Last Updated on August 25, 2013 by Scott Shetler
Welcome to our live blog of the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards! The VMAs seem to have long ago lost their cultural relevance, but maybe that will change this year if, as expected, Justin Timberlake rejoins his mates in *N Sync for a reunion performance. We also know, thanks to Stephen Colbert, that Daft Punk will be “surprise performers.”
No one is hosting the VMAs this year. MTV is evidently taking a page from the Grammys in that regard, which can only be a good thing, considering the (lack of) quality of some of the VMA hosts in recent years.
Lady Gaga and Katy Perry will both be on hand to perform their new songs, so get ready to “Roar” with “Applause.” Yes, the first cheesy pun of the live blog! Other confirmed performers include Timberlake, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Robin Thicke. That’s a ton of star power, so we’re optimistic about the VMAs this time around.
The pre-show is underway! Sway is interviewing Miley Cyrus. It’s nice to see a familiar face in Sway, since I have no earthly clue who still works for MTV. I’m guessing Kurt Loder and John Norris are long gone. Miley mumbles something about the passing of the torch via the tongue. I’m not going to try to analyze that.
Now Sway is talking with Lady Gaga, who is back at long last. She’s opening the show. We’ll be excited to see what she does with “Applause,” since the single isn’t very good. Maybe she’ll be able to turn it into something special. She reveals that one of her collaborators on her new album is rapper Too Short. Eat it up, Little Monsters!
Two early awards have been presented. Best Collaboration goes to “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink featuring Nate Ruess. Best Rock Video goes to Thirty Seconds to Mars’ “Up in the Air.” How sad that rock music is so out of the mainstream now that the award has been relegated to the pre-show.
The fantastic Emeli Sande is on the red carpet. How in the world is she not up for the Best New Artist award? She’s head and shoulders above the likes of Iggy Azalea and Austin Mahone, for crying out loud.
Two dumb actresses nobody knows are on the red carpet with Wiz Khalifa doing some absurd bit about must-have items for the VMAs, one of which is “beef twerky.” What a waste of time. Am I the only one longing for the old days when Loder and Norris would actually conduct substantive interviews on the pre-show?
Austin Mahone, a kid no one except for teenybopper girls has ever heard of, is lip-synching a song on the red carpet. He’s followed by Ariana Grande, who sings her retro-tastic “Baby I,” the greatest ’90s R&B track we’ve heard since, well, the ’90s. She’s got a great voice. Jade and SWV would be proud.
Thirty Seconds to Mars show up on the red carpet to accept their award. Jared Leto and his bandmates don’t take the presentation very seriously, which is exactly the appropriate reaction to this madness. Leto has super long hair and looks better than he has since his My So Called Life days.
Katy Perry explains that her new album was going to be dark, but ended up being very upbeat instead. Sway makes her roar, which will not be good for her voice. Perry announces that she’s closing the show tonight.
One Direction is on the red carpet. One of them is now engaged to be married, which is simply ridiculous. Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift also show up, but nothing else happens of note on the pre-show, so let’s get ready for the real thing.
2013 MTV Video Music Awards Live Blog:
Gaga is here to open the show in an extreme close-up. Her performance routine includes several outfit and wig changes before finally ending in a shell bikini. Gaga sounds good and her body looks great. But the song is still mediocre. Curse that record exec who told her to make it the first single!
One Direction gives out Best Pop Video to Selena Gomez for “Come and Get It.” I still find it hard to fathom how this girl is popular. There’s no way she should be getting played on the radio and winning Moonmen.
SNL’s Miley impersonator is here to introduce Miley herself. The teddy bears and twerking are back in a wild “We Can’t Stop” performance that recalls the video. Some things never change – MTV bleeps the “dancing with Miley/molly” line, just as they’ve done for years. (Remember Tom Petty complaining in 1995 about his own video being censored?)
Robin Thicke shows up midway through the song to sing “Blurred Lines” with Cyrus. They’re a weird pairing, but Thicke sounds good and takes the early lead for best fashion of the night with a black and white striped suit.
