Vicarious Music & Media

MTV’s Desperate Video Music Awards

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“Even though it’s been years since the channel has shown the videos it honors, the MTV Video Music Awards persist. This year’s top nominees, announced today, are Beyonce and Justin Timberlake with seven apiece, followed by Kanye West and Rihanna with five, and Amy Winehouse with three.

MTV typically waits until the very last second to find/announce a host for its signature awards show, but thus far West, Winehouse, Rihanna, Fall Out Boy, Lily Allen, Chris Brown and Foo Fighters are committed to perform, with more acts to be announced soon.

In at least a nod to the fact that MTV is no longer really a music video network, a few new categories have been added to the show. Male and Female artist of the year recognize an artist’s complete body of work in 2007, while Monster Single of the Year and Quadruple Threat award (honoring “those boundary-busting artists who have conquered multiple worlds including, but not limited to; music, fashion, philanthropy, business, acting and dance”) give the network’s bookers latitude to honor celebrities who haven’t had much of a video presence, but who might bring in some ratings.

If that seems slightly desperate, it is. For years, the Video Music Awards were MTV’s highest-rated programming event. Launched in 1984, with Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler hosting, the ceremony was a remarkably fresh and satirical take on dull old awards shows. Because its premise was that the awards themselves were a joke — statuettes went to bands for videos in which they often didn’t appear, let alone direct — celebrities were looser and more spontaneous, and so was the show.”

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