A celebrity beef squashed while another was allegedly started. A host spewing many expletives but for most of the show, not wearing nearly as many articles of clothing. A crying pop star. A presidential campaign announced.
And in between, a few solid performances and a couple of awards.
The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards contained a bit of everything Sunday night. Live from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the network’s flagship broadcast set Twitter ablaze and caused more of a dumpster fire when the ratings came out.
Perhaps a large chunk of the decline in viewership can be attributed to the host. No one knew what to expect from Miley Cyrus, and afterwards the correct response would have been “not much.” There is a certain ebb-and-flow to hosting live television and it is a skill that doesn’t come easy to many; thus the reason why a guy like Seacrest gets paid so much to do it.
The VMAs averaged about five million viewers on MTV according to Nielsen, down 39 percent from last year.
But offer credit where it is deserved: Sunday night’s VMAs set a U.S. Twitter record for a non-sports TV broadcast with 2.2 million people generating over 21 million tweets. That can probably also be attributed to Cyrus, who surprised everyone by closing out the show and releasing an album online for free at its conclusion.
Oh, and the awards. Taylor Swift took home four, including Video Of The Year for the cameo-filled “Bad Blood” featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar. Of course Swift showed up with her “squad” in tow, including model Karlie Kloss and fellow singer Selena Gomez.
An outdoor stage set-up downtown provided some of the best musical moments of the night – Macklemore offered up a theatrical rendition of his new single “Downtown,” Demi Lovato received some assistance from surprise guest Iggy Azalea on “Cool For The Summer,” and Pharrell Williams struck a vastly different tone than most of the show with his performance of “Freedom.”
Inside, Justin Bieber returned to the VMA stage. The 21 year-old performed a medley of “Where Are U Now” and his latest single, “What Do You Mean?” Following the performance, Bieber was seen visibly weeping on stage. Reaction seemed to be generally positive, especially considering what has happened in the five years since he last performed at the VMAs.
Kanye West was there and relatively speaking was well behaved. MTV bestowed upon West the Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement, and rightfully so. But of course, it did not come without spectacle: Once-foe-now-friend Swift presented him to the stage and West followed with a rambling speech in which he both trashed award shows and admitted he had smoked weed beforehand.
He finished the rant by announcing that in 2020 he would seek the Oval Office. Then, he dropped the mic. Not surprising and certainly fitting.