MTV awards was a shock­ing event

The Western Star - - ARTS & ENTERTAINM­ENT - BY MESFIN FEKADU

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.

AP PHOTO

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.

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