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…
2018 MTV VMAs
Before delving into the ins and outs of what the 2018 VMAs served up, I’m compelled to express my frustration with what was so clearly lacking — star power!
For a show so historically rooted in shock-value, the biggest surprise for me was how many major names no-show’ed — despite being in town. Beyonce and Jay-Z received 8 noms and, more notably, were around for their New York ‘On The Run II’ dates – and yet…nothing. Similarly, Janet Jackson launched this mega comeback campaign on the eve of the show – also in New York – and again nothing.
It’s anyone’s guess what the “why’s” are, but the end result of their absence (and that of acts of their ilk) was an overwhelming air of mediocre. Especially when considering that we had to sit through snoozer showings from the likes of Maluma, Travis Scott, and Post Malone.
It’s crystal clear who organisers were aiming to engage (Gen-Z), but it’s always imperative to remember that a hit song and an engaging performer are not always one in the same. Like, it literally feels like producers of today comb through Spotify charts, pick whoever is the top 10, and hope for the best when it comes to the show. Surely, there should be a more nuanced approach to balancing popular songs and ensuring the performance element lives up the show’s rich history. Surely?
Some waved the flag for entertainment value such as J.Lo with her Vanguard offering and Ariana Grande whose ‘God Is A Woman’ performance (with its concept, staging and conviction) serves as her best live showing yet. Elsewhere, Nicki Minaj delivered on the more commendable end of her skillset. Take from that what you will.
Staying with Onika, she delivered one of the few moments rooted in the VMAs “anything can happen” DNA during “that” segment with Tiffany Haddish (re Camila, Normani, and Fifth Harmony). While rival Cardi B ironically unleashed the only other gag-worthy moment with her oh so direct indirect (“B*tch!”).
But collectively, none of this was enough. And I can’t even dive into Madonna‘s indulgent “tribute” to Aretha. The second-hand embarrassment is still too much to bear.
In today’s age, it’s sadly become rare for such shows to deliver on a consistent basis and sadly this year’s VMAs fell pancake flat. Onto next year…
MTV did it again.
Stepping into last night’s show I was unsure if the VMAs would be able to top 2016’s brilliant showing without the names it’s called on in the past to bring the heat but, with help from Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Travis Scott and their peers they did.
The highlight for me?
Minaj’s ‘Queen‘ medley. In the past the rapper’s performances on live television have been sloppy (perhaps a symptom of being underrehearsed), but last night saw her showcase how awesome she is when committed to a concept and likes the material she is performing.
Unfortunately, the epic show wasn’t without its faults. The biggest? Madonna. See, I understand why it seemed like a good idea to have her tribute the late Aretha Franklin on paper, but as we can all agree…it wasn’t.
The performers shared little together publicly (and as far as we know) privately, and her decision to celebrate Franklin now seems more like an excuse to pull headline space away from the likes of Jennifer Lopez whose Vanguard performance now finds itself overshadowed.
Although the performance roster didn’t drum much excitement from my end, I must admit this year’s show was better than I was anticipating. “Better” does not mean “good,” it just means better. Standouts included Logic/Ryan Tedder (just because homie was sangin’ his face off), Nicki Minaj (for tapping into the old Nicki we knew and loved), and Ariana Grande (for impressive vocals and at least trying to do something unique).
In Grande’s case, it started off exciting and eventually fizzled – a feature of most of her award show performances. J.Lo’s performance seemed like it would’ve been amazing on paper, but its execution? Not so much. Admittedly, last night was the first time I actually looked at J.Lo as a 50-year-old woman and the first time I remembered she is only a few years younger than Janet because it showed in her moves.
Admittedly, NOTHING about J.Lo’s performance was bad or even lackluster in my opinion (other than how disappointingly short each song was in the megamix), but though she looked some kinda amazing and fierce, her moves just didn’t seem as precise as the Jenny from the Block I remember. Her performance felt rushed.
Elsewhere, buzz worthy moments were Madonna’s completely and unnecessarily self-indulgent tribute to Aretha. Anyone can see it was not a “tribute” in the formal capacity and was put together last minute, but for Madge (whom I love mind you) to have taken so much time to tell a story from her life while tributing ReRe was not only ill, but it was simply distasteful. A real lowlight for the show.
Overall, a C+.
The ceremony was pleasant, nothing more, nothing less. Still, I had fun watching it.
After displaying anything but Queen-like behavior last week, Nicki Minaj redeemed herself yesterday with one of her better showings. That’s how you establish yourself as #Queen, Nick, through undeniable delivery.
It was also a big night for her apparent arch-nemesis, Cardi B. She just oozes “cool” and is deserving of every accolade sent her way – as she said so herself. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for Bardi. It seems rather bright.
Elsewhere, Ariana Grande did a solid job with her performance, Post Malone and his guests 21 Savage + Aerosmith definitely delivered the best performance of the night, shutting down like true rockstars.
Though not a “bad,” J.Lo’s performance left me wanting more: more glam, more visuals, more precision with the choreography. Still, her heartfelt speech made up for it all. Such a well deserved award as she has one of the best videographies in Pop.
When it comes to the winners list, it seems everybody was shown love. So, congrats to all.
Surely I’m not the only person that found Madonna’s tribute self-indulgent and a touch disrespectful. If it was too last minute to get any of the vocal divas to commit to a tribute, asking Janet Jackson or Stevie Wonder to say kind words about the late legend would have been a much better option.
… and last but definitely not least, for a second year in a row, Ms Normani Kordei stole the show – this time not even being present – just for being “that b*tch.”
Salute to Nicki for pointing out that Fifth Harmony was made of FIVE discernible talents. Let’s only hope she can be in attendance and on stage during next year’s festivities to show the world just how great she is. Her bandmates too.
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 2018 MTV VMAs.