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‘Not worth watching live’: A review of the VMAs

| Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Ethan Chiang | The Observer

The VMAs began with some questionable fashion statements on the pink carpet. Saweetie stood out in a pink dress with a bone attached to it, giving credit to the prehistoric origins of fashion (literal cavemen). Doja Cat looked like she was wearing spider webs. Nicki Minaj looked great in a Dolce & Gabbana dress, but it needed a little more material to live up to its potential. The men were dressed in their usual suits. Although some wore platform shoes to invigorate their simple attire, the fashion overall was lackluster.

Thankfully, the performances on the stage were more outstanding than the fashion on the pink carpet. With so many big names performing like Shakira, Nicki Minaj and Olivia Rodrigo, the show was expected to be great. Many of them were — even the performances on the small stage. My two favorite performances were Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s duet and Shakira.

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B performed “Bongos” better than I thought they would. They came with more choreography and energy than their previous performance at the 2021 Grammys. Cardi B did miss a few beats, but the overall performance was good, and they got me to rethink my opinion of their new song.

Shakira won the Video Vanguard Award, which was well-deserved, and she proved it in her performance. I had high expectations for her, and she delivered. She looked great, sounded amazing and her presence filled the whole stage, showing just how diverse her music catalog is.

The VMAs also celebrated 50 years of hip-hop, but the tribute performance was messy. The artists individually are good, but their performances did not mix well together. There were a lot of artists that represented old hip-hop, and I don’t think the crowd really understood who any of them were. The transition from old hip-hop to Nicki Minaj was jarring, but her performance made the tribute. The performance was inadequate, and I did not appreciate the fact that the only female hip-hop artist on stage was Nicki Minaj. There are other female rappers that came before her and who played a part in the formation of hip-hop who were not included.

There were also a few performances from international artists like Karol G, Stray Kids, Peso Pluma, Anitta and more. All their performances were great — they made their presence known, and they showcased their culture in a good light. There were some other good performances like kaii, The Warning, Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter. They all had fun with their acts and seemed to be having fun at the award show itself.

The VMAs altogether was fun. It is not an award show held in high regard, and I think it has been able to hold its entertainment value because of such. It feels like a show where artists can come, showcase their creativity and just have fun with their art. The award ceremony aspect of the show was uneventful because there is no surprise to who the winner is. Despite all the great performances, you can watch your favorite artists’ performances on MTV’s YouTube channel — it was not worth watching live.

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