A Strong Opening is Key: The anticipation was greater than the performance, but the show started off on the right foot when Eminem made his long awaited return to the MTV Video Music Awards performing a medley of his two hits songs, Not Afraid and Love the Way You Lie featuring a surprise appearance by Rihanna. Seeing Mr. Mathers start his performance on a underground stage, reminiscent of his 8 Mile days, is a reminder of his growth as an artist. Back then, Eminem was just as apt to spit a rhyme as he was to spit in your face, but here he's pensive and apologetic, though his duet with Rihanna hinted at fire beneath the surface. And Rihanna's fire engine red hair is no longer a distraction, clownish at first, I'm getting used to the new look.
A STRONG OPENING IS KEY: Then Chelsea Handler, host of her own eponymous late night talk show on E!, hit the stage in a parody of Lady Gaga, complete with a steel cage of a dress and a house-shaped headpiece that a scared dove barely flew out of. To be honest, I'm not a fan of Handler, so she was already three feet in the grave when she started her dry monologue. I laughed once and that was only because my sister's response to one of her jokes was funny. Handler seemed to have a bit of humor obsession with black males: from joking about doing a 'prayer circle' with Snoop Dogg, to riding off with Rick Ross at the end of her monologue to a video clip where her butt was being slapped by various black men as she walked down a hallway. At one point a group of three black guys chase her down the hallway for a chance to smack dat a**. Not…my…favorite…moment. Handler is only the third female to host the VMAs and her work last night made the argument that she should be the last.
Goo-goo for Gaga: Lady Gaga and her little monsters (as she calls her fans) ruled the night winning top honors, Video of the Year, for her video for Bad Romance. It a shame that she didn't perform, but she certainly entertained with her ever changing wardrobe; in one outfit she appeared to be dressed as gilded peacock complete with a spiked golden feather headpiece, but nothing topped her finale meat dress with ground chuck beret and mutton chop boots. Clothing aside, The Lady seemed genuinely happy and touched by the wins and when the audience was given the opportunity to look beyond her appearance, it was clear to see that she has a hell of a voice, which she gave a taste of when she sang a couple of acapella bars from her upcoming album Born This Way. My head went askew though when she said, 'God bless pop music and God bless MTV.' The home of the Real World and Jersey Shore needs God's provisions? On second thought, maybe they do.
Swift & Kanye - the Sequel: Everyone was wondering what would happen with the participants in last year's most talked about VMA moment returned to perform. Both chose to address Kanye's behavior; Swift's song Innocent offered forgiveness and hope for redemption: It's okay/life is a tough crowd/32 and still growing up now/who you are is not what you did/you're still an innocent. Kanye's song selection was more self-deprecating, odd for the notoriously egotistical performer. That's why I took a look at the lyrics, which honestly, feel more like a man that knows who he is and unapologetically asks you to put up or shut up; Every bag, every blouse, every bracelet/ Comes with a price tag, baby, face it/ You should leave if you can't accept the basics/Plenty b*****s in the baller-player's matrix/Invisibly set, the Rolex is faceless/I'm just young, rich, and tasteless. Doesn't sound like an act of contrition to me, but it's Kanye…why would it be?
What's a Bieber?: I guess it's my age, but I don't get Bieber fever and quite frankly, I hope I never catch it if it means that I drool over a prepubescent with a bowl cut. His performance was live only in the sense that it aired as it was recorded. His dance moves are Usher-lite (makes sense considering that Usher's his musical mentor). There's nothing about him that makes me think this kid has the career of a white Michael Jackson instead he's more like this generation's Aaron Carter.
High on Hyperbole: is Drake truly the most exciting artist out here right now as Justin Timberlake excitedly proclaimed? And really? Kim Kardashian is a fashion icon? I nearly choked on my dinner when I heard that .
M-T-Ehhh…: the live performances didn't have much buzz worthiness, no water cooler moments. It's one of those rare times where I actually didn't want to hear the album version and was desperate to hear someone step outside the box. I would think the MTV stage is the one place that you could risk take with relativity little backlash. Kudos to Florence and the Machine for offering something that made me sit up, but otherwise…slim pickings.
Age ain't nothing but a number: When Cher stepped onto the stage to present the last award of the night wearing her, at one time scandalous If I Could Turn Back Time peekboo spandex leotard with garters, I thought to myself, this woman is 64 and working it better than half the people there and most of the people half her age. God bless her!