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Ten Huge Mistakes That Almost Ruined The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards
If you ever dreamed of working for MTV, then perhaps this is the time to apply for a job. As of August 25 there must have been several pink slips handed out. With live television you do expect a mistake or two. But not boneheaded unavoidable mistakes. And this year's VMAs had doozies. How about screwing up not one, but two promotional stunts from their sponsors? How about nearly giving MTV it's second FCC infraction for having a wardrobe malfunction on live national television? The broadcast of the MTV Video Music Awards and it's red carpet pre show was filled with mistakes that should never have happened. These are the top ten.
#1 Nicki Minaj Ignored
The whole point of even having a televised Red Carpet pre-show its to interview the celebrities appearing on the award show. Nicki Minaj was the first to reach the red carpet, and had apparently timed it out so that she would be passing the MTV hosts just as the pre-show began airing. In other words, she was looking to be the first interview. But it was not to be. Nicki walked pass all the MTV News reporters covering the event and not one of them interviewed her. Why? Because MTV decided the first interview would be with the cast of their show Teen Wolf. So for the first two minutes Sway Calloway had a lively conversation with the cast which was nothing more than a promo for the upcoming season, which included a clip from the season premiere. Meanwhile Nicki walked right past Sway as if she wasn't even there. If Sway missed Miss Minaj, what about the backup reporters? Nope. Because one of the reporters was actress Lucy Hale who had to talk about herself for another minute, followed by a staged stunt with Jason Derulo where they attempted to make the crowd do the wave. Meanwhile Nicki and her entourage sauntered past and were once again ignored. There is no good excuse for MTV to miss an interview with one of Americas biggest recording artists, and even less of an excuse to miss an interview with a recording artists who was opening the award show. Whatever MTV had planned for the first five minutes of the red carpet pre-show should have been postponed until someone at least said hello.
#2 Iggy Can't Hear You
One of the staged stunts MTV had planned for the red carpet was with sponsor YouNow.com where members on the site contributed video questions for Iggy Azalea. The problem was that neither Sway nor Iggy could hear the questions. Sway had the questions on a card, but they were different than the ones the YouNow members had asked on video. Okay, they knew there would be a screaming crowd, and the red carpet was right next to the airport. So nobody thought of turning the speakers up loud enough for the questions to be heard?
#3 Usher Who???
They say that fame is fleeting. You could be a huge celebrity today and forgotten tomorrow. This is not true. You may lose interest in a celebrity, you may even need to be reminded of a celebrity, but no one really forgets a celebrity. But there is a strange phenomenon that does happen. Someone who is popular to one generation may not be well known to another generation. Beyonce may be the queen of pop music today, but there are millions of children who do not listen to Beyonce. And in ten years, those same children will be teenagers. No other place is this more obvious than at the VMAs red carpet. Most of the people in that cheering crowd are teenagers. And most of them are not fans of the older recording stars. Perhaps MTV should have thought of this before the embarrassed Usher during one of their stunts. Sway claimed he was supposed to interview Usher, but could not find him. That is when Usher showed up on the bleacher among the cheering crowd holding a microphone. They were suppose to be thrilled and surprised to find a celebrity among them. But instead the teenagers on the bleachers either did not know who Usher was, or did not care. They paid little attention to him as they continued to call out to the current crop of pop stars on the carpet. Even after Sway pointed Usher out, they continued to ignore him. The teenagers on the bleachers may have been too young for even Justin Bieber, let alone a recording artist who began having his first hit records when they were still in diapers. Before MTV pulled this stunt, they should have gauged which celebrity the crowd would recognize, instead of embarrassing a recording artist who did not deserve to be embarrassed.
#4 The Greatest Stunt We Never Saw
Well, maybe not the greatest stunt. But never-the-less a stunt. In fact, this was another cross promotion with a sponsor that MTV screwed up. For the past month contestants were suppose to go onto MTVs twitter account and dare Austin to do something crazy on the red carpet. A winner would be selected, and we would find out what dare Austin picked on the red carpet. This was to tie into 5 Gum's ongoing Truth or Dare promotion. The problem was, we never got to see that dare. Instead of the red carpet, we saw the inside of the auditorium for 30 seconds with no audio. Then for another 21 seconds we still saw the inside of the auditorium, but got the audio fro the red carpet where Sway and the other reporters were making cryptic comments about how wild Austin's arrival was. Something about a bus, and the sound of a marching band in the background. When we finally got video from the red carpet, Austin had finished whatever dare he had done and was already on the interview platform.
