The MTV Video Music Awards rarely goes middle of the road: It's either a zeitgeist-fueled barrage of "oh wow" moments, or a tedious parade of silver spacemen. Which will it be this year?
Last year’ ceremony was the show’s highest rated in nearly eight years, thanks to viewer-enticing nominees and performances by likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and, of course, Lady Gaga’s infamous "meat dress" and eight Moonman trophies, providing just the right amount of did-you-see-that? Day-after discussion.
PopcornBiz breaks this year’s VMA game plan down beforehand so you can adjust your expectations accordingly.
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The Host: For the first time since 2007, the VMAs are skipping over a formal host this year after two relatively edgy and amusing stints by Russell Brand (it’s where he met future bride Katy Perry) and last year’s turn by Chelsea Handler that was as snooze-inducing as her talk show’s somnambulant timeslot.
The Venue: For the second year in a row, L.A.'s Nokia Theater provides the locale – a promising sign for out-there antics (paging Kayne), even though the energy’s always a little edgier when the VMAs hit NYC.
The Performers: There's an exceptionally explosive mix of A-list artists that can be counted on to bring showmanship (Beyonce, Adele, Bruno Mars, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Pitbull, and Young the Giant) and, if we’re lucky, a little scandal (Gaga – who’s opening the show - and Chris Brown).
The Big Moments: It seems like it wouldn’t be the VMAs without one of the show’s nigh-annual tributes to (yeee-awn) Britney Spears, and this year’s no different, but along with that lightweight exercise expect things to get heavy when the legendary Tony Bennett plays homage to the late Amy Winehouse – who never appeared at the VMAs, by the way – with “Body and Soul,” the duet the two recorded that turned out the be the soul singer’s last trip to the studio.
The Presenters: Given that there’s no host to quip the night fantastic, the lineup is worrisome for those of us hoping for some genuinely snarky, non-TelePrompTered banter and left-field curveballs (Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen may deliver, but we’re especially counting on “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” JB Smoove and hip hop collective Odd Future; not so much on Zoe Saldana, Kevin Hart, Victoria Justice, Rick Ross, Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner, Drake, Joe Jonas and Jared Leto). Maybe a Nicki Minaj wardrobe malfunction can save the day, because Kim Kardashian interrupting her honeymoon to show up and the obligatory fist-pumping from the “Jersey Shore” cast won’t.
The Filler: Continuing the VMA’s, um, grand tradition of trotting out the stars of films you can’t see for another six months to a year to present exclusive “first-look” clips, Jennifer Lawrence will be introducing some hastily assembled rushes from “The Hunger Games” to whet your appetite.
The Newest Moonman: Introducing a brand-new award category, Best Video With a Message, which MTV says “celebrates the powerful intersection of music and social activism, and highlights artists who created music videos with positive messages of self-empowerment or raised awareness of key social issues facing today’s youth.” We’re counting on this one to be as wildly heavy-handed and lacking in all humility as possible.
The Winners: Yeah, you can expect Adele to be Rolling In a Deep Pile of trophies and Katy Perry will be clutching multiple Moonmen to her décolletage, but with both Beyonce and Kayne West multi-nominated and in the house, we eagerly urge someone to advance-pen a sequel protest-prompting tirade from one of them if the other’s edged out.