Best Hip Hop Video is awarded to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for “Can’t Hold Us.” “The fact that we are up here with a Moonman is insane!,” Macklemore says.
Leto is back to introduce Kanye West, who unleashes a huge dose of Auto-tune on a new track that shows off his current rock leanings. There’s not much of a hook, but the performance is a lot more groundbreaking and boundary-pushing than probably anything else we’ll see on stage tonight. West’s latest album doesn’t seem to be winning over the masses, but at least the critics are eating it up.
Pharrell, Nile Rodgers, and Daft Punk are here to give out Best Female Video. This is why Daft Punk skipped Stephen Colbert’s show? To show up to the VMAs and do nothing more than hand out an award? Wow, those dudes totally made the wrong choice. Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” beats out Rihanna, Demi Lovato, and Pink, whose “Just Give Me a Reason” was inexplicably up for both Best Collaboration and Best Female Video.
Immediately after, Ed Sheeran gives Best Video With a Message to Macklemore for “Same Love.” No surprise here. Ben gives a touching speech in support of equality.
Fallon introduces Justin Timberlake as “The President of Pop.” That could be a fitting new title. JT begins his performance of “Take Back the Night” on an escalator somewhere in the building. He heads to the main stage and runs through a sequence of his greatest hits, in honor of his winning the Video Vanguard Award for his body of work.
Timberlake sings “SexyBack,” “Like I Love You,” “My Love,” “Cry Me a River,” “Senorita,” and “Rock Your Body.” Has any artist in VMA history included more hits in a single performance? Spoiler alert – we’ll give you the answer: No.
And now here it is, the N Sync reunion! Timberlake sings “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye” with his pals, and in less than two minutes, it’s over. What a letdown! JT moves on to “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors” before wrapping it up. This whole thing was obviously orchestrated effort to give Justin the longest performance in VMA history, his 17-ish minutes surpassing the 15 that Michael Jackson got back in 1995. “I don’t deserve this award, but I’m not gonna give it back,” Justin says about the lifetime achievement honor.
Good lord, Kevin Hart is unbelievably unfunny.
Indie band sighting – Vampire Weekend is here! They give out Song of the Summer, a fan-voted award, to One Direction.
Out NBA player Jason Collins introduces Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who sing “Same Love” with Mary Lambert. This really is a historic moment, considering that for years the VMAs were ruled by Eminem, who regularly spit homophobic epithets on stage and in his music. How times have changed. Jennifer Hudson comes out to finish out the song.
Adam Lambert and Emeli Sande give Austin Mahone the award for Artist to Watch. There was never any doubt he would win, since he has the teenyboppers in his corner. Mahone is a total Justin Bieber clone. He’ll have to figure out some way to establish his own identity if he plans to stick around.
Nostalgia alert! Chilli and T-Boz of TLC are on stage to introduce Drake, who started from the bottom and now he’s here. Drake is the guy I would have preferred to see as the surprise guest during the “Same Love” performance. When is he going to come out of the closet?
T-Swizzle finally shows some love to the male species by presenting Best Male Video. We were rooting for her BFF Ed Sheeran, but Bruno Mars takes it in an upset over Timberlake and Thicke. A solid choice. Go Bruno! Minutes later, he takes the stage to perform “Gorilla,” a very weird song. Mars smartly utilizes lasers and fire to make his performance stand out since he’s not one of the marquee names on the lineup.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt announces that Video of the Year goes to Justin Timberlake for “Mirrors.” Justin accepts wearing an unacceptable black and white shirt and thanks his grandparents.
The show has already gone on way too long, and mercifully it’s over with a “Roar” from Katy Perry, who performs under the Brooklyn Bridge. It doesn’t sound like she’s singing a single note live. Thank goodness for backing tracks.
And now the show is over, and we never saw Will Smith! Will was sitting in the crowd and got a ton of face time on camera, but for some reason he never took the stage to present. How odd.