Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!
Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!
Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.
Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.
Today’s roundtable topic asks each anchor their thoughts on the…
2017 MTV VMAs
While “That Grape Juice” will always have you covered, I personally wasn’t the most excited about this year’s VMAs heading into the show.
Beyond a few names, the line-up seemed extremely thin on paper. Most of the established stage-blazers and controversy courters are on tour, out of album cycle, or on maternity leave. Add to that a host whose recent era has been anything but a must-see and my sentiment was just…”blah.”
However, the show pleasantly surprised.
Sure, it wasn’t a patch on the previous years that helped cement the VMA’s reputation. But it altogether pulled from the same bowl of ingredients to serve up something that somewhat satisfied.
Fifth Harmony were far and away the highlight. For all their success, they’re very much still in the “show and prove” phase in the eyes of the masses. And they did exactly that. They showed and proved. Slick choreography was paired with undeniable “moments” that have everyone talking. Yes, that “bye Camila” intro and Normani’s split. The VMAs have always been about OMG’s and 5H definitely delivered most on that front.
Elsewhere, the ever-dependable Pink roused with a retrospective offering that highlighted why (for me) she is a worthy recipient of the Video Vanguard Award and an undoubtable icon of this era. Her speech legitimately made me well up too. 17 years in the game and still rocking it. Much respect!
Other memorable moments came courtesy of come-up queen Cardi B and her pre-show performance of ‘Bodak Yellow’ as well as Kendrick Lamar. His scorching showing and six deserved wins truly cement him as a force beyond the confines of Hip-Hop. Also, kudos to Paris Jackson for her off-script condemnation of the racist rioters in Charlottesville. Continuing her father’s legacy on a platform that he is synonymous with.
For all the “good,” there was a significant presence of basic across the board. Especially Katy Perry.
Much like her current album cycle, her hosting gig happened but didn’t leave a mark. Anywhere. It’s like she remembered she had to do it while rehearsing for her troubled tour and rushed to come up with a few quick SNL-lite skits. The sprinkled-in wokeness worked in some ways, but came across as pandering in others. The whole artist as host thing has been done before and much better.
As for her performance of ‘Swish Swish’ with Nicki Minaj; I loved the scale of it, but it couldn’t dilute the reality that the song is complete and utter rubbish. If anything, it highlighted it the more. Not even the grandiose staging could distract from the miscalculated mess of that release.
And speaking of Nicki, whoever is in Remy Ma’s ear telling her to keep this feud going needs to stop. She’s beginning to look more pressed than petty. Odd, as the mass consensus is that she “won” their feud. Keeping this up will only undo it.
All in all, this year’s VMAs is unlikely to be remembered holistically. It did however, offer a few select moments that add to the show’s rich history.
This year’s ceremony gets a 7 out of 10 from me.
For, though I understand why some may think I’m being a little too generous considering the show’s lack of epic performances delivered back to back, it is unfair to judge the awards show, I have to remember that this has more to do with the industry’s climate than MTV’s ability to put on a good show.
Katy Perry rocked as host and offered an exciting performance of ‘Swish Swish’ with help from collaborator Nicki Minaj. The lack of interaction between the two on stage left me puzzled but did little to take away from what was a cool performance.
Here’s the thing with Fifth Harmony.
Though brilliantly talented vocally, the group often falls short when it comes to choreography as efforts to sell sensuality stand in the way of the technical skill they need to move to the next level as dancers.
The concepts which inspire their moves are dope, but it’s sometimes to difficult to discern what they’re trying to showcase as dancers beyond sex.
It goes without that saying that Pink smashed her appearance as the night’s Vanguard recipient and that the same can be said for Kendrick Lamar and Cardi B (overpowering backing track aside).
Admittedly, the hostess and lineup announced prior to the VMAs airing had already fuelled my low expectations for it. And, sadly, they did not disappoint.
It’s almost sad to see how far the VMAs have fallen; once easily classified as the “hipper” version of the Grammys to now being a cure for insomnia.
The highlights of the night were easily Kendrick Lamar and Fifth Harmony. The former a usual “must see” act on awards show (which is unique for rappers), the latter showing off some serious improvements post Camila Cabello‘s departure. Epileptic vocals aside, the girls put it down…down…down (sorry couldn’t help myself). I was so impressed! Now, if only they could sturdy those shaky vocals.
Finally, Katy Perry did not disappoint as a hostess because she basically brought everything I expected her to bring: quirkiness, dry white girl humor, and awkwardness. It’s her trademark at this point.
All in all, MTV gets an “F” for effort from me.
P.S. – WTF was Lorde doing?! Only white girls can get away with doing that foolishness and not be dragged to the pits of hell and back on Twitter. And, why does the camera man spend so much time filming audience reactions instead of the action on stage?
Who would have thought that the girls from Fifth Harmony would deliver this year’s “VMA moment”? What a symbolic – with a side of shade – way of crystallising the newest incarnation of the group. Interestingly, their intro wasn’t even the best part of their sizzling showing. Dipped in swag and attitude, the ladies performed as if their lives and record contracts depended on it. Looking as unified as ever, it really felt like a new chapter in the story of 5H. The future seems bright for these young ladies. And of course there was THAT split.
It comes as no surprise then that everyone is still picking up their jaws from the floor after that showing and few are talking about Miley Cyrus‘ and Demi Lovato‘s lackluster performances.
The big winner of the night, Kendrick Lamar didn’t disappoint and brought with him literal fire. It’s amazing seeing Hip-Hop music celebrated in such a big way, especially with an artist as talented at its front.
Pink was another highlight, both for her mashup-flavored medley as well as her poignant speech. In one night she has managed to once again showcase just why she’s had such an illustrious career, and that has a lot to do with her dedication to the art and her authenticity both as an entertainer and a human being.
Not even Nicki Minaj was enough to save that dreadful ‘Swish Swish’ performance by host of the night, Katy Perry. Considering the track is kinda-sorta her latest album’s saving grace, I feel like Katy dropped the ball on that one – pun intended.
Shout out to Cardi B for holding her own at the ore-show, she has much more than her money moving now. Congrats.
Happy that Khalid got the Best New Artist gong, I feel he is destined for greatness in the Urban-Pop arena, same goes for Alessia Cara who gave a stellar rendition of ‘Scars To Your Beautiful.’
Overall, it was a “good” show, especially considering the usual suspects (i.e. Beyonce, Rihanna, Gaga…) were absent from the performer list.
Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and your thoughts on the 2017 MTV VMAs.