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Scripted events, performers doom Video Music Awards

Broderick Henry | Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Although hurricane Katrina and the shooting of notorious rap label head Suge Knight did their best to thwart the 22nd MTV Video Music Awards, the show was nevertheless broadcast live from Miami Sunday. For the second year in a row, American Airlines Arena played host to some of the largest acts in music, television and film.

Over the years, the live production has come to be less about honoring outstanding music videos from the previous year and much more about celebrity, fashion and fabricated “surprise moments.” In fact, it is the surprise moments that have made the show most memorable.

On this night, the surprise moments were few and far between. It appears the people in charge over at MTV made sure that the show went on without a hitch.

The orchestrated pageantry for artist arrivals provided viewers a glimpse of what was to come. Stars like Orlando Bloom, Usher, Alicia Keys and Lil Jon arrived in yachts and pimped-out rides that the artists did not actually own.

Solely because it was MTV, a white, rather than red, carpet greeted celebrities who posed for photographers, conducted interviews and mingled with fans.

The award show began rather awkwardly with a performance by Green Day from their latest CD, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Green Day, the big winners for the night, would go on to collect seven awards for the song’s music video, including Video of the Year, Viewer’s Choice and Best Rock Video.

Master of ceremonies for the evening was super mogul and self-aggrandizer, Diddy. True to form, Diddy did not disappoint. He was his usual conceited, flamboyant self. The fact that the three and a half hour show seemed like a commemoration of Diddy should have been no surprise to viewers.

Combs’ indulgences consisted of nine outfit changes, a dance off with R&B impresario Omarion, conducting an orchestra to Notorious B.I.G hits, giving a fan a Jacob the Jeweler watch and a $100,000 award for the best dressed male and female superstars.

The suits at MTV did away with the customary awards show monologue and supplied clips of Beavis and Butthead for comedy relief. The two animated characters were not amusing ten years ago, and they definitely were not amusing on this night.

Performers were all over the place when the time came to actually entertain viewers.

Shakira sung her nominated hit “La Totura” in Spanish, a VMA first, and reminded men and women alike why they love her so much.

Ludacris, accompanied by Bobby Valentino and dancers armed with moves from cultures the world over, performed “Pimpin All Over the World.” He lived up to his billing as the most versatile rapper in the game with his extravagant performance.

R. Kelly decided acting out “Trapped in a Closet” sans a microphone or actual supporting actors would be compelling. Viewers are probably still asking themselves about the latest chapter in the life and times of Rufus, Kathy and Chuck.

“Gold Digger,” the Ray Charles-inspired hit by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx was palatable. Foxx seems to be basking in the glory of his recent Oscar win a little too much though.

Yet the most eyebrow-raising performances of the night have to go to Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson. Carey, who continues to be promoted as one of the top-selling female artists of all time, appeared to be more like a teen pop tart. While performing an out-of-tune medley of her hits “We Belong Together” and “Shake it Off,” she showed more skin than a dancer at a strip club.

Kelly Clarkson was the evening’s final performer. The American Idol winner decided that since her microphone was not to her liking, she would scream, yell and kick her way through her hit “Since U Been Gone.” Clarkson never found the right key, and as rain poured from the arena’s ceiling onto Clarkson and fans, viewers at home got the picture. She was dreadful, and the night was a total wash.