It's been a long time since I looked forward to the MTV Video Music Awards. As a kid I savored the sight of Howard Stern as Fart Man swinging over the crowd in a pair of assless pants or Paula Abdul sausaged into her leotard, but 15 or so years ago the event boarded a one way train to Snooze City. Or so I thought. And then last night blew my mind. You're probably better off heading to MTV.com to see clips of the show for yourself, but here are a few of the high -- and low -- lights:
Madonna -- proving that style-challenged Nebraskan sorority girls aren't the only ones who can (un?)successfully rock a Bump It! -- started off the night on a self-indulgent note by impersonating an earnest zombiess who once spent a Friday night eating Cheetos and watching Sister Act on VHS with Michael Jackson and wanted to let the world know about it, but thought better of it and decided to talk about herself (including copious references to her mother's death) instead. Then, after a troop of sparkly Michael Jackson impersonators took to the stage, a wasp-waisted Janet Jackson dueted with her late brother on an especially snarly version of "Scream" and ended the number with her hair plastered to her face (dancing -- and whale bone corsets -- make you sweaty!) and a "Fuck You" look that could have been dedicated to the three Michael haters left in the world or the tabloid editors who continue to run those pics of her looking like Paddington Bear.
Taylor Swift -- sweet as snorting Stevia but boring as the missionary position -- didn't get the chance to bask in the glow of her first VMA win for Best Female Video because hip hop's resident attention starved ego maniacal bad guy, Kanye West, jumped up on stage like the Hamburgerler come lunchtime and snatched the mic from her dainty country music strumming hands. While the camera time alone was probably enough to make West's night, he came armed with a purpose -- defending fair Beyonce's honor by arguing her "Single Ladies" video was the true winner. The stunt was met with boos, West's performance was cut, and Beyonce (who did a great rendition of the hit with 30 back up dancers) proved what a classy broad she truly is when, after winning Video Of The Year, she forfeited her moment in the spotlight to allow Swift to give the acceptance speech she had been denied earlier.
Lady Gaga arrived decked out in a Jean Paul Gaultier gown and a designer neck brace beside her date, Kermit the Frog, and the two spent more time making out than answering questions during their pre-show interview (maybe bestiality is the new black?). Her performance of "Paparazzi" was Madonna's 1984 "Like A Virgin" VMA performance meets Madonna's 1990 "Vogue" VMA performance meets ER meets Stephen King's Carrie. After narrowly escaping death by crashed chandelier, hobbling around on a designer crutch (alongside a dancer cruising in a bling-ed out wheelchair), and karate chopping the hell out of the song's bridge on the piano, Gaga's abodomen began seeping blood and soon she was gushing, splashing, and rubbing it across her face. She ended the number hanging above the stage like a psychotic hemorrhaging pinata, thereby reasserting herself (as if anyone had any doubts) as the most exciting performer in pop music -- or any genre for that matter. Continuing the gore theme, Gaga later accepted the award for Best New Artist (she thanked her family, God, and the gays) wearing a blood red dress, mask, and crown. At the end of the show she made yet another costume change, this time appearing as an Inuit sea anemone.
Like everyone else last night, no matter how strange, lovely, or brilliant Gaga looked and sounded, the show belonged to Kanye West and Taylor Swift. I'm waiting to hear what Gaga thoughts on West's shenanigans (the two are scheduled to kick off a tour together in a few weeks), but in the meantime, I'm going to continue watching her performance on repeat. I suggest you do the same thing.