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…
2019 MTV VMAs
This year’s VMAs watched like a graduation ceremony, in that it very much felt like the New School stepping up to the plate and cementing their place.
While missing the megawattage of the Beyonce’s, Rihanna’s, and Gaga’s of the world, the show held its own being driven by the fresh faces of todays industry. And none stood out more than Normani.
Easily my most anticipated performance of the night, the Fifth Harmony flamethrower delivered dynamite with her live recreation of the ‘Motivation’ video.
In many ways, she serves as an amalgamation of several icons who came before her; taking the best of what they brought to the game and putting her own unique spin on it. Her performance was an adrenaline ride of killer choreography, powerful presentation, and a seasoned slickness that’s well beyond her 23 years. I envisage this showing making her a staple on the award-show circuit in the months and years ahead.
Elsewhere, Lizzo lit up the stage and re-affirmed why she is such a breath of fresh air. She brings a fun factor that doesn’t compromise her talent – it enhances it. While H.E.R never disappoints and Megan Thee Stallion stung the pre-show with the heat of many a Hot Girl Summer. Again, if these are the newest names of today and tomorrow, exciting times await.
Speaking of excitement, I’d been eagerly awaiting Missy Elliott’s long-overdue Michael Jackson Video Vanguard moment and it delivered in earnest. A whimsical and theatrical masterclass in the magic of Missy, it was a reminder to even the most promising acts of today that there still are levels to this ish. And Missy sits at the top.
This year’s toilet breaks for me came courtesy of Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, the Jonas Brothers, as well as Taylor Swift. Because, while I imagine they did enough to appease their respective audiences, the VMAs have long been about “moments” and theirs struggled to match others on the bill.
Still, holistically, an enjoyable show.
Special salute to Lil Nas X too. I’m still trying to ascertain his angle (Singer? Rapper? Talker?). But he most definitely delivered spectacle and a confidence that many of his more talented contemporaries.
Though it isn’t always obvious, the industry is returning to what I’d call “the age of the superstar” (see Normani, Cardi B, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello) following a drought which may to be blame for some of the VMA’s “drier” years.
As a result, last night’s ceremony was packed with unforgettable moments which I’m sure ticked boxes for all of its viewers.
Highlights? Missy Elliott’s stellar performance and acceptance speech, Normani’s electric delivery of ‘Motivation’, Lil Nas’ futuristic serving of ‘Old Town Road’ and Shawn Mendes’ duet with Camila Cabello. Their chemistry was palpable.
Any criticism? None of this end. For, this year’s organisers did great job at spotlighting the year’s biggest and brightest stars which is why I’m hoping its ratings reflect their effort.
Here’s hoping next year is just as awesome…and that security does a better job at keeping crazed fans away from the talent.
On a random note, anyone else see that guy harassing Lil Nas X? Wild.
From where I stood the show would’ve been better billed as the “VMAs: Black Girl Magic Edition” as black girls rocked all up and through that show from its beginning (Megan Thee Stallion) until its close.
First, giving honor to Missy who was the head of the night, the Rap diva reminded a whole generation of us who grew up with her why she was our generation’s preeminent visual artist. Bringing to life on stage some of her most iconic videos during her Vanguard performance, my only gripes were a) there was so much of a spectacle that sometimes the viewer lost Missy in the action and b) the likes of ‘Hot Boys’ and ‘All in My Grill’ were not included in the set list. Their absences, however, by no means took away from her epic performance and it’s so good to see Miss get her roses!
Next, Normani – despite the devil in the sound booth trying to sabotage her debut VMA performance – popped, locked, and dropped her way through the difficulty to deliver an inaugural showing that certainly met the hype! Again, in the spirit of fairness however, I couldn’t help but be jarred by how much her physical energy was not matched by her vocal energy. I’m hoping this is not a consistent feature of her live performances and that – even with pre-records given the intensity of her movement – she masters matching her vocals to the moment.
And, lastly (among our girls), Lizzo shut it all the way down and almost took us to church by the end of her booty-ful performance. Elsewhere, Camila was a bore, Taylor was cute but quite the snore, and – to my surprise – Miley left me wanting more. It’s sad her vocal prowess continues to be outshone by her image for, quiet as it’s kept, the girl has chops (as evidenced by last night’s performance). Lil Nas X’s grand performance could and should’ve been one of the biggest of the night, but the forced and uncomfortable choreo took away from it.
All-in-all this year’s show was arguably the best it’s seen in years. The staging – although distracting and unnecessarily busy at times – was still amazing. Now that I think about it, the last time the VMAs was worthy of this much praise was…well..when Black Girls rocked it in 2016!
The new generation showed up and showed out!
Rosalia killed, H.E.R. slayed, and Lizzo took us to church.
Although it was intelligent for Lil Nas X to plug his single ‘Panini,’ I wished he would have given us the ultimate ´Old Town Road’ performance and be done with it. From my vantage point, he just missed on a true VMA “moment.” Still, he gets an “A” for the effort that was put into his Power Ranger-flavored performance. Come through choreography!
Franky, can somebody help me figure out what that Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s performance was all about? Not only was it seemingly leading to a kiss that never occurred, but in hindsight not much else actually…happened. So much for the #1 song in the world…
Missy Elliott and her troop of dancers did a fantastic job reminding the audience of her multi decade-spanning brilliance and gave a stellar speech.
Old pals Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers did fine with their respective showings. It was cool seeing that they are still as hype as they were when they were the newcomers a decade or so ago.
Without much surprise, the homerun of the evening was scored by the amazing Normani.
After breaking the internet with her energetic video for breakthrough single ‘Motivation’, she was a repeat offender when she took the stage and delivered a unique mixture of vocals, choreography and gymnastics, leaving the audience AND Twitter alike completely floored.
The birth of a star, indeed.
Nothing too controversial nor unexpected regarding the winners list, I just wished Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande were present to receive her awards as they have been the undeniable leading pop ladies of the year so far.
Overall, a fun-filled, vibrant and youth driven show. I had fun.
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 2019 MTV VMAs.