VMA’s 2014: Who Should Win?

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Moonman

The 2014 VMA’s are airing tonight Sunday, August 24.  (The nominees can be found here.)  Predicting the winners is a crapshoot.  Here’s who should win:

Video of the Year: Sia – “Chandelier”

Best Male Video: Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Best Female Video: Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”

Artist to Watch: Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

Best Pop Video: Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”

Best Rock Video: The Black Keys – “Fever”

Best Hip-Hop Video: Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”

MTV Clubland Award: DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon – “Turn Down For What”

Best Collaboration: Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse”

Best Direction: OK Go – “The Writing’s on the Wall” (Directors: Damian Kulash, Aaron Duffy, and Bob Partington)

Best Choreography: Sia – “Chandelier” (Choreographer: Ryan Heffington)

Best Visual Effects: OK Go – “The Writing’s on the Wall” (Visual Effects: 1stAveMachine)

Best Art Direction: Arcade Fire – “Reflektor” (Art Director: Anastasia Masaro)

Best Editing: No opinion

Best Cinematography: Lana Del Rey – “West Coast” (Director of Photography: Evan Prosofsky)

Best Video with a Social Message: This category is very silly.

Best Lyric Video: I don’t watch lyric videos that often.

And check out this list I wrote for Starpulse of 10 classic music videos that did not win Video of the Year: http://www.starpulse.com/news/Jeffrey_Malone/2014/08/24/10_classic_music_videos_that_did_not_w

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Re-Selecting the VMA’s Videos of the Year

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The 2013 VMA’s are airing tomorrow night, Sunday, August 25, and instead of working on the fool’s errand of predicting the winners, I will be going through all of the past Video of the Year winners and determining if the appropriate choice was made or if the Moonman should have gone to another nominee.  There have been some deserving Video of the Year winners, but not every year.  But in general, there has been at least one good nominee.  Here we go:

1984: WINNER: The Cars – “You Might Think”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Michael Jackson – “Thriller” – Giant Ric Ocasek is plenty amusing, but it’s not the best music video of all time.

1985: WINNER: Don Henley – “The Boys of Summer”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Alice in Wonderland homages are a dime a dozen, but they don’t often come much more memorable than Tom Petty as the Mad Hatter.

1986: WINNER: Dire Straits – “Money for Nothing”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Money for Nothing” – Tough competition from “Take on Me” and “Addicted to Love,” but MTV was thankfully willing to reward MTV-targeted satire.

1987: WINNER: Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Sledgehammer” – Quite possibly my choice for best music video of all time, “Sledgehammer” is the apotheosis of visual wit and imagination.

1988: WINNER: INXS – “Need You Tonight/Mediate”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Need You Tonight/Mediate” – Michael Hutchence delivered sex appeal and a Bob Dylan homage that was even better than the original.

1989: WINNER: Neil Young – “This Note’s for You”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Fine Young Cannibals – “She Drives Me Crazy” – I love Neil Young, but “This Note’s for You” has not had the legacy of one of the great minimalist clips of all time.

1990: WINNER: Sinéad O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Emotionally, understatedly wrenching.  Totally manipulative, but in an absolutely lovely way.

1991: WINNER: R.E.M. – “Losing My Religion”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Deee-Lite – “Groove is in the Heart” – Tough call, here.  (“Wicked Game” was also a worthy contender.)  I feel like “Losing My Religion” is a better song than video, but perhaps I am a bit blinded by all the colors of Deee-Lite.

1992: WINNER: van Halen – “Right Now”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – “Right Now” is quite clever and sometimes just plain old silly, which is to say, it has a spot among great videos, but it’s no “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

1993: WINNER: Pearl Jam – “Jeremy”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Jeremy” – The music video may be the best visual art form for social commentary with an artsy sensibility.

1994: WINNER: Aerosmith – “Cryin'”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” – We enjoyed the Thelma & Louise-style adventures of Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone, but not as much as the 70’s cop show adventures of Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA.

1995: WINNER: TLC – “Waterfalls”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Weezer – “Buddy Holly” – “Waterfalls” had some cool FX, but no Fonzie.

1996: WINNER: The Smashing Pumpkns – “Tonight, Tonight”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – “Tha Crossroads” – A mostly unmemorable year.  At least “Tha Crossroads” had some directorial style.

