With the MTV European Music Awards having packed up and left Belfast, Cormac Duffy looks back on the annual feast of cringe and confusion
The most absurd, and hence my favourite, music anecdote of the year so far was Justin Vernon of Bon Iver’s anti-VMAs diatribe. Seemingly dewy-eyed with nostalgia for a time when MTV wasn’t an advert for fake tan and teenage pregnancy, he lambasted the annual headline-generator for failing to live up to its potential as an authentic event. That’s all well and good, but I’m surprised that he, or anyone, actually cared. I never thought that anything MTV produced these days held any worth. Let’s face it, the company has reached the point where they had to launch MTV Music earlier this year to seem relevant. That’s right folks, Music Television Music, one of the worst recorded cases of RAS Syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome).
To see what all the fuss was about, I decided to sit down and watch the MTV European Music Awards this week, and let me tell you, it was certainly an experience. Honestly, it meant little to me, and confused me to no end.
The bobble-headed hostess, Selena Gomez, is apparently some sort of children’s TV star whose boyfriend may or may not have impregnated a fan during a half-minute backstage tryst. Riveting stuff. Most of her ‘humorous sketches’ were just plain odd. One involved her in conversation with her strange ghetto alter ego, which would have been offensive had it made any sense. Another about her accidentally smashing Chris Martin’s guitar backstage was funny, but only in the sense that I hate Chris Martin, and like imagining things he cares about breaking.
Introducing yet another tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, Jessie J thought it fitting to say that she would have never ended up in the music business were it not for Amy. That is most likely the biggest insult you’ll hear that isn’t in an epitaph for a deposed dictator. She continued by linking the late soul diva to several war crimes, Lulu and the cancellation of Firefly.
But as always, the performances were the clear low point. Between the four of them, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still don’t wear enough clothes for one man their age. Their performance was an interlude of mindless, moustachioed masculinity that only left me pondering what a lyric like “Tugboat Sheila is into memorabilia” could mean in any existing system of semantics.
Yet for all this, plus all the shocking Irish jokes (“Something something ginger, something something craic”, cue laugh track), the centrepiece had to be the omnipresent Lady Gaga, a continuous bane in my existence.
While it would be solipsistic to assume I’m the only one with the sentiment, I do feel very alone in my incredulity when I see how seriously she’s taken. It’s kind of like I’m the kid in The Emperor’s New Clothes, except instead of being nude, the emperor is wearing a satellite-sombrero hybrid mask, a Ferrero Rocher wrapper dress, and singing terrible Europop on top of a model of the moon. I mean sure, all the greats have had ridiculous stage shows at some point, but Ms. Germanotta professes to not using drugs. What’s her excuse then?