The MTV Video Music Awards are a unique phenomenon in the age of Twitter: It’s like having every celebrity scandal of the year happen all within the span of two hours, and also someone occasionally sings or something.
AP Party columnists like myself and Samantha Murray unabashedly love this annual festival of complete nonsense and sometimes shockingly fleeting brilliance. We chatted live throughout the 2014 awards ceremony and didn’t completely lose our minds, so hopefully you won’t either.
[You can watch the VMAs on demand at MTV.com, if you want to read along during the show.]
Opening performance: Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj/Jessie J medley
Samantha Murray: The best thing about Ariana Grande is that she will only let cameras get at a certain side of her face.
Don’t you always kind of feel like someone kidnapped her and is forcing her to be a pop star? It’s not like a cry for help in the Britney Spears way, but in an actual, like, “I DON’T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE, I WANNA GO HOME” sort of way.
Steve Lepore: Her whole career, to me, kind of boils down to her terrible dancing in the “Problem” video.
Murray: It’s like a mega-successful version of that studio that turned out “Friday.” If Drake doesn’t come out during this “Anaconda” thing, I’m done. I mean, I’ll watch the rest of the show, but I’m emotionally done.
Lepore: Ugh, Drake is on tour tonight.
Murray: “He could tell I ain’t missing no meals.” Empowering when said about yourself (???), super passive-aggressive if actually said by the boyfriend.
“Anaconda” and “Bang Bang” is a weird duo because they’re kind of the same song, in that they’re really all about comparing yourself to some other girl that your man could potentially be having sex with. Very popular trope in music.
Lepore: The awkward moment when the first time any of these three have ever met in person is the first live performance of this song.
My problem is that, with zero Drake in the crowd, this performance has zero interesting potential audience crowd shots. Like, you can only show Taylor whitegirl dancing so much, and they have to save a lot for Beyonce.
Murray: Hopefully Harry Styles will be eating oranges again. Rihanna sitting in front of One Direction was the real star of last year’s VMAs.
Katy Perry and Juicy J winning Best Pop Video
Lepore: I feel like we’re all trying to come to terms with Katy Perry’s most recent album being a huge flop, and the VMAs are just enabling anyone who thinks otherwise with this award.
Murray: Prism was so shitty, and that’s such a bummer because prior to that, Katy was becoming the sort of pop vessel that vintage Britney used to be. People just wrote them perfect pop songs and they gave them to us the way that we needed them. Teenage Dream is THEEEEEE BEST. Still. There is a not-small part of me that wants to use Boyce Avenue’s cover of “Teenage Dream” as my wedding song.
Lepore: It’s important to remember that Juicy J has an Oscar.
On Jay Pharoah’s weird, intermittent cameos
Lepore: I see we’re putting Jay Pharaoh in the “We’re not so sure we ever need a host for this again but let’s see if you have the chops so we have someone for the Movie Awards next year.”
Murray: I was going to ask who this person is that’s kind of unfunny and trying to use the Drake-the-type meme without actually going for it.
Lepore: 99 percent of Jay Pharaoh’s standup is a bad Jay-Z impression.
Murray: Who is Ariana Grande holding hands with? Are the Big Sean rumors true? What does Big Sean look like?
Lepore: I kind of just assumed it was Jay Pharaoh doing a Big Sean impression holding hands with Ariana Grande.
Murray: Why didn’t he accept the VMA on behalf of Drake?
Lepore: Our lack of interest in seeing any more of Jay Pharaoh is really conflicting with our desire to see MTV be that lazy.
On this being the Friendship VMAs
Murray: Have you noticed that everyone introducing the live performers have emphasized that they are friends with them? I am curious to know how Kim Kardashian became friends with Sam Smith.
Lepore: Maybe after last year’s show, where everyone was either shading somebody or trying to have sex with them live on stage, MTV wanted a balance.
Murray: This is a very platonic VMAs. Again, emphasis on the friendship between introducer and performer. This is the friendliest VMAs ever. Is that why it’s so boring?
On whatever was going on with Miley Cyrus in the crowd
Murray: Miley is 100 percent not about this. She hasn’t seemed into anything she’s seen tonight. Which is understandable, because this has been pretty basic.
Lepore: It’s possible that she’s peacefully on a shitload of drugs, and I’m more willing to buy that than the idea that she’s just not enjoying anything.
Murray: I mean, that could be it, but I feel like Miley is probably more of an uppers girl if she’s taking anything and would instead be super into anything she’s seeing.
On Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” performance, and Lorde’s intro
Murray: Lorde dresses like Florence (and the Machine — the Machine also dresses like that).
Lepore: If Florence were an Amish vampire.
Murray: Taylor’s body looks sick, but her new haircut just does nothing for me. Lorde is dressed like a renaissance bat.
Lepore: It’s amazing that Taylor is just trying out this whole pop star thing for the first time, and is more comfortable than Ariana Grande, who has been groomed for this by Nickelodeon.
Murray: VMA producers somehow did not do a rapid cut of all her exes in the audience?
Lepore: Most of Taylor’s exes are a little old to be here.
Murray: Harry Styles is probably here, no? Joe Jonas is not relevant enough and everyone else is too old.
On Fifth Harmony’s win for “Rising Artist”
Murray: What is Fifth Harmony?
Lepore: Girl group — our 4000th attempt to make girl groups a thing again.
Murray: What I’m really learning this VMAs is that I’m completely out of touch with what MTV is doing right now, and I’m still… pretty pop culture savvy, I would say. I know what’s happening on the internet, I’m not like absorbing things through People magazine or Good Morning America. I feel weird.
Lepore: Are we really trying to convince ourselves that we’re “with it”? I think it’s kind of fun that I can’t follow everything anymore. Embrace your inner dad.
On Maroon 5’s performance
Lepore: It’s impossible to do this when I know you still like Maroon 5 and think Adam Levine is sexy. You should recuse yourself from this section of the show.
Murray: I am an unapologetic Maroon 5 fan and hooked up with many budding Adam Levines in my day. I would like to be kind of hipster about it and be like “Songs About Jane was a great album, okay?!” But like… “Maps” is definitely on the four-song playlist I listen to on my commute lately.
I like to listen to the four songs that really speak to me at any given time. I listen to them over and over again until I find new ones. It’s sort of a social experiment to see how many times any given person sitting next to me on a train can hear “Shower” before they punch me in the face.
Lepore: I am convinced that someday someone is going to hold a gun to my head and make me name a non-Adam Levine member of this band, so I’ve kept James Valentine stuck in my mind just in case, through some weird nemonic device regarding Valentine’s Day.
On Miley Cyrus’ win for Video of the Year, in which she allowed a homeless teen to accept her award
Murray: I miss “Wrecking Ball.”
Lepore: I like Miley, but please stop tacitly giving Terry Richardson approval.
Murray: What’s happening here? … Oh, shit. Goddamn, Miley.
Lepore: MILEY PULLING A MARLON BRANDO, while somewhere, right this second, Robin Thicke is telling a 19-year-old girl to cry while kissing his feet.
Murray: I don’t think he has to tell her to cry. I’m sure it’s already happening.
Murray: This is another missed opportunity for a Drake cameo. The spirit of Drake lingers over these awards.
Should we be reading this as a message regarding the rumors? This song is all about her and Jay overcoming strife and staying together. Since it hasn’t been a major single release, it was probably chosen for a reason.
Lepore: Gotta see what the rest of the setlist is.
Her self-titled album has aged so, so, so well. It’s almost as if she knew what the next year was going to be and put out a record warning us.
Murray: God, it’s so good.
Lepore: This is super low-key.
Murray: Everytime Beyonce performs, it’s a master class. Like, “Hey guys, see how it’s done? See how a sick body without ridiculous ass implants looks in a leotard?”
I hope Blue wants to be, like, a doctor. I don’t have it in me to watch someone struggle to live up to Beyonce.
Lepore: “Partition” is legitimately great. I just listened to it again before the show. Beyonce trotting out the awesome pro-feminist message of her record, flaunting how MTV is desperate and let her do pretty much whatever she wanted.
Murray: It kills me that she always actually emphasizes the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie part of “Flawless.” She did the same thing in concert. She is the queen. I’m going to sing my daughters this song as a lullaby.
Lepore: Fox News is going to be furious about this.
Murray: I feel like Beyonce might want people to stop saying she’s getting divorced?
That was a very chill performance but very well done, I would say.
Lepore: This is so great — why can’t we just make this the Beyonce Awards? I have forgotten everything that happened in the previous two hours.
Murray: Beyonce definitely wants people to STFU about a divorce. I don’t want Beyonce to have a reality show, but I just want… a live feed of her at all times? I don’t know, sometimes I just get really overwhelmed by how I feel about Beyonce. Beyonce is everything.
Lepore: I know. I know.