1997: WINNER: Jamiroquai – “Virtual Insanity”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Virtual Insanity” – Neat camera tricks make for some weirdly cool dance moves.

1998: WINNER: Madonna – “Ray of Light”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Ray of Light” – A batch of good, but not great, nominees, with “Ray of Light” winning points for bringing visuals with an EDM sensibility to a mainstream video.

1999: WINNER: Lauryn Hill – “Doo Wop (That Thing)”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN:Korn – “Freak on a Leash” – There once was a time when the viewpoint of a bullet was “in,” and kind of deservedly so.

2000: WINNER: Eminem – “The Real Slim Shady”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN:D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” – Marshall Mather’s videos are often funny, but they don’t have closeups of a naked man’s ear.

2001: WINNER: Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and P!nk – “Lady Marmalade”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Fatboy Slim – “Weapon of Choice” – It may have been surprising 12 years ago, but it is no longer a shock that it is more fun to watch Christopher Walken’s dancing than those four ladies’.

2002: WINNER: Eminem – “Without Me”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: The White Stripes – “Fell in Love with a Girl” – The attention to detail in the craft of an all-LEGO video cannot be ignored.

2003: WINNER: Missy Elliott – “Work It”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Work It” – One of Missy’s wild yet technically impressive dance clips had to be awarded at some point.

2004: WINNER: OutKast – “Hey Ya!”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: “Hey Ya!” or Jay-Z – “99 Problems” – “Hey Ya” is more fun and accessible, but the expressionistic “99 Problems” really sticks with you.

2005: WINNER: Green Day – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell – “Drop It Like It’s Hot” or Kanye West – “Jesus Walks” – Tough call.  Snoop’s B&W clip might be the best minimalist video of all time, but “Jesus Walks” was the start of some incredible ambition.

2006: WINNER: Panic! at the Disco – “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Dani California” A fun homage to RHCP’s influences should have edged out P!atD’s colorful cast of characters.

2007: WINNER: Rihanna ft Jay-Z – “Umbrella”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.” – RiRi left us with quite a striking image, but Justice’s chameleonic T-shirts were the most original idea of the year.

2008: WINNER: Britney Spears – “Piece of Me”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: The Ting-Tings – “Shut Up and Let Me Go” – Awarding Britney for one of her lesser videos is the biggest VMA embarrassment in recent history.  But it was slim pickings among what was nominated.  The Ting-Tings stick out with their kaleidoscopic mix of colorful backgrounds and finger triangles.

2009: WINNER:Beyoncé – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Kanye West – “Love Lockdown” – Sorry, Kanye, but Beyoncé actually had one of the most overrated videos of the decade.  Your own video was much better.

2010: WINNER: Lady GaGa – “Bad Romance”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Lady GaGa ft. Beyoncé – “Telephone” – How can you not go with the more insane GaGa clip?

2011: WINNER: Katy Perry – “Firework”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers” – The fact that Tyler’s mini-horror movie was even nominated (and won for Best New Artist) is enough of an accomplishment.  Too bad the actual winner went to the boring “Firework” from the otherwise entertaining Katy Perry.

2012: WINNER: Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – “We Found Love”/SHOULD HAVE BEEN: Gotye ft. Kimbra – “Somebody That I Used to Know” – A solid video was guaranteed to win in one of the best groups of nominees in VMA history, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that Gotye was not THE winner.

2012 Video Music Awards Live Tweeting

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I will be live tweeting the Video Music Awards tomorrow, Thursday, September 6, at 8 eastern/7 central.  If you want to follow, go @jmunneymalone.

You know you love me.
xoxo,
Jmunney

2012 Video Music Awards Predictions (I Guess)

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The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards are this Thursday, September 6, 8 PM (7 Central).  Generally, I think I have a good sense of what will win at major entertainment awards shows, but last year, I correctly predicted 2 out of 14 VMA categories.  So, this year I’m not going to spend much time trying to figure out this notoriously hard to crack festivity.  Just a quick will win/should win for each category.

