Friday, August 09, 2013

The 2013 MTV VMAs: Missing the Talent in a Crowd of Downloaded Songs

Its that time of the year again, a while back MTV announced the nominees for the MTV Video Music Awards and the main event will take place in a few days. This year the trend to let people vote for the awards has consolidated the big show into a popularity contest that has definitely affected the quality and credibility of the awards itself.

To me its just a miracle MTV knows who to nominate. They barely play music today, except for the soundtrack of the gazzillion reality shows they have on. Music is expensive to play, but its just absurd how the channel that brought music as an art form to the mainstream has reduced itself to showing kids it might be lucrative to have a child at 16 or to embarrass yourself as a drunk whore on national (international really) television.

Anyways, back to the music. This year, nominees for Video of the Year are 2013 sensation Macklemore+Ryan Lewis with "Thrift Shop"; sophemore Bruno Mars whose single "Locked Out of Heaven" led his "Unorthodox Jukebox" album to a successful stint following a huge debut album; ever depressed and heartbroken Taylor Swift with John Mayer/Harry Styles ode "I Knew Your Were Trouble"; summer hit song "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T. I. and Pharell; and in my opinion, the years most disappointing comeback, Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors" (don't kill me just yet, i have a point for this).

I cannot say that this year has been disappointing, musically speaking in general, but I have to say that the music that has come out has lacked energy and is in general very emotional songs that make for simple videos and henceforth, videos have been equally mellow and simple. The fact that music is more expensive to produce and cheaper to sell does not help, since whatever you can upload on youtube will suffice in getting your music out there.

The last time Justin Timberlake was nominated for Video of the Year, was back in 2007 when "What Goes Around... Comes Around" was nominated in the midst of the "SexyBack" hurricaine where he didn't get more recognition to back his "Male Artist of the Year" moonman because of a lacking video/short film. This was also when MTV started to bury the awards giving away awards to artists instead of videos (although we'll never forget Brit-Brits 'comeback' performance). I wouldn't have seen Justin winning otherwise.

In my opinion, a music video should deliver the emotions of the song, with the added value of images that complement (not necessarily replicate) the story told by the artist, creatively showing a few minutes of interesting story boarding delivered in a parallel reality to that of the song. It will make you want to see the video even though the song sucks (it helps if it doesn't).

In my opinion, MTV should have kept a closer look to its pro board who decided the creative nominees and go with these for its VotY Nominees:

"National Anthem" by Lana Del Rey
Directed by Anthony Mandler

You want to go retro? You want to go artsy? You want good cinematography? Check out the video from the sophomore album of this produced artist (im still in the bandwagon that Lana is a makeshift from a record company to tease and make money out of the hipsters) and you'll see what i mean. Please just ignore the fact that the video came out in july last year. If MTV moninated her, then so can I.

"Up in the Air" by 30 Seconds to Mars
Directed by Jared Leto.

If video making can still be considered an artform, then Jared Leto has to be considered an artist in the high ranks of the great painters of the world. 30 Seconds to Mars has strived to make bigger and better videos and if you dont believe me, try to see all of the videos out of "A Beautiful Lie" and deny this fact. Jared has proved to be a multifaceted artists and a talented one at it.

"Sacrilege" by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Directed by Megaforce.

You needed hope for music in 2013? Your Black Keys album is scratched? Well, turn to Karen, she'll comfort you and this video will make you think you're watching some David Finch movie masterpiece, all in just under four minutes

"Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring Pharell and T. I.
Directed by Diane Martel.

One of the two actual nominees for Video of the Year, the simplicity and the audacity of it is what makes it a worthy nominee: killer track, great attitude and flesh (lots of it). Music needs to be more honest and pop music (almost) always delivers honesty. Hopefully Robin will pick up on this tracks success and stay permanently in the top charts, which is hard to do (Ask Michael Buble)

"Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars and the Hooligans
Directed by Cameron Duddy and Bruno Mars.

Bruno had a lot on his back while recording his second album. Mostly, how well he did with it both on the charts and critically speaking. But he delivered, and "Locked Out of Heaven" played out to be a refreshing song that picked of where he left. The video has certain special effects that at first i thought were meant to be 3D, turns out its supposed to look like a busted vhs cassette. The video is fun, lacks technique, but makes up in effort.

The effort by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and the biggest songs of the year (and probably their career) just didn't bring it to my yard with their videos. Depeche Mode's video for "Heaven" should have been at least considered for technical nominations, among other absentees im sure im missing due to music videos turning into a youtube scavenger hunt now a days.

Those are my two cents.