Tag Archives: VMAs

Two Things: One Disturbing, One Puzzling

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis*

Last week the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released a report titled “Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for 2021.” To calculate how things are going for those of us who are, well, living, “Provisional life expectancy estimates were calculated using complete period life tables based on provisional death counts for 2021 from death records received and processed by NCHS as of April 24, 2022; provisional numbers of births for the same period based on birth records received and processed by NCHS as of May 3, 2022; and July 1, 2021, postcensal population estimates based on the 2010 decennial census.”

The results are not good. “U.S. life expectancy at birth for 2021, based on nearly final data, was 76.1 years, the lowest it has been since 1996. Male life expectancy (73.2) and female life expectancy (79.1) also declined to levels not seen since 1996.”

1996 was the year that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson. Chris Isaak appeared on Friends. Garth Brooks refused his American Music Award for Favorite Overall Artist because he said music is produced by a collective of people, not individuals (something that has only increased geometrically but which seems to be something not talked about). Snoop Dogg was acquitted of first-degree murder, but the voluntary manslaughter charge led to a jury deadlock and consequent mistrial. Alanis Morissette received Album of the Year Grammy for Jagged Little Pill. Phil Collins announced he was leaving Genesis. Sammy Hagar left Van Halen in June and in September the band appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards (we’re going to be getting to that) with David Lee Roth. Kiss reunited and kicked off a tour at Tiger Stadium (which the Tigers exited in 1999). The Spice Girls released “Wannabe,” their debut single. Tupac died. Eminem released his debut album.

Yes, the life expectancy today is what it was back then.

And back then seem quite back then.

Continue reading Two Things: One Disturbing, One Puzzling

Crunk in Public: The 2004 MTV Video Music Awards

What do these guys have to do with 2004 music videos?Apparently New York City isn’t big enough for both MTV and the RNC. Ceding Manhattan to the invading army of potato-headed donkey punchers, the network moved its annual Video Music Awards promotional event to Miami’s American Airlines Arena. The move made sense logistically, even if the Page Six stories of hotel bar meetings between, say, Petey Pablo and Senator Sam Brownback would’ve been hilarious. But it was also a reminder of how far south the popular music axis has shifted. Crunk dominated this year’s VMAs from the window to the wall, Outkast continued to clean up (deservedly) for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and rock music was viewed only as a nuisance, represented by performances from a few tepid middlers, but best consumed in condensed form. See KRAVITZ, Lenny.

Continue reading Crunk in Public: The 2004 MTV Video Music Awards

The White Mouse Has Escaped!

Easy easy cheap cheap cheap...History and Revisionist Reality at the 2003 VMAs

What’s that flinty taste in our mouth? Why, it’s the unforgiving barrel of the Mossberg 12 gauge jammed between our teeth. The shooter’s face is distorted – garish, hyper-real images flicker unabated eighteen inches away, just above the chamber. Bursts of red, washed-out orange, and otherworldly, shimmering gray reflect in blue steel; frames fly by faster and faster, each one unique, yet oddly, opaquely the same. Is this our life flashing before our eyes? Can’t be. We were never voted off anything. What was that shot? A rose on a tray, women wiping tears from their hardened eyes? That never happened to us. What’s P. Diddy saying? Wait, we don’t even KNOW P. Diddy! Then the images falter, fade to black. And we see it. A thin fiber optic cable leads from the Mossberg’s double action trigger to a frosted glass office door marked ‘Reality Television – New Season.’ The wire terminates in the keyhole of a silver knob. And that knob is turning.

Continue reading The White Mouse Has Escaped!


The VMAs represent everything I’ve come to hate about what currently passes for “pop” as well as the baldfaced commercialism of… well… everything – that this site so vigilantly follows. I don’t remember exactly when I stopped watching the VMAs but it was at least four or five years ago.