Video of the Year
Drake ft. Rihanna – “Take Care”
Gotye ft. Kimbra – “Somebody That I Used to Know”
M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”
Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – “We Found Love”
Will Win/Should Win: “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Best Male Video
Justin Bieber — “Boyfriend”
Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music”
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care”
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good”
Usher — “Climax”
Will Win: “Boyfriend”
Should Win: “Take Care”

Best Female Video
Beyoncé — “Love on Top”
Selena Gomez & the Scene — “Love You Like a Love Song”
Nicki Minaj — “Starships”
Katy Perry — “Part of Me”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris — “We Found Love”
Will Win: “Part of Me”
Should Win: “Love You Like a Love Song”

Best New Artist
fun. – ft. Janelle Monáe — “We Are Young”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good”
One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”
The Wanted — “Glad You Came”
Will Win: “Call Me Maybe” (or “What Makes You Beautiful”)
Should Win: “Call Me Maybe”

Best Pop Video
Justin Bieber — “Boyfriend”
fun. ft. Janelle Monáe — “We Are Young”
Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa — “Payphone”
One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris — “We Found Love”
Will Win: “Boyfriend”
Should Win: “We Found Love”

Best Rock Video
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Coldplay — “Paradise”
Imagine Dragons — “It’s Time”
Linkin Park — “Burn It Down”
Jack White — “Sixteen Saltines”
Will Win/Should Win: “Lonely Boy”

Best Hip-Hop Video
Childish Gambino — “Heartbeat”
Drake ft. Lil Wayne — “HYFR”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Paris”
Nicki Minaj ft. 2 Chainz — “Beez in the Trap”
Kanye West ft. Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Will Win: “Paris”
Should Win: “Paris” (I guess)

Best Electronic Dance Music Video
Avicii — “Levels”
Duck Sauce — “Big Bad Wolf”
Calvin Harris — “Feel So Close”
Skrillex — “First of the Year (Equinox)’
Martin Solveig — “The Night Out”
Will Win: “First of the Year (Equinox)”
Should Win: “Big Bad Wolf”

And now we come to the “professional” categories, in which there is even less of a point in attempting predictions, so I’ll just run through the should win’s for these categories.

Best Director
Coldplay ft. Rihanna — “Princess of China” (Director: Adria Petty and Alan Bibby)
Duck Sauce — “Big Bad Wolf” (Director: Keith Schofield)
Jay-Z and Kanye West ft. Otis Redding — “Otis” (Director: Spike Jonze)
M.I.A. — “Bad Girls” (Director: Romain Gavras)
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good” (Director: Nabil Elderkin)
Should Win: Keith Schofield, “Big Bad Wolf”

Best Choreography
Avicii — “Levels” (Choreographers: Richy Greenfield and Petro Papahadjopoulos)
Beyoncé — “Countdown” (Choreographers: Danielle Polanco, Frank Gatson Jr., Beyoncé and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker)
Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music” (Choreographer: Anwar “Flii” Burton)
Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull — “Dance Again” (Choreographer: JR Taylor)
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been” (Choreographer: Hi-Hat)
Should Win: “Levels”

Best Visual Effects
David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj — “Turn Me On” (Visual Effects: Alex Frisch, Joe Harkins, Scott Metzger and Vico Sharabani)
Linkin Park — “Burn It Down” (Visual Effects: Ghost Town Media)
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake” (Visual Effects: Ingenuity Engine)
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been” (Visual Effects: BAKED FX)
Skrillex — “First of the Year (Equinox)” (Visual Effects: Deka Brothers and Tony “Truand” Datis)
Should Win: “Turn Me On”

Best Art Direction
Lana Del Rey — “Born to Die” (Art Directors: Anna Brun and Audrey Malecot)
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care” (Art Director: Charles Infante)
Of Monsters and Men — “Little Talks” (Art Director: Mihai Wilson)
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake” (Art Director: Benji Bamps)
Regina Spektor — “All the Rowboats” (Art Director: Anthony Henderson)
Should Win: “Born to Die”

