MTV awards was a shocking event
With most of music industry’s top acts absent — from Beyonce to Bruno Mars — the MTV Video Music Awards lacked star power and felt flat, and some of the winners turned heads - for the wrong reasons.
Exhibit A: Camila Cabello beat out Drake, Mars, Cardi B, Ariana Grande and Post Malone for artist of the year.
“I can’t believe this is for me,” Cabello said Monday onstage. Neither can we. Cabello achieved the unthinkable later in the show when she took home the top prize — video of the year — for “Havana.” Cabello’s song was a No. 1 hit and of the video of the year nominees, “Havana” was the second-most viewed clip behind Drake’s “God’s Plan.” But that’s partly since “Havana” was released last year while the other videos came out this year.
It was the night’s most shocking moment, and MTV seemed to send a message: You’re punished for not showing up and rewarded for attending.
Grande won best pop and Post Malone took home song of the year. Drake, the most successful musician of the last year, didn’t win a single award. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar were restricted to technical honours like editing, art direction, cinematography and visual effects. And Gambino picked up best direction, choreography and video with a message for his heralded video “This Is America.”
The show hit another low when Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B and DJ Khaled won best collaboration for “Dinero” - a song that has peaked at No. 80 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart besting the record-setting hit “Meant to Be,” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, and Mars and Cardi B’s anthemic “Finesse” remix.
Then there was the Aretha Franklin tribute, a moment Madonna made, well, all about Madonna.
The pop icon rambled and rambled about the early struggles in her career, finally informing the crowd that she sang Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at an audition that became a breakthrough for her.
“None of this would have happened without our lady of soul,” she said. “She led me where I am today . ... I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us . ... Love live the queen.” It wasn’t clear if Madonna meant Franklin, or herself.
At least MTV did played a clip of Franklin, who died last week, singing “I Say A Little Prayer.”
The VMAs, at Radio City Music Hall in New York, also lacked oomph with its performances throughout the night: Grande was a bore during “God Is a Woman,” but added some excitement when she was joined by her mother, grandmother and cousin onstage at the end of the performance. Travis Scott, whose album is No. 1 for a second week, had strong energy while onstage, but the performance felt like it belonged more to singer James Blake, who is featured on Scott’s album and performed just as long as Scott during the segment.
Camila Cabello, left, accepts the award for video of the year as presenter Madonna looks on at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in New York.