How has MTV not learned yet? Did they not get the hint from 2006? Airing the VMAs any day other than Sunday night is a BAD move. And much like the 2006 VMAs, this awards ratings were lower than a limbo bar after 10 rounds. And honestly, I don’t think it was solely because of the night it came on. Admittedly, there were some ingredients that could’ve made this a pretty good show. They had a legitimate funny guy as the host and booked a number of good choices on the performers bill. So it all sounded good on paper; but even I couldn’t anticipate what the show would eventually turn out to be. Let’s take a look at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
No jokes about MTV not hitting up his phone this year because Kevin Hart was selected as the host for 2012. He filmed a series of vignettes to promote the show featuring Taylor Swift, Green Day, and Kimye; shockingly, the Kimye one is the best one. I don’t compliment things involving Kim Kardashian every day, but the latter promo really did get a laugh out of me, mainly thanks to Hart, mind you. Kevin Hart also had a pretty funny opening monologue. Playing off of the election that year, he had his own presidential entrance to get to the stage. And once he got to the stage, we would find out that his monologue had a theme about one of the biggest facts of life: mistakes and how you should own up to them. Riffing on Frank Ocean‘s revelation of previously loving a man, Drake and Chris Brown‘s bar fight, and Kristen Stewart‘s cheating scandal, he went about it in a way that was kind of original for a hosting gig. That’s different at least, and was funnier than Chelsea Handler and Jack Black’s material put together. Hart’s biggest knee-slapper for me at least was his skit with 2 Chainz where he suggested the former Tity Boi update his style and name. It’s funnier than it sounds.
It’s around this time that the presenters list for the VMA’s pretty much stops mattering completely. At this point, they barely contribute anything significant to the show except to hand the winners their trophies. Demi Lovato and Rita Ora presented together and they both looked absolutely gorgeous, but that’s about all I can say about that. Miley Cyrus and Mac Miller presented together and shockingly not a single blunt was lit while they were on-screen. Same for Wiz Khalifa and Kesha when they presented together. Granted Kesha did smoke it up with Big Snoop at the MTV Movie Awards the following year, but that kind of debauchery is what the VMA’s are generally known for. Huge missed opportunity. Psy got to do his silly dance with Kevin, Rebel Wilson got kinda-sorta flirty with The Wanted while carrying a bag of chips, and Rashida Jones tried to bust some rhymes with world-renowned, Grammy-nominated comedy rapper Andy Samberg. Probably the most interesting presenters, though mainly for novelty, were Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber, collectively known as The Fierce Five. Famed for their Olympic gymnastics performances that year, they presented Alicia Keys to the stage. But if you were looking for anything completely insane or shocking from any of the presenters, you were going to be left sorely disappointed by this broadcast.
It really pains me that I have to classify my favorite singer among one of the lesser performances on this night. I am indeed a massive Taylor Swift fan; don’t know if you’ve heard since I probably don’t bring it up much. [cue CM Punk “looking into the camera” GIF] But at the same time, I can be fair and admit that she doesn’t always knock it out of the park vocally in live performances. Sometimes she sounds fantastic live, but other times, you get her various VMA performances, where her vocals just don’t seem to be up to the challenge. Visually, her “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” performance is great; the summertime visuals, Taylor’s sassy quirks and mannerisms, and her choice in costume makes for a totally fun watch. But I would totally understand if someone didn’t like the sound of her voice in this one. However, her vocals here do still sound better than her 2010 “Innocent” performance, so that’s a plus. Taylor’s ex Harry Styles also performed with his One Direction lads in their VMA debut, and I’d judge it if those screaming girls would quiet down for a second. They kept cutting to girls in the crowd (including Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber a few times) and 1D caused an absolute madhouse. Plenty of their female fans were clearly in love with their performance. Too bad I wasn’t. Male tweens idols don’t have that effect on me, so meh.