Best Editing
A$AP Rocky — “Goldie” (Editor: Samantha Lecca)
Beyoncé — “Countdown” (Editors: Alexander Hammer and Jeremiah Shuff)
Gotye ft. Kimbra — “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Editor: Natasha Pincus)
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Niggas in Paris” (Editors: Alexander Hammer, Peter Johnson and Derek Lee)
Kanye West ft Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz — “Mercy” (Editor: Eric Greenburg)
Should Win: “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Best Cinematography
Adele — “Someone Like You” (Director of Photography: David Johnson)
Coldplay ft. Rihanna — “Princess of China” (Director of Photography: Stéphane Vallée)
Lana Del Rey — “Born to Die” (Director of Photography: André Chemetoff)
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care” (Director of Photography: Kasper Tuxen)
M.I.A. — “Bad Girls” (Director of Photography: André Chemetoff)
Should Win: “Bad Girls”

Best Video with a Message
Kelly Clarkson — “Dark Side”
Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder — “The Fighter”
K’naan ft. Nelly Furtado — “Is Anybody Out There?”
Lil Wayne — “How to Love”
Demi Lovato — “Skyscraper”
Rise Against — “Ballad of Hollis Brown”
Will Win: “Skyscraper”
Should Win: “Ballad of Hollis Brown”

Best Latino Artist
Juanes
Jennifer Lopez
Pitbull
Romeo Santos
Wisin & Yandel
Will Win: ???
Should Win: ???

2012 VMAs Nominees – Quick Reactions

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Video of the Year
Drake ft. Rihanna – “Take Care”
Gotye ft. Kimbra – “Somebody That I Used to Know”
M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”
Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – “We Found Love”

This is the best overall set of Video of the Year nominees I can remember in my lifetime.  I would be happy with any of these videos winning, but Gotye definitely deserves it the most.  Lately, there’s been one oddball Video of the Year nominee each year, and eight months ago, I would have thought that oddball nominee would have been “Somebody That I Used to Know,” but then that inexplicably became a hit, so M.I.A. was slotted in as the alternative choice.  I hadn’t heard or seen “Bad Girls” until I saw these nominations, and now I’ve been listening to it every day.  But still, “Somebody That I Used to Know” deserves it by a mile – it was #3 in my list for best music videos of 2011 (#1 – Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” – was up last year and #2 – Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” – was perhaps a bit much for Video of the Year, but did manage a spot in the Electronic category).

Best Male Video
Justin Bieber — “Boyfriend”
Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music”
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care”
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good”
Usher — “Climax”

Umm … where is Gotye?  Drake – by far – is the only one here with a signficantly memorable video.

Best Female Video
Beyoncé — “Love on Top”
Selena Gomez & the Scene — “Love You Like a Love Song”
Nicki Minaj — “Starships”
Katy Perry — “Part of Me”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris — “We Found Love”

Oh, VMA inconsistency! If “Wide Awake” is up for Video of the Year, then why is “Part of Me” the Katy Perry selection for Female Video?  This is a tough call between Rihanna and Selena – RiRi had the more indelible images, but I think I prefer Selena with the more interesting idea.

Best New Artist
fun. – ft. Janelle Monáe — “We Are Young”
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Call Me Maybe”
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good”
One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”
The Wanted — “Glad You Came”

Gotye is the only new artist up for Video of the Year, but he’s not up for Best New Artist… Frank Ocean may have had the best music of the newbies, but his video for “Swim Good” doesn’t do much for me.  I think I’ll actually give the edge to Carly Rae over fun. on this one.

Best Pop Video
Justin Bieber — “Boyfriend”
fun. ft. Janelle Monáe — “We Are Young”
Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa — “Payphone”
One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris — “We Found Love”

“We Found Love” seems a little out of place in the pop category, but it is certainly the best of this bunch.

Best Rock Video
The Black Keys — “Lonely Boy”
Coldplay — “Paradise”
Imagine Dragons — “It’s Time”
Linkin Park — “Burn It Down”
Jack White — “Sixteen Saltines”

You can always count on Best Rock Video to not be completely screwed up.  Please, please, let’s recognize the Black Keys, who have had on average the best videos of any band the past two years.

Best Hip-Hop Video
Childish Gambino — “Heartbeat”
Drake ft. Lil Wayne — “HYFR”
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Paris”
Nicki Minaj ft. 2 Chainz — “Beez in the Trap”
Kanye West ft. Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz — “Mercy”

I would really love to see Childish Gambino win something, because it could in a way be considered a win for Community.  “Heartbeat” is a great song, though its video isn’t all that special, but nor are any of the other nominees, so … go, Donald Glover!