#5 Trapped In A Rocket
You would think with a bunch of boneheaded mistakes on the red carpet, MTV would have gotten the kinks out by the time the main show arrived. But in less than ten minutes they made three of the biggest blunders of the evening all in a row. The first may not have been noticed by the viewer, but someone forgot to press the button that opened the door to the prop rocked Ariana Grande was standing in. According to Grande, the door remained closed and she remained trapped inside for six seconds before someone realized their mistake. Fortunately Grande is such a polished professional that she began singing the song while waiting for the door to open, and although now off her dance routine by six seconds, was able to catch up with no one noticing. But it could have been worse. Most singers would have missed their cue and been thrown off for the entire performance.
#6 Nicki Minaj's Wardrobe Malfunction
This happened during the same opening number. For some unexplained reason MTV gave Nicki Minaj only 40 seconds to change costumes, and it was not enough time. The people in charge of removing the green dress and pulling on her tight black dress did not have enough time to zip it up. So out on stage Nicki went, holding the dress shut, desperately trying to keep her private parts from being public on live national television. And here is what is even more unbelievable about this mistake. During the dress rehearsal MTV realized Minaj did not have enough time to make the costume change. On several tries Minaj's team were not able to zip the dress up before it was time for Nicki to sing again. So did MTV do something smart, like give Nicki another 30 seconds to change by allowing Jessie J to sing one of her solo hits? Nope. The opening number went as originally arranged, and near disaster ensued.
#7 Taylor Won
No sooner did the opening number fiasco end, that MTV made yet another blunder. The first presenters were Snoop Dog and Gwen Stefani, and during their scripted banter a third voice could be heard. Someone saying something that sounded like "Taylor Won" over and over again, along with a few other vocal noises. Some assumed that someone gave away that Taylor Swift had won one of the awards, perhaps in the category Snoop and Gwen were introducing, "Best Female Video". Those who knew that Taylor Swift had not been nominated for any video that year assumed someone was protesting. And others who noticed the voice sounded a lot like Snoop Dog assumed it may have been a planned stunt gone wrong. But the truth, someone decided to test the performance microphones during the broadcast, and someone else left the feed to the performance microphones open after the opening act. The voice was saying "Taylor One", meaning they were testing the microphone Taylor Swift was to use during her performance. Why they could not test the equipment before the broadcast still remains a mystery.
#8 Too Much Fog
Perhaps the least of the screw-ups that night, but still something that should not have happened. And perhaps something you would never have noticed. But at the end of Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora's performance of "Black Widow" Iggy was enveloped in thick fog. So much that you could no longer see her. Maybe we are just talking about a few seconds of Iggy crouching on the floor, but those few seconds we were suppose to see. The fog was suppose to be a foot high as it rolled across the stage. But somewhere during the second verse, someone turned the fog up. Fortunately Iggy and Rita were nowhere near it, but half of the backup dancers disappeared. At this point someone should have turned that fog machine off. But instead, a huge fog cloud developed on the platform Iggy was to end her performance on. And it only grew bigger as she finished her performance. It could have been worse. Had Rita and Iggy's choreographed routine had them singing further back instead of above the audience, they would have been as invisible as the backup dancers.
#9 What Cam?
If you are going to enlist the participation of celebrities in the audience for a stunt, it is probably a good idea to make sure they have rehearsed their parts rather than enlist them at the last minute. The stunt here was based on the Kiss-Cam you see at sporting events. The ones between innings or during time outs. A graphic on the big screen announces Kiss Cam, followed by the POV of a camera that is scanning the bleachers, then stopping and closing in on a couple who are compelled to kiss. For the VMA's presenter Jimmy Fallon introduced a Hug-Cam, followed by a High-Five-Cam and a Give-The-Person-Next-To-You-$5-Cam. There is no doubt that the audience members the cam settled on were coached to react in advance. The problem was they was adequately instructed. The Hug-Cam settled on Katy Perry and her date, but instead of hugging they were in the midst of taking a selfie. The High-Five-Cam settled on Taylor Swift and her newest BFF Lorde who at least executed a clumsy low-five. But then came the Give The-Person-Next-To-You-$5-Cam which settled on Kim Kardashion sitting in her seat, holding a $5 bill, seemingly oblivious as to what to do next. It was only after Jimmy further prompted her by saying "No one is giving five dollars?" that she finally passed the bill over. For this bit to have worked, not only should the participants knew exactly what to do and what their cues were, but should also have been rehearsed enough that looked convincing. ( Really? Kim just happened to be holding a $5 bill aloft? ).But that is what you get when a producer thinks you could just ask a celebrity to do something five minutes before the show starts and expect them to remember exactly what they were suppose to do nearly two hours later.
#10 It's Over????
