MTV VMAs 2011: Best and Worst Moments

Young, old, and fetal played a part in the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. A troupe of trussed-up tots paid disturbing tribute to Britney Spears’ pelvi-centric dance moves. Oscar- and Emmy-winning octogenarian Cloris Leachman was reduced to sharing the stage with the ladies of Jersey Shore*. And a surprisingly covered-up Beyoncé signaled she was carrying a bun in the oven at the end of her cute, retro performance of “Love on Top.” (*Tell me I wasn’t the only one whose brain refused to acknowledge atrociously outfitted Rainbow Deena until a squawk emerged from her mouth.)

Amidst the two-and-a-half-hour telecast to honor music videos not typically played on a channel that used to do nothing but play music videos were both genuine highlights and nosedives into atonal ridiculata. So without further ado, let’s count down the best, the worst, and the winners’ list.

1) Adele’s “Someone Like You”: On a night where plenty of dough was spent on backing tracks and backup dancers, Adele proved that sometimes there’s nothing more powerful or heartbreaking than a stellar vocalist standing in front of a piano and singing her guts out. In a word: Sublime.

2) Lady Gaga’s “You and I”: Justin Bieber looked like he was in a state of shock as Gaga, in performance-art man-drag that was one part Ray Romano and one part The Fonz, opened the show with a rambling monologue about the emotional limitations of “his” superstar lover. But by the time she took to the piano to deliver her latest hit ballad (accompanied by Queen’s Brian May), Gaga reminded us that her musical chops deserve our total attention — regardless of whether or not you wished the whole “Jo Calderone” shtick had been retired 15 minutes into the telecast.

3) Young the Giant “My Body”: Not even the worst camera work in recent live television history could distract from the fact that the California quintet delivered the evening’s liveliest, hardest-rocking set (eke-ing out Kanye West and Jay Z’s “Otis” by a nose).

1) Lil Wayne’s “performance”: Why bother rolling out a song for a national TV audience when two out of every three words get dropped by network censors? As Lil Wayne stalked the stage shirtless, his droopy black-and-white leopard leggings giving us an unfortunate glimpse of blue boxer-briefs, the resulting audio feed sounded like a badly tuned radio station on an interminable road trip to hell. In my mind, I’m still trying to unlock the door and hurl my body onto the fiery blacktop.

2) Katy Perry, trying too hard. As usual.

3) Chris Brown Medley: Didn’t atrocious lipsyncing go the way of Ashlee Simpson’s acting career? If so, then how come Chris Brown kept moving his mouth out of time with the clearly piped-in sounds of “Yeah 3X” and “Beautiful People”? Surely, his wonky “running man” variation and addition of trampoline dancers didn’t justify dragging Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Wu Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck” into the debacle?

Special Bonus Irony: Tyler, the Creator, ending his Best New Artist award speech with these words of inspiration: “To all the kids watching, you can do this [bleep] self [bleep] be [bleep] them golf white.”

Trophies Handed Out During the Telecast
Best Pop Video: Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends”
Best Rock Video: Foo Fighters’ “Walk”
Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”
Best Collaboration: Katy Perry and Kanye West’s “E.T.”
Best Male Video: Justin Bieber’s “U Smile”
Best New Artist: Tyler, the Creator
Best Female Video: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”
Video of the Year: Katy Perry’s “Firework”

What did you think of the 2011 VMAs? Any best or worst moments that I missed? Sound off below, and for all my TV commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. neil says:

    if you give someone the “prestigious” Vanguard award….shouldn’t you give them a chance to give a speech??? Epic Fail MTV.

    • Anthony says:

      It was scripted. Britney’s team never gives Britney a lot of time to talk because she’s practically dead inside.

  2. ladyhelix says:

    I tuned in to see Mark dance… so I’m happy.

    And kudos to the artists who sang live (rather than lip syncing).

  3. C says:

    HATE, HATE, HATED lady (if you can still call her that) gaga. That wasn’t just different (or weird) like she usually is, that was just plain creepy. I like her songs but that performance was absolutely terrible. I wish she would just sing and be a genuine person. I also think Katy perry is a great performer, I’ve seen her in concert and think that she puts on a fabulous show. She might dress a little over the top sometimes but at least she doesn’t come dressed as a man smoking cigarettes and drinking. (really great role model gaga). And to comment about Bruno mars, I think he did a great job with Valerie/paying tribute to Amy whinehouse. He has a beautiful voice and did a splendid job

    • Anthony says:

      And Katy’s a good role model? Making fun of transgendered people on Twitter? Exploiting the gay community? Calling her fans “brats”… Right.

  4. Shiloh says:

    Just gotta say: I totally agree about Adele. She’s the Judy or Barbra of our age.

  5. Damnitsvan says:

    Lady Gaga was weak, uninspired and just a plain waste of time… I thought her falling was unfortunate and not funny, but it happens and still her performance sucked.

    Adele and Beyonce were great performances! I thought the baby bump thing was great. She seemed very happy I just worry for the child’s wardrobe… Rocawear and Dereon are not what I call “in”.

    Katy Perry is a great talent, she’s fun, unapologetic and is very clear she doesn’t feel she is reinventing the wheel (a la lady gaga).

    Why was Katie Holmes there? Can someone explain to me why she was there?

    VMA’s were a bust, boring and yet again in need of music.

    • Anthony says:

      Anyone who praises Katy Perry and disses Lady Gaga has absolutely no grip on what talent is. The only reason Katy dressed like that was because of Gaga

  6. Anthony says:

    I love that Gaga stayed in character the entire time. Her contemporaries were doing everything they could to try and upstage her and she shows up as a totally different person. It was genius how she completely, yet again, one-upped her “competition”.

  7. anjali says:

    when is mtv music awards show going to be shown on television in the channel vh1 india

  8. Q says:

    Tyler said Golf Wang (A shoutout to Odd Future Wolf Gang), not Golf White