Today, the music industry involves more than just music. Music videos, performances and catchy choreography are what propel artists to the top of charts and gain them their massive success. A single or an album alone cannot rock the world like it used to. And this is what MTV's Video Music Awards celebrates - the evolution of music into something visual.
With that being said, you'd expect the actual performances at the VMA's to be some of the best, right? Well, let's find out if that true or not together as I recap all the performances at the 2019 MTV's Video Music Awards from the pre-show to the end.
Megan Thee Stallion
The purpose of a pre-show performance is to get the audience hype for the main show, and Megan, like the other pre-show performers, did that quite well. She performed her most popular songs like “Hot Girl Summer” and “Cat Sh*t” with decent breath control and back-up dancers that would put us all to shame. Considering that the size of her stage was the size of my bedroom, Megan didn't have a lot to work with, but she did her best and was mildly entertaining.
The sceptic in me refuses to believe that this Latin boyband was singing live throughout their dance-filled performance of “De Cero”. Although all their lyrics are in Spanish, the entire pre-show crowd was screaming anyway. That may be because it wasn't their songs that fascinated the crowd of girls. CNCO is huge in the Latin community and to have them perform in the pre-show at the VMA's is odd, but understandable. Nevertheless, their performance was intense and fun to watch. Unlike many boy bands, they can all sing quite well and they can all dance, too. Rare.
Perhaps one of the newest performers of the night - Ava Max stole the heart of the crowd with a mashup of her popular single “Sweet but Psycho” and “Torn”. Throughout her performance there were many instances where I swore I was watching early 2010's Lady Gaga. She sounds, looks, and dances just like her. It's uncanny. Did Ava Max bring anything new and different to the MTV VMA's this year? No, but watching her sing her heart out was satisfying on its own. Even if she didn't land most of the notes.
After the pre-show performances had ended end, the countdown got more intense. In a flash, my television screen was black, then, lights. And three figures were lying under the single spotlight in lawn chairs, the figure in the middle being none other than, Taylor Swift.
The main show opens with Swift's performance of her newest hit “You Need To Calm Down” with dramatic stares and flamboyant spins to the sudden stop-beats of the drums before colours and rainbows explode on stage. Several dancers emerge with her and the party begins. As expected, Taylor Swift's performance went big with so many things happening on stage you wanted to look everywhere. This performance wasn't as visually exhausting as her recent performances of “ME!”, however. I think Taylor struck the balance well this time between the larger than life visuals and the song itself. Vocally, Taylor did her best in spite of her jumping around on stage, but the heavy back track supported her well enough. Swift then got a chance to connect with the audience by slowing the pace, slinging on her acoustic guitar and beginning to sing the title track of her new album, “Lover”. Flashlights began to wave in the audience and magic seemed to irradiate from her. An amazing start to the night.
After Taylor came the host of the awards. As he spoke all I could think was “why?”. To say Sebastian Maniscalco was not funny would be a detrimental euphemism. Sebastian Maniscalco's humour is the type of humour that is cringe-worthy in the worst way possible. Normally, you would laugh at him because that's what his jokes are made for, but I couldn't even do that. I felt sorry for him, if anything. What Sebastian evoked in me was a toe-curling, teeth-grinding desire to get up and turn off the TV. His entire comedic voice was intended to be him not understanding internet lingo, fandoms and things of the like, but this concept is so overdone that it's exhausting to watch. Moreover, it's ridiculous considering it's the fandoms giving them all their views.
The second performer to grace the stage was our generation's closest thing to Mick Jagger, Shawn Mendes. Unfortunately, if you've seen one Shawn Mendes performance, you've seen them all. He goes up there strumming that guitar and singing “If I Can' Have You.” Then, he leaves the mic stand, walks around a little and proceeds to a newly placed mic stand. Wash, rinse, repeat. Shawn has a great voice and his music is interesting, but his performances are always the same. A part of being a performer, I believe, is evolution and creativity. All things Shawn Mendes lacks. If I could, I would have skipped this performance.
Speaking of creativity, Lizzo hit the stage next. First, she begun belting out the lyrics that everyone and their mother knows from her top ten single, “Truth Hurts” before transitioning into “Good as Hell”. Stopping midway, Lizzo preached to the audience about self-love while a choir wrapped harmonies behind her. She took the entire VMA's to Church with her powerful message of feeling Good as Hell. Lizzo proved herself once again as a legendary artiste with passion, talent and a fresh voice. Needless to say, by the end or her rousing performance I was on my feet and it felt good as hell.
The Jonas Brothers
The fourth performance came from the Jonas Brothers which, by its end, felt more like a branding commercial from Toyota. The Jonas Brothers are seasoned performers and they did what they always do, get the crowd hyped, belt out notes, and jump around. Though recycled, their little hints of choreography and walking through the crowd made it interesting enough to watch and the song choice of “Sucker” and “Only Human” fitted their performance well. The Jonas Brothers gave what we have all come to know and expect but kept it entertaining, nonetheless.