Best Electronic Dance Music Video
Avicii — “Levels”
Duck Sauce — “Big Bad Wolf”
Calvin Harris — “Feel So Close”
Skrillex — “First of the Year (Equinox)’
Martin Solveig — “The Night Out”

Good call by the VMAs to restrict the Dance category to Electronic Dance this year, as it resulted in a group of nominees that is overall even better than the Video of the Year nominees.  I would love to see all of these videos win something, but “Big Bad Wolf” is the most impressive, in a lot of ways.

Best Director
Coldplay ft. Rihanna — “Princess of China” (Director: Adria Petty and Alan Bibby)
Duck Sauce — “Big Bad Wolf” (Director: Keith Schofield)
Jay-Z and Kanye West ft. Otis Redding — “Otis” (Director: Spike Jonze)
M.I.A. — “Bad Girls” (Director: Romain Gavras)
Frank Ocean — “Swim Good” (Director: Nabil Elderkin)

It’s usually a good call to award Spike Jonze, but “Otis” is nowhere near the level of “Sabotage,” “Buddy Holly,” or “Weapon of Choice.”  Romain Gavras has now directed a couple of great videos for M.I.A., and that collaboration deserves recognition, but I have to give it to Keith Schofield, who deserves plenty of credit for doing whatever he did to make “Big Bad Wolf” happen.

Best Choreography
Avicii — “Levels” (Choreographers: Richy Greenfield and Petro Papahadjopoulos)
Beyoncé — “Countdown” (Choreographers: Danielle Polanco, Frank Gatson Jr., Beyoncé and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker)
Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music” (Choreographer: Anwar “Flii” Burton)
Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull — “Dance Again” (Choreographer: JR Taylor)
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been” (Choreographer: Hi-Hat)

In a traditional sense of understanding dance, the choreography of “Where Have You Been” was the most impressive, but when one considers that something like “Praise You” is considered one of the best dance videos of all time, “Levels” must then surely be recognized for being so wackadoodly memorable.

Best Visual Effects
David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj — “Turn Me On” (Visual Effects: Alex Frisch, Joe Harkins, Scott Metzger and Vico Sharabani)
Linkin Park — “Burn It Down” (Visual Effects: Ghost Town Media)
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake” (Visual Effects: Ingenuity Engine)
Rihanna — “Where Have You Been” (Visual Effects: BAKED FX)
Skrillex — “First of the Year (Equinox)” (Visual Effects: Deka Brothers and Tony “Truand” Datis)

“Wide Awake” and “First of the Year” had cool-looking effects, but those of “Turn Me On” were more all-encompassing.

Best Art Direction
Lana Del Rey — “Born to Die” (Art Directors: Anna Brun and Audrey Malecot)
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care” (Art Director: Charles Infante)
Of Monsters and Men — “Little Talks” (Art Director: Mihai Wilson)
Katy Perry — “Wide Awake” (Art Director: Benji Bamps)
Regina Spektor — “All the Rowboats” (Art Director: Anthony Henderson)

Lana Del Rey may get a lot of guff for being overhyped by bloggers and for her super strange live performances, but she has made some excellent, often beautiful music videos, and “Born to Die” was the most beautiful video of the year.

Best Editing
A$AP Rocky — “Goldie” (Editor: Samantha Lecca)
Beyoncé — “Countdown” (Editors: Alexander Hammer and Jeremiah Shuff)
Gotye ft. Kimbra — “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Editor: Natasha Pincus)
Jay-Z and Kanye West — “Niggas in Paris” (Editors: Alexander Hammer, Peter Johnson and Derek Lee)
Kanye West ft Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz — “Mercy” (Editor: Eric Greenburg)

Why is this the only other category that “Somebody That I Used to Know” is up for?  Anyway, it should definitely win here – the editing played a big part in making it as good as it was.

Best Cinematography
Adele — “Someone Like You” (Director of Photography: David Johnson)
Coldplay ft. Rihanna — “Princess of China” (Director of Photography: Stéphane Vallée)
Lana Del Rey — “Born to Die” (Director of Photography: André Chemetoff)
Drake ft. Rihanna — “Take Care” (Director of Photography: Kasper Tuxen)
M.I.A. — “Bad Girls” (Director of Photography: André Chemetoff)

Following Adele with the camera was a neat trick, but the panoramic shots of riding through the desert in “Bad Girls” trump it.

