In 2018, one metric the internet is using to measure an awards show’s success is the use of political digs in lieu of commentary on sartorial exploits. Post Trump’s presidential inauguration and post Weinstein, we saw celebrities using their platforms – and their acceptance speech timeslots – to advocate awareness of issues on the social agenda. It was interesting then, at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards that any social or political slur was largely a relegated afterthought. Even those who received awards were more of the commercial fare (read: Camila Cabello’s win for Havana over Childish Gambino’s politically charged This Is America). And while there were no flashpoints like Kanye West stealing Taylor Swift’s moonman or Miley Cyrus twerking in flesh underwear, there were some notable things going on which we were privy to from our vantage point on the third mezzanine inside Radio City Music Hall. Take a peek.
Like the rest of the world, Alex Rodriguez also watches JLo perform through an iPhone:
Find somebody who looks at you like A-Rod looks at JLo on screen. The 42-year-old retired Yankee filmed his girlfriend from the front row while she was on stage performing her medley of hits to a raucous crowd. From Lopez being steered out on stage on a train from The Bronx to Ja Rule making a surprise appearance to perform I’m Real and Love Don’t Cost A Thing, Rodriguez captured it all, and also our hearts. Just a man, having a ball and knowing how god damn lucky he is.
Madonna honoured Aretha Franklin with a lengthy story about herself:
Madonna is Madonna, let’s not argue with that. But Aretha Franklin was Aretha Franklin, and when one icon passes away and another icon is tasked with giving a makeshift tribute to the other, be certain it will come across as poor taste if all you do is talk about yourself. Madonna did just that. She spoke at length about how she sang one of Franklin’s songs early on in her career – “This was before I was Madonna” – and while she said some doubted her, the singer made it clear she did very well for herself. It was self-indulgent at best.
Nicki Minaj and Post Malone’s performances were pre-filmed:
It was… disappointing. I came to America to see Post Malone’s Rockstar! he did though perform live with Aerosmith to close the show!
Jennifer Lopez quite literally shut down the VMAs and then Ariana Grande had to follow:
Any words I type here cannot fully communicate how incredible Lopez’s performance was. The energy she was able to parlay onto the audience was palpable. Twenty years ago, she released her first single If You Had My Love, a springboard to a stellar career as a performer, an actress, a brand and a Vegas residency. It’s interesting to note as well, at 49-years-old, Lopez only hit the big time at nearly 30 years of age. In her case anyway, life really did begin at 30. And two decades on, she made 25-year-old Ariana Grande – who followed her medley – look, well, sombre.
There were collective gasps when Camilla Cabello won two major awards:
When you’re up against the likes of Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, it did come as a surprise Camilla Cabello won both Best Artist and Video Of The Year for her mega-track Havana. In my humble opinion, if she were to win over any of these icons, it would be with her track Never Be The Same. Still, that’s a push. And the crowd inside Radio City Music Hall knew.
I had a near-miss with Kylie Jenner:
She literally bumped into me while being ushered through security. As my phone was with security, I couldn’t take a picture. Subsequently, this point is now redundant. (Side note: Jenner was incredibly demure in both her look and her demeanour. She knew it was her boyfriend Travis Scott’s night and was happy to sit on the tabloid sidelines.)
A lot of big stars were missing:
Many of the industry’s biggest stars weren’t in attendance: Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Childish Gambino, Drake, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé and Jay-Z (who had eight nominations for their video Apes**t).
Mini burgers were served:
It comes as such a surprise to me that in the land where every food group arrives super-sized with added plastic cheese, the VMAs catering was quite literally the smallest bite-sized pieces I’ve ever seen. Well, actually, the cheese toasties at Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Launch in Brooklyn in September 2017, were actually one-eighth the size of my hand. Why?