Posted by: Joshua on September 9, 2001 04:36 PM

Perhaps the problem with the VMAs is one that MTV has helped contribute to: In its 20 years it has taken music and turned it into “product” in a way that is unlike it had ever had been before. Consequently, it is all about the Next Thing. Churn, churn, churn. Those bands with any substance, talent or fundamental chops MUST give way within a short period of time so that the Next Thing can garner the disc sales. It is all about spiking up, always having something that, they hope, goes up higher and to hell with those that fall off the screen. So it ends up that there are a bunch of talentless mopes who get the face time—for now.

Posted by: gsv on September 11, 2001 08:33 AM

MTV won’t change. Its soulless programming of artists it chooses will continue unabated until a pop music movement comes along to either change or destroy it.

—Johnny Loftus, “Naughty Baby Did a No No,” 9/7/01

The comments and excerpt above were written in response to the feces-smeared yawner that was the MTV Video Music Awards 2001. At the time, we at Glorious Noise declared the Pop movement dead, and suggested that music’s cyclical nature would bring about something new in the year to come. And well, we were right – in a way. In 2002, MTV aped the more visceral sounds of MTV2, putting its considerable marketing, promotion, and revenue-generating juice behind the New Garage movement. Groups like The White Stripes and The Hives rose to unlikely levels of rock stardom, and even spawned imitators like The Vines, who are basically This Year’s Silverchair – representing New Garage’s inevitable second wave of blunt imitation. But if last night’s VMAs proved anything, it’s that nothing ever really changes at MTV. In 2002, a pop music movement did come along to change the one before. But instead of destruction, we’re left with assimilation. It may be a different sidewalk, but it’s the same old cracks.

The 2002 VMAs marked a rebuilding year for MTV. Over the hill veterans like Britney Spears and Puff Daddy were given plenty of playing time, but it was simply a nod to the championships they’d won the network in the past, and their no-trade clauses. Spears appeared in a laughable BD/SM latex getup that was only topped by crazy old Michael Jackson’s Voltron-as-world-dictator outfit. In a display befitting an aging, feeble King (of pop), Jackson received a standing ovation. Puff Daddy was given a chance to re-capture his old glory, but the moment was wasted on a confusing medley that featured a scampering Usher, Busta Rhymes crawling out of the mosh pit and Diddy’s usual atrocious rapping. Appearances by ancient mariners like Spears, Puff, and Jacko were offset by an entire stable of youthful hip-hop and R & B artists who were a jumble of oversized clothing, headbands, and posturing. Curiously absent from the festivities was the fiery rap gospel of Cee-Lo (another MTV2 success who MTV evidently decided not to invite) or the organic flow of Nappy Roots. Mainstream hip-hop is in definite need of a blood transfusion; hopefully by NEXT year’s VMAs, MTV will have changed the locks on Sean Combs and his ilk.

Though they’re no longer an item, you’d think that Britney would have had the decency to warn ex-beau Justin Timberlake about debuting new material on the VMAs. Spears’ 2001 impersonation of Lot’s wife, python in tow, was actually better than Timberlake’s soulless approximation of Michael Jackson’s best moves. Don’t call it a comeback, Justin. Maybe Lance has some room up in Space for your junk.

Despite all the lip service paid to The New Garage, MTV seemed to want to use the “genre” as a simple prop to occupy its time. The Hives appeared on stage in full Hives glory, performing a manic version of “Main Offender,” and were quickly ushered off stage in favor of The Vines. Pardon me, but wasn’t it Pelle Almqvist and the boys that all the pretty people were anxious to see before the show began? In a classic MTV gaffe, the Hives were pigeonholed, then codified, then made to move out in favor of something shittier. Doesn’t matter; Pelle was still able to rasp one of his classic one-liners on the outro. MTV knew it had to make stars out of The Strokes, Jack and Meg White, and The Hives in 2002 if it wanted to see a profit. And while it’s kind of disappointing to see The White Stripes’ gritty rock duality bandied about on national TV, it’s also sublime in the inexplicable paradoxes it creates. Porn star doppelgangers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen presenting a VMA to The White Stripes? Jack couldn’t resist thanking the Olsen Twins with a “Where the fuck am I?” gleam in his eye.