The VMAs were scheduled to run for 2 and a half hours. Not that MTV actually expected the show to run that long. Unlike the Oscars and other award shows that attempt to end on time by cutting short acceptance speeches, for years MTV had an intelligent solution to the problem of a live event running overtime. They would schedule a post-show after the award show ended. If the award show ended 10 minutes late, then the post show lost 10 minutes. If the award show ended 15 minutes late, then the post show would lose 15 minutes. On one occasion the award show ran so long that the post show was no more than the hosts saying hello and goodbye. It was the next day that MTV edited the award show down to a 2 hour running time for future broadcasts. This years VMAs were pre-scheduled to run for 3 hours, presumably including the post-show. So why did someone at MTV decide at the last minute to cut it short by 45 minutes? That's right, the award show ended abruptly at exactly 2 hours 15 minutes, inevitably leaving MTV with an unscheduled 90 minute hole to fill once the rebroadcast finished airing. The mysterious absence of the post show was not the only problem. To get the show to end at exactly 2h15min, stuff needed to be cut. Everyone knew that Beyonce was to close the show with a 20 minute performance. But it was to coincide with her receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. But no one presented it. Instead of a presenter introducing Beyonce along with a montage of her past videos, her performance began without any introduction whatsoever. Had her husband and baby not presented her with the award after her set ended, we would not even have known she had won. And even more awkward, as soon as her brief speech ended, and as she was walking off the stage with her family, the show's production logo poped up and it ended. No one to announce the show had ended and thank all the participants, as customary. And not one ending credit. The VMAs are pretty much the only event left at MTV anyone still pays attention to. Otherwise the channel is indistinguishable from all the other channels with cheap reality programming. Rushing their biggest show of the year to an ending when they did not need to was not very smart, and nearly obliterated the best moment in the entire show.
TWO DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
There were a lot more gaffs made during the broadcast, such as presenters who could barely be heard and the wrong music beds playing, but the list above is in my opinion the top ten mistakes. There are, however, two others I was tempted to add to the list. The problem was, they were not production mistakes. Bad decisions, yes, but never the less things that were planned well in advance.
First was Lorde winning Best Rock Video for Royals. There were four things wrong with this. First of all, Royals is not a rock song. Second, Lorde is not a rock artist. Or at least has never released a rock song to date. Currently all her music is electropop. The third is that among the videos she competed against, Royals was by no means the best. It was not visually the best, and by no means anywhere near the best rock performance. And fourth, Royals is not even the best video Lorde released this year. Typically record labels do not spend that much money on a new artists debut video. But once Royals became a worldwide hit, her next videos got hefty budgets. Royals was a forgettable video. Tennis Court and Team, both released to MTV after Royals, were far better videos. Even more ridiculous, the video that MTV said was better than any rock video released this year did not even win Best Female Video. MTV has always claimed their nominations and winning results come from independent voters among the recording and media industries. However, I have always had the nagging feeling that the nominations and eventual winners are picked in an MTV board room. The decisions made to award the artists who did the most for MTV, and to deliberately add a little controversy. Whatever the reason, there was no excuse for Royals to be allowed to be nominated in that category, let alone independent voters all agreeing that it was a better rock video than actual rock videos.
The other was that awkward nothing tribute to Robin Williams. To be honest, MTV had no business running a Robin Williams tribute during their video awards show. The closest he ever came to being a recording star was his appearance in the 80s music video "Don't Worry, Be Happy". There was no call for MTV to acknowledge his passing at all. A tribute to Maya Angelou would have made as much sense. And while no major pop stars had died in the past year, if MTV still felt they needed a tribute of some kind during their broadcast, there was Casey Kasem, who popularized music videos before MTV was around, and the last surviving Ramone, Tommy Ramone.Neither were mentioned during the broadcast. I suspect that the decision to include a tribute was due to the publicity the Emmy Awards ( scheduled to air the next night ) were getting for the announcement that they would be tributing Williams during their broadcast. Some misguided person at MTV decided they needed their own tribute. But for the love of God, if you decide to tribute someone, then give them a decent tribute rather than what aired during the VMAs. It happened right after Fifth Harmony's acceptance speech for the "Artist To Watch" award. As the laughing girls were walking from the stage, Coldplay's "A Sky Full Of Stars" began to play while some pictures of Robin Williams flashed before the screen for about twenty seconds. No presenter took to the stage to announce the memorial. No one to say what a great person he was. No testimonial from any fellow comedians. Not even as much as the caption "1951 - 2014". If you had not known that Williams had died earlier than month, then you would not have had any idea what the tribute was about. Basically, it was shoddily done. Something some producer threw together at the last minute.