Chaos & Disorder: Youtube Music Awards Wrap Up
Those that witnessed the unscripted madness of the inaugural Youtube Music Awards bore witness to a spectacle of unparalleled proportion. Hosted by the human synthesizer Reggie Watts and Wes Anderson's golden-boy Jason Schwartzman, the manic show was directed by Spike Jonze, but wasn't the most organized distribution of superlatives we've ever seen. Glitches and clutter were the two strongest characteristics of the show, however it did sport some more than memorable moments chronicling the come-up of the platform and the named/nameless fruits of that transcendence, not mention live one-off music videos from Arcade Fire, Earl Sweatshirt & Tyler The Creator, Eminem, M.I.A, and Lady Gaga. So without further adieu, here's our round up the most compelling and chaotic highlights from the show.
An Auto-Tuneless T-Pain Delivers A Few Lines From "I'm On A Boat"
In what must have been one of the many shocks to the various systems observing and contributing to the spectacle that was the YTMA, the unfamiliar and unfettered voice of T-Pain made an appearance along with the cartoonish top-hatted auto-crooner. During the opening musical's rather whimsical Unabridged History Of Music On Youtube, CDZA went through the chronology of YT's viral catalogue from "Call Me Maybe" to "Gangnam Style", and when it was time to for "I'm On A Boat" out popped T's unauto-tuned vocal treatment. Let's just say we should all be grateful that we rarely hear his untreated voice.
Macklemore Thanks The Shroom Dealer Of His Adolescence
In the first of the few actual awards given out at the show, Macklemore accepted the Breakthrough Award with the hosts of the show each sporting a baby that Rashida Jones inexplicably dawned on them. After receiving the award, Mack chose to thank all the regulars; elementary school teacher, parents, fiancee etc. However, to cap his list of shout-outs he decided to extend a thanks to "the person that used to sell me shrooms when I was a teenager." And to whoever that unnamed individual is, we thank you too.
Odd Future's Performance Of "Sasquatch" In A Pink Box
In a glitchy energy oozing performance, Odd Future through down what was easily the most hype performance of the show, playing Earlxsweats's "Sasquatch" off his solo debut Doris, inside of what seemed like a tiny pink cage-box-thing. He was joined by Tyler, The Creator and fellow OFWGKTA member Taco (the clear hype-man of the group) which made for one hell of a riotous claustrophobic performance, but stayed true to the group's raucous on-stage repertoire.
Reggie Watts' "Innovation" Interlude (OK GO Paints Schwartsman's Face)
In what was certainly this writer's favorite moment of the night, the hosts of the show detracted into a brief interlude, during which A/V artists OK GO paint Schwartzman's face, all while Reggie plays an upbeat, nonsensical ditty. What ensues is pure hilarity and should certainly be considered as more of a staple to the show in future installments. It was refreshing, entertaining and applied the multi-faceted mixed media experience that the award show is supposedly helping to propagate. The only thing that could possibly drive this point further would be if somehow the two hosts got together and jammed mid show. Oh wait..
Watts x Schwartzman Jam
Would it be cruel to say that the two hosts impromptu jam (smack-dab in the middle of what was already an incredibly choppy and rather mindless show) was perhaps the best musical segment(s) of the show? On two separate occasions through the show, Reggie manned his synth-n-loop rig, while Schwartzman hopped on the kit and what came of it was two raw-as-dirt jams that featured Watts' seamless and soaring vocal styles over the drummer's hard breaks. This one's a real treat that we hope has been cemented into the YTMA tradition.
Win Butler Pulls A Cheap Yeezy
Kanye has done a marvelous job of keeping people talking all on his own. In walks Arcade Fire's Win Butler interrupting the acceptance speech of a group of little girls for their cover of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble." The bandleader sputtered out something reminiscent of Yeezy's VMA antics:
"Not 'Taylor Swift, Imma let you finish' . . . but the YouTube Phenomenon of the Year was definitely the 'Harlem Shake."
Butler clearly didn't do all of his homework on this one. It was a half-hearted and cheap trick that made it seem like Ye should have just been there. After all, the off-beat show would have been an ideal venue for one of his recent capitalistic critiques/self-help speeches.
M.I.A's Disorienting Rave Tunnel & Texting Hula-Hoopers
Caution: rapidly moving lights may cause seizures. In M.I.A's performance of the single "Come Walk With Me" off her new album Matangi, the destroyer of all genres went all Enter The Void with it, dancing through and about a dizzying array of LEDs in what looked like a tunnel (more Willie Wonka tunnel than the Lincoln Tunnel) Not to mention the sari'd and veiled backup dancers that might as well have been patting their heads and rubbing their tummies as they illustriously texted and hula-hooped. We're just surprised there weren't any exiled international fugitives skyping in mid-performance.
Eminem's "Traditional" Black & White Video Performance
And finally, the coup de grace of the disjointed and often hectic first-run award show was Eminem's black & white throwback video for "Rap God." The elite rhyme-sayer delivered machine-gun raps over minimalist boom-bap production, reminding us of the days where he would have been the show's x-factor. But instead he came off dated in the realm of LED tricks and smoke & mirror stage furnishings. Em gave his best bars, but was out-shined (quite literally) by his fellow performers.
The night also featured a short film scored by Avicci and written by Girls' LenaDunham, but that was less musical and more a wealthy 21st century hipster's take on a drug-addled Romeo & Juliet with a "choose your own adventure" twist at the end. All in all, the inaugural Youtube Music Awards left a lot to be desired with its lack of continuity and generally frantic pace. However, there is plenty of promise in the idea of a democratically approached awards platform outside of The Teen Choice Awards. Lets hope they work out the kinks for next year. You can watch the entirety of the show below to bear witness to the chaos that ensued Sunday night.