I really liked Green Day’s performance of “Let Yourself Go”, but I think it’s moreso because it reminds me of the explosive rock performances I wish could still be found on the VMA’s today. This is Green Day’s final VMA appearance to date, and unless MTV gets them to perform “Bang Bang” this Sunday, it might stay that way for the foreseeable future. While Green Day’s performance was loud and energetic, Frank Ocean‘s was quiet and soothing and totally moved a lot of people. It also gave us a silly potato-centric meme, which was another bizarre thing gifted to us by the internet. P!NK‘s performance was weird because she had giant lips moving around the stage while singing “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”; I appreciate when she deviates from the circus act thing, but this was surreal. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz gave, believe it or not, the sole rap performance of the show. And I forgot everything about it. Gabby Douglas was the highlight of Alicia Keys‘ “Girl on Fire” performance, which would totally feature Simone Biles if this took place in 2016, let’s be honest. And Rihanna got an assist from A$AP Rocky and Calvin Harris for her show-starter. Finally, we have Demi Lovato on the pre-show. My massive Demi Lovato fandom probably doesn’t come up much in conversation either, but you probably don’t even need me to tell you that her vocals were pure gold. It wasn’t very theatrical, but that’s the breaks of doing a pre-show performance.
Probably the strangest thing about the nominations this year is that Gotye was barely up for anything. “Somebody That I Used to Know” was inescapable and had an instantly memorable video, yet it only received one major nomination at the VMAs. And it lost. To “We Found Love”. But of course it did; it’s a fan-voted award and Gotye has nowhere near as large a fan following as Rihanna. That said, “We Found Love” had an equally unforgettable video, which shows Rihanna in a toxic, chaotic, drug-fueled relationship with a model guy who I assumed was that kid from Cousin Skeeter when I first watched it. Not my favorite Rihanna video and not even my Top 2 favorite videos in the category (I preferred both Gotye’s video and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” video personally), but definitely made sense as a Video of the Year winner. Also, I hope M.I.A. handled “Bad Girls” losing better than she handle not being nominated at all this year. Returning to the topic of things that make sense, three moonmen were scooped up by One Direction for “What Makes You Beautiful”; a basic beach video if I’ve ever seen one, it won Best New Artist, Best Pop Video, and the absurdly-named, ridiculously-pandering “Most Share-Worthy Video”. Thank God they retired that last one…only to make room for other silly hashtag categories, but still, good riddance.
Two awards were given out on the pre-show; one was Best EDM Video, because this was around the time EDM started to become a huge thing in the mainstream before eventually becoming oversaturated and played-out in 2016. In my opinion, anyway. Calvin Harris won this one for “Feel So Close”, one of few Calvin Harris songs I can actually listen to without the assistance of a featured artist that I generally enjoy. Also, there was the Best Video With A Social Message Award, which marked two firsts: 1) The first VMA victory for Demi Lovato and 2) The first VMA victory for a former Disney Channel star (excluding Mickey Mouse Club members). The former Sonny Monroe‘s very powerful and emotional “Skyscraper” easily beat out Lil Wayne, Kelly Clarkson, Rise Against (what a socially conscious band they are to be in this category two years in a row), and Gym Class Heroes in that category. The victory came over a year after Demi left rehab and released the song and video to wide acclaim. As for other winners: Coldplay’s “Paradise” beat out Linkin Park and Imagine Dragons for Best Rock Video, which kicked off what seems to be a tradition now of stamping out rock music by never giving out the rock award on-air. Drake’s bar-mitzvah themed “HYFR” won Best Hip-Hop Video, Chris Brown beat out Justin Bieber trying to be *NSYNC and my personal favorite Frank Ocean song for Best Male Video with “Turn Up The Music” and Nicki Minaj won her second VMA for “Starships” in Best Female Video. Also, Wikipedia claims they gave a Best Latino Artist award to Romeo Santos, but I can neither confirm nor deny that one.
The ratings for the 2012 Video Music Awards were nothing to write home about. The blame can mostly be placed on MTV’s insistence on holding the show LIVE on a Thursday night, and on the same night Obama spoke at the DNC to boot. But the argument could also be made that no one would miss anything important if they skipped the show because this was a dreadfully forgettable installment. It pains me to say that since I really loved 2012 in popular music, but the VMA’s that year was a terrible ceremony to honor the music of that year. Kevin Hart was a fine host, but not even his enthusiasm and wit saved this show. Even the performances were forgettable, and this is coming from someone who’s a huge fan of most of the artists who took the stage. This is down there with 2007 as one of the worst, and even the argument could be made that 2007 was better than this one because at least stuff actually happened on the 2007 show. Nothing happened on this one, hence why the header photo is a picture of Demi Lovato smooching her moonman in the press room instead of anything from the main show. Make sure to come back tomorrow when I look back on a VMA ceremony where stuff actually happens.