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X has certainly placed himself with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West in terms of performance quality. In Lil Nas X's performance, we live in a future where there are over 3,000 remixes of Old Town Road and a new one is on its way. Our society is dystopian, but familiar and androids are frozen on stage with Lil Nas. Surprisingly, he starts rapping his newest single, “Panini”. Well, rapping is a stretch. Panini was playing while Lil Nas X and his dancers gave a massive performance filled with choreography, insane bio-luminescent costumes and flashing lights. It's understandable why he lip-synced the performance. By the end, he was sweating buckets and the entire audience was on their feet. To see a male rapper deliver a performance like that is the most refreshing thing to happen at the 2019 MTV VMA's.
After a quick commercial break, the face of an icon suddenly appears on my television screen. Missy Elliot. The recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award was beginning to perform and everyone was watching in anticipation. Missy diced up some of her most iconic music video imagery into this performance from the big bubble suit to the canfields, her music video imagery and concepts were merged well across the VMA stage. It was an absolute joy to witness and it's obvious why Missy deserved the biggest award of the night. Never missing a step or a syllable Missy rapped her way directly into our hearts with passion and strength.
I can now say that I believe that their relationship is real. Prior this performance, I was skeptic that the pictures were just a ploy to get their sexual and intimate single “Senorita” to number one on the charts, but as they performed said single on stage the chemistry was almost tangible, and I wasn't even there. Though Shawn came equipped with that stupid guitar and mic stand again, Camila saved the performance with her sexy wines and mesmerizing stares. A lot better than what I expected and vocally quite impressive.
The VMA's were promoting Miley's performance as crazy and unforgettable and, in a way it was. In a gray scale filter while singing her newest single “Slide Away”, the woman on stage was not the wild Miley still branded into our memory but instead, meaningful and raw. Miley's vocals were crazy and the way she trapped the entire room with her heavy lyrics was incredible. It's easy to forget just how good of a performer Miley is, but every now and then she reminds us. This is one of those performances.
The first Latin performance of the night, Rosalia began her performance in true melodramatic telenovella fashion in a huge gown with a single spotlight on her agonizing face as she belted out the heart wrenching lyrics of “A Ningun Hombre”. Then, in true Reggaeton fashion, the gown is stripped away and reveals a fitted dress with thigh high boots. The choreo begins and Rosalia transforms into a goddess as she sings “Yo x Ti Tu x Mi”. In the second chorus Ozuna joins her on stage but needless to say all eyes were still on her. When she began her third song “Aute Cuture” we hardly realized he was gone. Rosalia's voice as she danced was chillingly exciting to watch and she definitely put a lot of previous performers to shame.
There isn't much to say about a H.E.R.'s performance. She delivered a tough message that a lot of people aren't ready to hear just yet with deep and sultry vocals before she pulled out her electric guitar to showcase her multifaceted talent. Though she wasn't as stoic as she usually is and was actually walking on stage, her performance certainly did not wow me nor the audience.
The ex-fifth harmony member made use of all the hype surrounding her recent single and its music video “Motivation” and gave the performance of a lifetime. Everyone knows Normani can dance, and she did just that, and excellently too, but it was her powerful, confident and sassy vocals that really stuck out to me. This early in her career it's rare she gets to perform on the VMA main stage but Normani Kordei proved to everyone that she deserved to be there as much as everyone else. Showstopping. Jaw-dropping. Beautiful. Normani is a force to reckoned with.
Big Sean and Asap Ferg
Bringing good vibes and the most catchy party song I've heard this year, “Bezerk”, Big Sean and A$AP Ferg brought the VMA live audience to their feet. Their performance certainly wasn't spectacular or creatively genius, but it felt good. It was a vibe and it gave everyone something to dance to. Not to mention at the end A$AP Ferg and Big Sean started cutting it up on stage with their dancers by doing a little bit of the choreography. You can tell they were having a great time and the energy was infectious.
J Blavin and Bad Bunny
The biggest global ambassador's for Reggaeton Bad Bunny and J Balvin performed their track “Que Pretendes” erupting enough intrigue with their weird costume designs and cartoon stage props. Half-way through, it got a little old, especially considering their lyrics weren't in English but it was fun enough to watch them perform with real joy and carefree.
Jean, Fetty Wap, Queen Latifah, Naught By Nature, Red Man
The last performance of the night was a mashup of New Jersey based artists performing their biggest hits. It didn't quite have the huge finale effect I think they were going for, but it was enjoyable to watch and closed the show off nicely. With a few memorable hits and a lot of hype, the MTV VMA's ended on a pretty good note.
Did you watch the VMA's this year? If you did, whose performance did you think was the best? Tell us in the comments below!