Best Video with a Message
Kelly Clarkson — “Dark Side”
Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder — “The Fighter”
K’naan ft. Nelly Furtado — “Is Anybody Out There?”
Lil Wayne — “How to Love”
Demi Lovato — “Skyscraper”
Rise Against — “Ballad of Hollis Brown”

Why not nominate “Bad Girls” here?  That video’s all about supporting the right to drive for Saudi women.  Anyway, none of these nominees are doing much for me, except maybe Rise Against, who managed a decent Bob Dylan cover.

Best Latino Artist
Juanes
Jennifer Lopez
Pitbull
Romeo Santos
Wisin & Yandel

I’m not sure what the point of this category is.

2011 Video Music Awards Predictions Recap

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It turns out that predicting the winners of the VMA’s is even more of a fool’s errand than it is for most awards shows, which I have realized after correctly predicting a grand total of 2 (out of 14) categories (Foo Fighters for Rock Video, GaGa for Video with a Message).  Here a few things I learned about the VMA’s this year:

MTV does not care about consistency.
The distribution of the awards reminded me of an episode of Da Ali G Show.  Brüno was interviewing some guy at a fashion show.  He asked him why the show was humorless, and then he asked him how it had maintained a sense of humor; he asked him why the show was about the individual, and then he asked him why it was about other people; he asked him how he had made the show so heavy, and then he asked him how he had made it so light.  Ultimately he asked this guy if he cared about inconsistency, which of course, he didn’t.  Clearly, MTV feels the same way.  “Firework” won Video of the Year, even though it did not also win Best Female Video, and it wasn’t even nominated in Best Pop Video.  (Another Katy Perry video – “Last Friday Night” – was nominated in the Pop category.  There seemed to have been a desire to recognize all of Katy’s videos from the past year, which is fine, but she could have had multiple nominations in the same category if the nominators wanted her to.)  This isn’t anything new.  Panic! at the Disco won Video of the Year – and nothing else – in 2006, while Beyoncé won Video of the Year in 2009 but, quite famously, did not also win Female Video.
This was Adele’s year, but it was also Katy Perry’s, and GaGa (and Britney) need to be recognized, too.
“Rolling in the Deep” is the biggest hit of the year, and it won more moonmen than any other video this year, but those wins all came in the “professional categories” (Art Direction, Editing, Cinematography).  Meanwhile, Katy Perry has had a year comparable to – perhaps better than – Adele’s, having just had her fifth number one single off the same album (an accomplishment previously achieved only by Michael Jackson).  Her videos also had three wins (two for “E.T.,” one for “Firework”).  Meanwhile, Lady GaGa was somehow able to top them both in Female Video, and Britney was able to top them as well in Pop Video.
Justin Bieber wins everything he is nominated for.
Unless it’s the Grammys.  And nobody understands the Grammys.

2011 Video Music Awards Preview

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The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards are taking off tonight, and believe it or not, this is an awards show that has more legitimacy than most.  Unfortunately, this legitmacy has been on the downturn in the past decade.  It is not that bad music videos are being awarded, it is that the safer picks –  like “Umbrella” and “Bad Romance” –  are chosen, while the truly best and most daring – like Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” or Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” or The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” – are merely given perfunctory nominations or relegated to less prestigious (but more interesting) categories like Breakthrough Video (which is not being awarded this year).  This is mainly due to MTV’s pop bias, which the network got away with in the early days of the VMA’s, as the best music videos back then could be found among the popular ones.  But in the modern music world, there are tons of indie artists making music videos along with the popular artists, and every video can easily be propagated through YouTube.  Thus, the best videos often have to be actively sought after, which means MTV is now mostly recognizing the best of only a subset of the music video world.  And in that limited capacity, a pretty good job is done.  Anyway, here is a category-by-category breakdown.

Video of the Year
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”
Will Win: Katy Perry is the most nominated artist (with 4 different videos being recognized), but “Rolling in the Deep” is by far the biggest hit of the year and pretty close to a sure thing.
Should Win: Stark black-and-white photography and memorable images (cockroach, vomit, hanging) make for a winning combination when it comes to music videos, as “Yonkers” provides evidence of.