In the culmination of what passes for hip-hop feuds these days, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog egged on the strange Moby vs. Eminem slapfight that Em began with his infamous “You’re old, nobody listens to Techno” line. Tell me, do you still retain street cred if you challenge a puppet to a fistfight while your posse holds you back? Em continued the altercation into his next acceptance speech, calling out Moby from the stage. “Keep booing, little girl. I will hit a man with glasses.” Yes Marshall, but will you pistol whip a puppet?

I watched the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards with my pal Phil Wise. But we both wished we were watching it at Slash’s pad, when at the end of the 3-hour bore Jimmy Fallon creamed his designer jeans (like anyone raised in the 80s should) announcing Guns n’ Roses. But what appeared out of the smoke was not the reunification of one of America’s truest rock and roll bands; instead, Axl Rose trotted out a high school talent show appropriation of his glorious past, sans any of the people who actually made G n’ R great. Off-key, out of sync, and truly pitiful, a slightly worse-for-wear Rose hopped about the stage during an unfortunate medley of “Welcome to the Jungle,” a new song that sounded like what Tommy Lee shit out last night, and the penultimate kick in the teeth to his legacy, a lurching, bloated version of “Paradise City.” We can only hope that Slash, Izzy, and Duff were laughing their asses off over at Slash’s house, confident that their own legacy was made all the more bulletproof by Axl’s buffoonery. (Side note to Wes Borland: Now everyone knows that you stole Buckethead’s gimmick for your stint in Limp Bizkit.)

Roll the credits, ’cause it’s over. But the VMAs will be back next year, three times as boring as this year. Who will be the talk of the town in 2003? Whoever it is, make damn sure that MTV washes its hands and seals its fate. Because in a year where the network and the music industry had a slight chance to bring something new to the table, they opted for wholesale assimilation.

Someday never comes.


(Read Johnny’s review of the 2001 VMA’s—Ed.)


The 2001 VMAs Get Boring With the Cheez Whiz

Johnny Loftus

The 2001 MTV Video Music Awards made it perfectly clear that Pop is dead. For a show that has always offered at least a few bright spots, nothing in the performances, appearances, or posturing of the celebrities chosen to appear was remotely controversial, artistic, or even funny. The entire show was like Technicolor Malt-O Meal. And you know what that’ll look like when it comes out the other end. Like watching the final talent show at a summer camp you didn’t go to, the VMAs played out as a series of product placements masquerading as some celebrities playing charades in an elevator where the cable just snapped. Laugh it up, popstars: That was your fourteenth minute.

Sure, Britney’s not going anywhere for awhile. She’s too entrenched. Shit, if Virgin gives that old bag Whitney Houston a hundred million dollars for SIX albums, when all we’ve heard out of her for the past 4 years is “It’s not my pot!”, then it’s a good bet that Britney will survive the Poplife shitstorm that’s on the horizon. But what about Dream, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Willa Ford, Eve’s Crush, or even Christina? Sorry girls. I think Branson’s hiring, though. They should have known when they read the production notes for the VMAs that required the lot of them to arrive on stage at once, en masse, like a police lineup. (“Alright Mr Jenkins, can you pick out the diva that did this to you?”). MTV knows that they need to find a fatter cash cow toot suite, but they probably figured, “Hell, what’s one more awards show where we wring out the last of whatever saleable assets these galoops had in the first place?”

And that’s what happened.

All the popstars, thugs, and moan-rockers threw themselves and their record labels a big party, and hopped around on the platform in silly hats, yapping about their upcoming albums. After all, platinum football fields and wrist ice don’t come cheap. While Macy Gray took the product hawking to QVC-like levels, wearing a dress that proclaimed the release date of her forthcoming LP, no one else was any better, or less subtle. P.Diddy and his crew of Cosby kids opted to arrive at the VMAs not in a limo, but on the flatbed of a Peterbilt, slip-sliding about on the back end, rapping – no, pleading – “We ain’t goin’ nowhere.” I’m sure that Sean Combs/Puffy/P.Diddy/Puff Daddy/Diddy Pop would like to believe that, but nothing in his new material, or that of like-minded NYC rapper Jay-Z makes me think anything other than “Where’s the remote? Maybe I can catch the last few minutes of an old ‘Law & Order’ episode…”

That’s the anthem. Get your damn hands up.

