TGJ Roundtable: 2018 MTV Video Music Awards Review

Published: Tuesday 21st Aug 2018 by Sam

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.

Your thoughts?

[Photo credit: Getty]

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  1. Gee August 21, 2018

    The show was definitely lackluster and honestly all award shows nowadays suffer from this.

    • Vaughn August 21, 2018

      Yea this was EXEPTIONALLY BAD with its D list performers and unknown artists poking out of everwhere! It was just SAD lol

  2. Whoops ???‍♀️?? August 21, 2018

    It was boring. They only gave Jlo best collab so that her vanguard award (which was also given to her, not earned) wasn’t the only thing she walked away with last night. Madonna is a mess and a half. Ariana seriously does not have the gift of a naturally captivating presence about her like all the great performers do but at least she tried. She didn’t stand

    • Whoops ???‍♀️?? August 21, 2018

      …out from her dancers. She doesn’t have that fire.

      • Paulo August 21, 2018

        She did stand out to me as worst dressed on her set lol but her vocals were lit

      • Whoops ???‍♀️?? August 21, 2018

        Yeah true, her vocals were good. She needs to work on her image though. From her look to her attitude. I don’t find her star presence to be convincing yet. Like how Beyoncé literally stands on stage and can stare at her audience or pause her music and walk across the stage and they’ll cheer. Ariana doesn’t emit that kind of

      • Whoops ???‍♀️?? August 21, 2018


        Ugh. I keep accidentally pressing submit before I finish typing my comments. ?

  3. Section8DaGreat August 21, 2018


  4. Molly August 21, 2018

    How the f*** did Jho get a vanguard…..

  5. MessyBoots August 21, 2018

    So much font and yet nothing else can be said except BORING FLOP.

    But perhaps Rolling Stone said it best in their review..

    “There was something poignant about MTV’s big question this year: How the hell can we keep people from noticing the Video Music Awards? Most years the VMAs bash is a surreal tour of pop culture’s dizzy highs and comic lows. But last night was pretty far from any kind of show. No stars. No fun. Pure flop sweat. The VMAs’ ratings have slipped violently in the past few years, and there are plenty of theories why, but MTV’s disdainful distance from music culture these days makes it the wrong network to be throwing itself a party. And wow, this really just isn’t a show. It felt barely noticed even by those who bothered to tune in.”

  6. Paulo August 21, 2018

    For you to pick on JLo yet say Ryan Strain Tedder “sang his face off” or that Post Mayonnaise with Steven Tyler’s worst vocals was the best of the night………. Lord have mercy.

    Ariana and JLo were the best performances. Cardi’s shade and overall presence were the highlights tho.

    Madonna…. I can’t even…

  7. Ariel August 21, 2018

    I was very much impressed by Ariana. Her performance was gorgeous and the choreography was unexpected and seductive. This was the FIRST TIME where I saw her as a “star” — similar to when Rihanna performed Umbrella at the 2007’s MTV movie awards and Britney’s Oops I did It Again at the 2000 VMAS–true game changer moments for their careers.
    Though Ariana’s album falls as flat as her ass sans Borderline and Breathin, I hope she gets back in the studio soon to record a stronger followup.

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