Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MUSIC TOPIC: Is MTV Exploiting the Drake-Chris-Brown-Rihanna Love Triangle Controversy to Promote the 2012 VMAs?

Twitter is all aflutter with news that Rihanna is up for not one but two Video of the Year nominations at MTV's 2012 Video Music Awards for "Take Care" and "We Found Love." I realize that most award shows are rigged to sell commercials, but I've always been particularly annoyed by the VMAs because they rarely award, or even nominate, the right videos.
In 2007, Rihanna won Video of the Year for her breakout single "Umbrella." She beat Amy Winehouse's lounging video for "Rehab," Beyonce's breakup video for "Irreplaceable," Kanye West's hi-tech revival video for "Stronger," Justin Timberlake's revenge video for "What Goes Around…Comes Around," which starred several actors, including Scarlett Johansson, and Justice's innovative animated-meets-live-action graphic design-heavy video for "D.A.N.C.E."

"Umbrella." The video where it rains sparks, CGI water splashes around, she struts like a ballerina, and does a silver homage to Goldfinger. That video.

Yes it's true. That song is a bonafide earworm. Even if you haven't heard it in the last 5 years, you can still hear it echoing in your head right now. Ella ella eh eh. But not only was Beyonce's song better written and sung, but Justice's video was ten times more impressive. So if it were in MTV's interest to award the Best Video of the Year, they would've given it to Justice. Instead, they chose the new girl who photographs well.
Now, five years later, amidst new controversy concerning her exes Drake and Chris Brown, Drake's video for "Take Care," featuring Rihanna on the chorus, has been nominated four times (Video of the Year, Best Male Video, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography). Maybe they're trying to stir up controversy to get as many eyeballs on the live airing as possible, or maybe they actually think an existential video featuring a mountain, a bull, a bird, a fish, a coy, half-dressed, constantly-caressed Rihanna going in slow motion is worthy of going up against Katy Perry's fairytale video for the regret-filled "Wide Awake" and M.I.A.'s feminist Middle Eastern revolution video for "Bad Girls." How about this? If either one of them can explain what any of those things has to do with the song, they deserve the award? How's that?
If MTV wanted to acknowledge Drake for one of his videos on a grand scale, I would've went with his video for "HYFR (Hell Yeah Fucking Right)" feat. Lil Wayne. It starts off with real footage from his bar mitzvah and then goes into a present day hip-hop bar mitzvah that's far more raucous and debauched. It's clever and worthy of more than just a Best Hip Hop Video nomination (a category that includes Childish Gambino's "Heartbeat," but should actually include his far more controversial and surprising "Bonfire"). And instead of the ass-tastic Nicki Minaj video for "Beez in the Trap" feat. 2 Chainz, they should've nominated Odd Future's "Oldie." I don't even like Odd Future, they're way too aggressive for me, but the video is ten minutes long and it takes place during a Terry Richardson photo shoot for XXL magazine. Tyler, The Creator basically tells Terry to fuck off and each member goes through their verse in a makeshift moshpit. It was bold and unexpected, and that's what the best videos are supposed to be.
Following those standards, I wholeheartedly approve of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" video being nominated for Best New Artist. Yes, it's as vapid and earworm-y as Rihanna's "Umbrella," but the narrative plays out like a Farrelly brothers movie. Girl crushes on boy-next-door, girl washes her car attempting to look sexy, boy-next-door finally comes over to watch her band play, boy-next-door starts crushing on male band mate. Burn! That's hilarious. Even her popstar-filled lip synch video featuring Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez deserves respect. It's refreshing to see any of those kids act normal, even when it's orchestrated. I'd gladly award her over One Direction's beach jaunt in "What Makes You Beautiful" or The Wanted's euro-bash in "Glad You Came." And I'd even get behind Rihanna's other Video of the Year nomination "We Found Love," a video that features a guy who is a Chris Brown lookalike, and "Where Have You Been," which was nominated for Best Choreography. But "Take Care" was just straight famewhoring on MTV's part.

There are some amazing videos out there and they're going unnoticed. I realize MTV is no longer interested in music, but couldn't they change their name and leave the slot open for a channel that does. 

Check out my list of 2011's Best Music Videos.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect closing line.

    I still care about the art of music videos and I thought "We Found Love" was one of the best of the year. That video made me appreciate Rihanna. Her music used to annoy me, still does sometimes, but the quality of her best videos showcase her commitment to the artistry of the format. Going back to her Umbrella year, she used Chris Applebaum, one of my favorite music video directors and even though I couldn't stand that song I recognized his innovative style because of it.

    Same can be said for Drake. I avoided his music, but found an appreciation for his "Find Your Love" video.

    Now to Katy Perry, she puts a lot of work into her videos too. "Thinking of You" is still one of those music videos that amazes me with its story and use of colors and costumes.

    Yes, the VMAs are gimmicky, but regardless of their music Rihanna, Drake and Katy Perry are at the top of their game music video wise. I have muted the sound of their videos and appreciated the visuals, the camera work, etc.

    And all of this is coming from someone who prefers indie rock over pop!!! Lol.

    Good post.