I got to venture to MTV’s Video Music Awards Monday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The bar was open, the food was plentiful and the entertainment was nonstop from 9 until 11 p.m., even if it was geared toward someone a wee bit younger than me.
Cardi B opened the show cradling what looked like an infant in a blanket—she recently had a baby—but turned out to be a Moon Person trophy. Apparently her husband was among the many she tricked.
Shawn Mendes then came onstage, and offered up a pretty fair performance of “In My Blood” that included some ersatz rainfall toward the end, soaking the Canadian singer-songwriter.
Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart did a bit of comedy. Haddish singled out a certain MTV hit. “Jersey Shore is back and it’s bigger than ever,” she said. “Which makes sense—if you don’t get treatment, that sort of stuff will keep flaring up every couple of years.”
That set up Hart nicely. “That’s a herpes joke!” he noted.
Ken Jeong, former star of Dr. Ken and current star of the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians, spoke for all of us senior members of the crowd, with a shout-out to Barenaked Ladies, Smash Mouth and some other bands you’ve not thought of/heard of in a few decades.
“My boys Smash Mouth, in the house," he said. "Chumbawumba, see you at the Waffle House!"
That was followed by the Backstreet Boys, stepping up to the stage to give out the Song of the Year trophy, with a different band member singing a few bars from each finalist’s songs. The Backstreet Boys are still recording; one can’t help but wonder if they at least considered changing the band name to the Backstreet Men.
Then it was time for Post Malone to step to the stage, claiming his award for Song of the Year, which went to “Rockstar.” I’ve always been interested in Post Malone’s career, for the sole reason that we share a last name. Malone said on Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party some time ago that the moniker came from a rap name generator. Mine came from my folks, if you’re scoring at home.
“This is sick,” said Post as he clutched his Moon Person prize. “Thank you so much.”
Logic and Ryan Tedder next took the stage with a couple dozen immigrant children and their parents, wearing t-shirts that read "We Are All Human Beings.”
Looking fairly regal in gold, Jennifer Lopez did a lengthy, highly energized set, and was given the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. She then delivered an equally lengthy speech that singled out her mother, Tommy Mottola, boyfriend Alex Rodriguez, beaming in the audience, and several others.
“Music, acting, performing—this career has always been kind of an obsession for me,” said Lopez. “When people have said, 'You're doing too much, you can only do one thing,' I always had it in my mind, I was always a person who was like, Why not? Why not?”
MTV used the big stage to announce a comeback for The Hills. The docu-series The Hills: New Beginnings will debut next year, and will feature the original cast members from the series that debuted in 2006.
Madonna then took the stage for an Aretha Franklin tribute, saying the Queen of Soul “changed the course of my life.” Madonna was largely criticized for the tribute, which some called self-indulgent.
Post Malone finished out the show with a performance alongside Aerosmith—Finally! My demographic!—which included bits of “Dream On" and “Toys in the Attic," and loads of fire.
I’d seen the VMAs many, many times on TV, but this was my first time attending the show. It was fun to watch the things you don’t see on TV—the hyper young extras led out of a pit in front of the stage about 15 minutes into the show so the stage could be extended, and later brought back; the endless sweeping of floors after every act, the stagehands pushing the faux subway car across the stage as Lopez performed “Jenny From the Block.”
Fun night. Late night.
Tonight I rest.