Best Male Video
Justin Bieber – “U Smile”
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Love the Way You Lie”
Cee-Lo Green – “Fuck You!”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi – “All of the Lights”
Will Win: Unless the VMA’s are determined entirely by fan voting (and I’m pretty sure they’re not; if they were, this category would go to Bieber), this is a toss-up between Eminem and Cee-Lo.  I give the edge to “Fuck You!” for being more recent and more upbeat.
Shoudl Win: Looking for striking visual imagery?  Look no further than “All of the Lights.”

Best Female Video
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Beyoncé – “Run the World (Girls)”
Lady GaGa – “Born This Way”
Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep.” Biggest hit of the year, don’t you know?
Should Win: “Rolling in the Deep.”  The vibrating glasses of water are what really sell it.

Best New Artist
Big Sean ft. Chris Bown – “My Last”
Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Kreayshawn – “Gucci Gucci”
Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”
Wiz Khalifa – “Black and Yellow”
Will Win: The fact that Tyler is up for Video of the Year doesn’t really mean much for his chances here.  “Black and Yellow” was the biggest hit out of this bunch.  But don’t count Tyler out, as Avenged Sevenfold beat Chris Brown and Rihanna in 2006 and Tokio Hotel beat Katy Perry and Taylor Swift in 2008.
Should Win: You gotta want someone who is going to have a long career of making great videos winning here. I think “Yonkers” proves that will be the case with Tyler, the Creator.

Best Pop Video
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
Katy Perry – “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer – “Give Me Everything”
Britney Spears – “Till the World Ends”
Will Win: This award has lately been closely in line with Video of the Year, which bodes well for “Rolling in the Deep.”
Should Win: Celebrity cameos that are witty and actually have a purpose?  Thank you, “Last Friday Night.”

Best Rock Video
The Black Keys – “Howlin’ for You”
Cage the Elephant – “Shake Me Down”
Foo Fighters – “Walk”
Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”
Will Win: This award doesn’t always go to the biggest hit (as lately there isn’t always a big hit among the nominees).  The four relatively new artists may cancel each other out, leading the way for the oft-nominated but never victorious Foo Fighters to win for “Walk.”
Should Win: The fake-trailer (especially the grindhouse variety) conceit has become a bit overdone, but when it’s done well, it’s done well, as in “Howlin’ for You.”

Best Hip-Hop Video
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes – “Look at Me Now”
Lupe Fiasco – “The Show Goes On”
Lil Wayne ft. Cory Gunz – “6 Foot 7 Foot”
Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”
Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi – “All of the Lights”
Will Win: The VMA’s love a good comeback story, which is good news for “6 Foot 7 Foot” from Lil Wayne, who is in the midst of his post-prison career resurgence.
Should Win: There’s a Hype Williams clip (“All of the Lights”) nominated?  Give it to him.  He makes classic hip-hop spots in his sleep.

Best Collaboration
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes – “Look at Me Now”
Nicki Minaj ft. Drake – “Moment 4 Life”
Katy Perry ft. Kanye West – “E.T.”
Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Nayer, and Afrojack – “Give Me Everything”
Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi – “All of the Lights”
Will Win: It may be too hard to resist the big number of credited artists and Pitbull’s rising star power in “Give Me Everything.”
Should Win: “All of the Lights.”  Kanye is the current king of collaborations and RiRi is the queen of hooks.

Best Direction
30 Seconds to Mars – “Hurricane” (Dir. Bartholomew Cubbins)
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (Dir. Sam Brown)
Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise” (Dir. Adam Yauch)
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Love the Way You Lie” (Dir. Joseph Kahn)
Katy Perry ft. Kanye West – “E.T.” (Dir. Floria Sigismondi)
Will Win: Best Direction can match up with Video of the Year, and there aren’t really any other strong contenders this year.  So congratulations, Sam Brown.
Should Win: The general mark of good music video direction is striking imagery, which is what Floria Sigismondi gave us in “E.T.”