The event began with the inevitable pre-show, which was about as exciting as Kurt Loder’s new haircut. Kid Rock showed up giving props out to the D with his vintage Bob Seger tour shirt. Sitting next to the Detroit player was some west coast pussy, Ms Pam Anderson, who seems to be giving Michael Jackson a run for his money in the surgery department. Poor Pammy looks like a cross between a blow up doll and a ‘Slippery when wet’ road sign. Next to take the stand in the court of Kurt was Britney and – I shit you not – Mick Jagger. While it wasn’t clear whether he was impersonating Austin Powers or vice versa, Jagger was definitely eyeing up Justin’s lady. “Aye Kurt, Oi seemply laawwve Britney’s work. Oi believe she perfawmed one of our sawngs, did she not?”, all the while wishing he had mirrors on the tops of his loafers. While the dichotomy of Jagger and Spears sharing space together was mildly interesting, the effect wore off after the 20th mention of their November album releases. Mick, next time just buy a billboard.

So the nizight went izon, with appearances by Snoop, DMX, Mark Whalberg, and — ? – Tizim Robbins. U2 smiled wanly through their interviews and a performance of “Elevation” that featured more technical glitches than a Soviet Internet café. Pizza Hut pitchman Carson Daly, bestowing upon the bewildered band a “Video Vanguard” award, referred to their work as “a fist in the air, a kick in the balls, and 2 hearts beating as one.” Well, that’s true, but for all that dope and his network know about Rock and Roll, they’ll christen Smashmouth as the progenitors of the “next big thing.” After a series of ill-timed bits and an appearance by Will Ferrell that just made you feel bad for him, the Remaining Ramones were trotted out as icons, and then promptly denied speaking time. J Lo and Ja Rule failed at being sexy. Alicia Keys, a bright spot in the Lauryn Hill Fallout Sweepstakes (Macy Gray, Nikka Costa, Jill Scott, etc.), blew up the arrangement of “Fallin'” into a groaning, teetering beast that devoured the simple pleasure of the song’s studio version. Oh well, I guess she’s just trying to be remembered in the midst of MTV Babylon.

The Lindsey Wagner movie airing opposite the 2001 VMAs on Lifetime was more edgy and controversial than MTV’s big event. In an evening dominated by Hip Hop and R&B, concessions were made to that other fading trend, Nu Metal. Staind moaned about something or other; Linkin Park’s squeaky clean lead singers won’t make anyone wasn’t to stay out past curfew (11:30pm) in Dad’s car. Aren’t these guys supposed to be scary looking? MuDvAyNe, the Eve’s Crush of the Moan-Core world, accepted their award with glittering mohawks and bullethole makeup. Ooh, I’m so scared. Jeez.

MTV won’t change. Its soulless programming of artists it chooses will continue unabated until a pop music movement comes along to either change or destroy it. Though the commemorative articles currently circulating think otherwise, Nirvana and their grunge brethren didn’t change the station. They were absorbed and compromised by it. Maybe Radiohead, Wilco, Ron Sexsmith, Bjork, Superchunk, Edith Frost, Smog, Lucinda Williams, and Ryan Adams will get together, form a summit, and change the musical lives of everyone out there thinking that MTV is a requirement on our cultural radar. But probably not. Britney Spears will release her new album in November, and it will most likely do very well. Even though her performance of “Slave 4 U” resembled a tribute to Scandal’s video for “The Warrior,” even though the song was the biggest piece of trash since her boyfriend’s performance of “Pop” 20 minutes before her, there’s no question that Britney will continue to sell records, at least until she becomes a full time actress. And MTV will be right there to analyze it, package it, and re-broadcast it until it’s time for them to give her a Video Vanguard award down the road in her career. She should be ready for that in about, oh, 3 years?

That’s the deal with this Pop life, and that’s why it’ll fade out.