VMAs Entertain For Better, Worse

A lot was riding on this year’s MTV Video Music Awards – MTV’s one-time flagship event that has crumbled in recent years. This time, the reinvention worked, but some of the performers didn’t play along.

The VMAs used to be more relevant when MTV played videos, but even in the later years it still had historical moments, however puerile, like when Madonna played tonsil hockey with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But the last two years were ratings flops and the VMAs were moved to Las Vegas for a fresh start.

The result – a tight two-hour show at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas September 9th – was heavy on live performances on the mainstage and in special suites where smaller crowds saw intimate performances by Fall Out Boy and 50 Cent / Justin Timberlake / Timbaland.

The show featured knockout performances by a passionate Alicia Keys and a hyperactive Chris Brown. It should have been a comeback.

But for all of the great performances, the highlights of the VMAs – as far as the press was concerned – was Spears’ less-than-stellar reemergence, a scuffle between Pamela Anderson’s two ex-husbands and Kanye West’s exodus.

Spears opened the show – ballyhooed as her comeback performance – but stumbled about as she barely lip-synched the lyrics to her comeback song "Gimme More." The performance was a news item and an Internet "hit" the next morning. Her comeback may have to wait.

Meanwhile, Kid Rock was cited for misdemeanor battery after a tussle with Tommy Lee in the audience, police said. Producer Rich Nice, an eyewitness, said Lee was the instigator even though Kid Rock threw the only blows. Kid could face up to six months in jail but a Las Vegas police spokesman said it is uncommon for someone facing similar charges to receive such a lengthy sentence.

Meanwhile, maybe there is a conspiracy against Kanye West because he is guaranteed to make a scene if he loses. Last year, he crashed the stage at the MTV Europe Awards after not winning for best video. He stormed out in Vegas, throwing a tantrum in front of media and crew backstage as the MTV show was ending. He vowed he’ll never return to MTV.

"That’s two years in a row, man … give a black man a chance," said West, stomping around his entourage and directing his comments at a reporter. "I’m trying hard, man, I have the … No. 1 record, man."

He lost in five categories, including male artist of the year.

Winners included Justin Timberlake for male artist and quadruple threat, Fergie for female artist, Rihanna for video of the year and monster single ("Umbrella"), Fall Out Boy for best group and Gym Class Heroes for best new artist.