I'm pretty hip to what the kids are into nowadays, so obviously I was totally aware there is now such a thing as the YouTube Music Awards. Well, I was once I read the newspaper this morning. After I scanned the obituaries, filled in the Jumble, and took my supplements.
Anyway, the first YouTube Music Awards took place Sunday night as a 90-minute webcast. It was held in New York City, and creative director Spike Jonze’s stated goal was to create “live music videos” on stage with artists like Arcade Fire and Lady Gaga. Seems pretty cool, right? Kind of a middle finger to the other overly scripted, big-production awards shows, something that taps into the anything-goes nature of today's online entertainment?
As it turns out, the earnest attempt for the YouTube Awards to become as viral a hit as the website's top videos didn't exactly pan out. The idea definitely has potential, but last night's show sounds like it was a giant mess.
The webcast was hosted by actor Jason Schwartzman and comedian Reggie Watts, who awkwardly dealt with dead air, technical difficulties, and the fact that they were working without a script. At one point, they each apparently grabbed a diaper-wearing baby and had to interview winners Macklemore and Ryan Lewis while the babies cried. What???
It sounds like some of the performances themselves were decent, particularly the live performance of Arcade Fire's "Afterlife," which featured actress Gina Gerwig. Lady Gaga also sang her new song "Dope," sitting alone at a piano and crying during the ballad. Check out this video of her performance:
Wow. Like all Gaga songs, I don't necessarily love her singing, but I'm impressed as hell by what she puts into her music.
As for the awards themselves, Eminem was named artist of the year, K-pop group Girls' Generation (who?) (waves cane feebly) won for video of the year, Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" won YouTube phenomenon (but not the goat version?), and Macklemore and Lewis won YouTube breakthrough.
All in all, it sounds like an event that has potential, but someone behind the helm needs to realize that all the things the ESTABLISHMENT uses -- you know, producers, rehearsals, scripts, scheduled breaks -- actually go a long way toward making a watchable show. Spontaneity and chaos aren't necessarily bad things, but a little structure likely would have improved the broadcast considerably.
On the other hand, as The New York Times put it,
This was a show of essentially no consequence, but also one that effectively privileged the values of a post-consequence creative ecosystem: a theoretically equal playing field, risk-taking, resilience in the face of failure, evanescence.
LOL, "post-consequence creative ecosystem." My translation of that is it doesn't really matter if this first attempt was a huge success or not. Google has over $340 billion to experiment with, after all, and they'll likely fine-tune it for viewer engagement next year.
Did you watch the YouTube Music Awards? What did you think?
Image via YouTube