Plus: Madonna honors Aretha Franklin
For an awards ceremony that has taken steps in recent years to defuse gender – to retire the best male and best female categories, rebranding his signature Astronaut-inspired Trophy as Moon Person – the MTV 2018 The Video Music Awards were effectively split into a male and a female section, with a number of male artists setting the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled.
The 35th repeat of the show that returned The Radio City Music Hall was opened for the twelfth time, without a bang, but something more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a rain-soaked idea of "In My Blood". Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of National TV exposure when he followed with "Beautiful," his second performance in the evening after a fight during the pre-show not long before. With the help of Ryan Tedder, Logic wanted to gain another moment of testimony with a performance on US immigration policy. And then panic! At the disco made a stylish and energetic performance that floated in the air. The appearances were solid, sure, but sometimes they did not feel more vital to the show than the moderator's prayers and banter or some of the evening's early acceptance talks.
You may also notice that all these performers have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to come to a performance by a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of several Push Artist of the Year nominees who were given short windows ̵
This is not a shadow for Mendes – When you think of classical VMA moments and performances, you probably do not think about young pop rock artists demonstrating their instrumental abilities. They recall the spectacle that delivered Minaj with her phalynx of dancers and monarchically inspired clothing from New York's Oculus transportation hub. Minaj's buddy and frequent associate Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set that recreated a completely female version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that made the VMA stage in "God Is a Woman" a living music video. Published Sweetener LP
And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would receive the Video Vanguard Award this year, many on the Internet seemed more concerned with mistreating Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicable rumors about the honor she felt obliged to do ] shoot the chatter on Twitter . As the first Latinx winner of the Vanguard Award – and in a year in which MTV introduced the Best Latin category – Lopez's latest award is not insignificant. And in her first VMA performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a cross-career medley that served the choreography and impressive live vocals you probably did not have.
The only part of Lopez's crowning moment that felt like it was the person who introduced her and gave her the award: Shawn Mendes, her connection to her as an artist … well, what exactly is? It was not the only strange pairing of the evening: producers who were held in homage to Aretha Franklin by taking Madonna out and monologizing what Franklin meant to her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul beyond their common Detroit roots – in a typically shabby manner, Madonna recounted a story of how Aretha Franklin gave her an impression in a foreplay that set her career in motion. But the look was not great considering that Madonna's award-winning story occasionally provided egocentric tributes to black legends, and that most of her homage to Franklin was spent celebrating her own stubbornness during her early days as a starving artist. 19659003] It was not hard to figure out what Madonna's primary purpose was: receiving the Video of the Annual Prize, which went to Camila Cabello for "Havana." The singer was hardly the pioneer in the category they saw going against Childish Gambino's much-hyped clip "This Is America" and the private Louvre party that was Carter's "Apeshit" – competitors who were also absent.
But as surprising as it may have been, winning as a big endorsement for Cabello is in line with the show's diminishing focus on current music videos. That's a constant MTV complaint, of course, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: Last year, the show won the Artist of the Year award, and the year's title followed this year – two starred categories, their nominees are not tied to specific videos. And the taunting and hyped price of the night was not a video of the year either – it was the best new artist to come up with Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, which, given their unstoppable year, was not a big shock to them, went to Cardi.
When Cabello won the evening's great honor (her second prize of the night), the show had returned to a male only third appearance with mixed results. Travis Scott's tech-savvy -mindroworld -Medley never really got a foothold, while a sponsored Lauv performance that starred during a commercial break after the Madonna Cabello segment was touchingly anti-Islamic. (A Madonna soliloquy is a daunting task for anyone, not to mention an aspiring artist who fills a brand partnership.) There was not a glimpse on the finishing straight, including Aerosmith – who, despite all the head-scraping news, was on her performance probably inspired and made a vivacious, grand finale when she teamed up with Post Malone to set "Toys in the Attic" to music. Yet, when it comes to this year's strangely separate running of the show, it is clear that – to paraphrase the song Grande – the women were the deities.