With the premise of being a messy surprise, at least according to creative director Spike Jonze, the YouTube Music Awards was very messy and not surprising at all. At least Jonze did not exaggerate. The show was incredibly messy and not just dipping one’s hands in a cake to pick out winners messy. The entire experience was disappointing.
The lighting was too dark; the sound too low; the direction was missing. Cameras roamed through the area as lost as the presenters must have felt. The most that can be said about Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts is that both should get the biggest sympathy vote of the year. As the show progressed viewers dropped off in droves.
When the award ceremony started quite a lot of viewers had tuned in to watch the proceedings. Right off the bat over 86,000 YouTube devotees “liked” the show compared to over 21,000 who did not. The lack of organization was crippling. No one seemed to know where anyone was and the only parts of the program that seemed slick and professional were the pre-recorded footage interspersed with the live action.
Lady Gaga sang her world premiere of Dope in semi-darkness. One reviewer stated that the artist was crying while performing her song. They must have been wearing night vision goggles as this reviewer could not make out Mother Monster’s face in the gloom. The singing was flat, not like Gaga’s usual level of performance, and slightly off-key. There was also a certain lack of enthusiasm.
If Lady Gaga was crying during her song, it was most likely because she realised that no one could see her.
Some of the gags were as flat as Mommy Monster’s notes. Two babies were presented to Reggie and Jason just before Gaga came on. Like tiny tots the world over, these two cried almost on cue and just enough to make the presenters job all that more difficult. The device of hiding the winning artist in a cake, requiring the two hosts to dig in, was as messy as the overall feel of the YouTube Music Awards and not surprising at all.
Thankfully the cake gag was dropped after the first award. Unfortunately the theme of announcing the winners in a different way for each award got worse with each one. By the time Taylor Swift won the YouTube Phenomenon of the Year Award, not even the live audience could work up any enthusiasm for the blood-covered girl who popped up out of a giant laundry hamper to shout Swift’s name.
The overall event was cringeworthy and not a little boring. The viewers on YouTube obviously felt the same way as number of people actually watching dropped like a stone by 22,000 by the time the Swift win was announced.
The event could be seen as a gutsy attempt to recapture the edge and danger of live television, which Google is trying valiantly to turn YouTube into. It does not succeed in being either innovative or daring. The show comes over as sloppy, lazy, disappointing and bland. Sure this is the first ever inaugural YouTube Music Awards and growing pains are to be expected. Unfortunately, the lack of organization and a script has really let the event down.
It seems almost unbelievable that a program honoring one of the most popular and exciting mediums in the world can be boring and, worst of all, annoying. The YouTube Music Awards were, at least, messy, just as Spike Jonze promised. It was not surprising in the least, unless you want to count being surprised that 41, 788 people were still watching the show by the time Eminem as Artist of the Year was announced.
By Michael Smith