Best Choreography
Beyoncé – “Run the World (Girls)” (Choreographer: Frank Gatson)
Lady Gaga – “Judas” (Chroeographer: Laurieann Gibson)
LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock – “Party Rock Anthem” (Choreographer: Hokuto Konishi)
Bruno Mars – “The Lazy Song” (Choreographers: Bruno Mars and Poreotics)
Britney Spears – “Till the World Ends” (Choreographer: Brian Friedman)
Will Win: It is the “Party Rock Anthem” of the summer, and it has got people shufflin’.
Should Win: The moves aren’t overly impressive in “Party Rock Anthem,” but they are plenty fun.

Best Special Effects
Chromeo – “Don’t Turn the Lights On” (Special Effects: The Mill)
Linkin Park — “Waiting for the End” (Special Effects: Ghost Town Media)
Manchester Orchestra — “Simple Math” (Special Effects: DANIELS)
Katy Perry ft. Kanye West — “E.T.” (Special Effects: Jeff Dotson for Dot & Effects)
Kanye West ft. Dwele — “Power” (Special Effects: Nice Shoes and ArtJail)
Will Win: The VMA’s like some hook to their special effects, but not something too unusual, which bodes well for “Waiting for the End.”
Should Win: Those bulging eyes in “Don’t Turn the Lights On” truly were “special.”

Best Art Direction
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (Art Director: Nathan Parker)
Death Cab for Cutie – “You Are a Tourist” (Art Directors: Nick Gould, Tim Nackashi and Anthony Maitz)
Lady Gaga – “Judas” (Art Director: Amy Danger)
Katy Perry ft. Kanye West – “E.T.” (Art Director: Jason Fijal)
Kanye West ft. Dwele – “Power” (Art Director: Babak Radboy)
Will Win: “Power” was all about art direction.  Hopefully MTV gets that.
Should Win: “Power.”

Best Editing
30 Seconds to Mars – “Hurricane” (Editors: Jared Leto, Frank Snider, Michael Bryson, Stefanie Visser and Daniel Carberry)
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (Editor: Art Jones at Work)
Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math” (Editor: DANIELS)
Katy Perry ft Kanye West – “E.T.” (Editor: Jarrett Fijal)
Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi – “All of the Lights” (Editor: Hadaya Turner)
Will Win: Unless “Rolling in the Deep” wins everything, voters will probably recognize the painstaking work of splicing “All of the Lights” together.
Should Win: It might be dangerous viewing for epileptics, but “All of the Lights” is well-done dangerous viewing for epileptics.

Best Cinematography
30 Seconds to Mars – “Hurricane” (Directors of Photography: Benoît Debie, Jared Leto, Rob Witt and Daniel Carberry)
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (Director of Photography: Tom Townend)
Beyoncé – “Run the World (Girls)” (Director of Photography: Jeffrey Kimball)
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Love the Way You Lie” (Director of Photography: Christopher Probst)
Katy Perry – “Teenage Dream” (Director of Photography: Paul Laufer)
Will Win: With Megan Fox, Dominic Monaghan, and a burning house, “Love the Way You Lie” may have had the most front-and-center elements that caught the camera’s eye.
Should Win: “Teenage Dream” is the sexiest and most lovingly shot video of the past year.

Best Video with a Message
Eminem ft. Rihanna – “Love the Way You Lie”
Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Pink – “Fuckin’ Perfect”
Rise Against – “Make It Stop (September’s Children)”
Taylor Swift – “Mean”
Will Win: “Born This Way”: GaGa is the performer with a message du jour these days.
Should Win: With “Make It Stop,” Rise Against showed us that the one thing the anti-gay bullying campgain had yet to do was rock out.

Best Latino Artist of 2011
Don Omar and Lucenzo – “Danza Kuduro”
Enrique Iglesias ft. Ludacris and DJ Frank E – “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)”
Maná – “Lluvia al Corazón”
Prince Royce – “Corazón Sin Cara”
Wisin & Yandel – “Zun Zun Rompiendo Caderas”
Will Win: Don Omar may not be as big a name as Enrique stateside, but with over 200 million hits, “Danza Kuduro” is the 14th most viewed video of all time on YouTube.
Should Win: I’ve appreciated Don Omar whenever he makes an appearance on a Fast and Furious soundtrack, and “Danza Kuduro” showed up in Fast Five.