Headphones: The Stars Keep the VMA's Afloat

It’s no secret that the MTV Video Music Award’s have been fighting for its relevancy for years.  Since the 90’s, MTV has fallen from the hierarchy of pop culture.  Once the outlet for hearing new music, particularly music videos, MTV has let it’s popularity dwindle in the last decade.  The main shift can be traced back to the entertainment brand shifting their focus from music to reality TV.  The tried to play the gimmick game to get more money and it hasn’t paid off.  While 20 years it was paramount to pop culture, today’s kids, when asked about MTV, would retort, “Who?”  There isn’t a place more evident of this when watching the MTV music awards.  The company throws an unwarranted amount of money into advertising the event, both on TV and social media.  Much like their reality TV push, it is all for naught.  They are slowly becoming the Myspace in a Facebook world.  The only reason advertisers still pay to keep it televised is the reason we watch, the celebrities, who kept us entertained enough on Sunday night. 

Long a staple of MTV controversy, Kanye West, who is currently embarking on his new Saint Pablo Tour, found himself front row once again.  MTV’s obviousness in using Kanye has also been dragging, as year after year they have made up award categories in order to draw up attention hoping he’ll have an outburst.  (see: Taylor Swift)  On this edition of Kanye’s MTV, they allowed him to premier his new video for the song Fade.  The video, who featured Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert, created perhaps the most buzz from someone not named Beyonce.  To go along with the video, West went on his trademark rant, going off on a grocery list of topics ranging from Taylor Swift to Amber Rose.  Other highlights included… Continued in this week’s Noteworthy section

Album of the Week: Prima Donna: Twitter’s favorite rapper is back at it again.  The sophomore commercial release, titled Prima Donna, is a glimpse of brilliance.  Running only 7 tracks long, Staples once again conjures up a fun summer rap album.  Last summer the Long Beach rapper rose to underground fame behind his Summer ’06 release.  Playing mostly the college circuits, Staples has slowly amassed a non-commercial following, but that might not be for long.  He’s always had the street cred, admitting to taking part of ‘gang banging’ growing up in Northside, Long Beach, California.  Now he’s developed his own sound artistically.  Prima Donna features much of what’s on Vince’s mind.  He opens with a gritty rendition of This Little Light of Mine.  These raspy ramblings make up much of the album. He isn’t here to deliver fun radio hits like other radio rappers.  He’s going to reel you in with the music and hit you hard with reality.  This is exemplified when the album is jump-started as the opening track ends in a gunshot.  Despite being so new to the game, he seems to have a strong handle of album concepts.  This short LP feels concise and together, making it easy to listen from start to finish.  This album may not be Vince’s break into commercial fame, but he may not be wanting to go there yet.  He seems to have fun with what he’s creating now, and we are all better for it. 

Pop: Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth: Not many suspected Puth would amount to much more after his commercial success of the hit song See You Again, but it appears he is here to stay.  On this song, his voice duels with Selena Gomez.

 EDM: The Chainsmokers – Don’t Let Me Down: The Chainsmokers have come a long way since dropping 2013’s hit #SELFIE.  They are now taking up headlining sets at festivals like Sunset Music Festival.  On Don’t Let Me Down, the duo recruit the vocals of Daya, and have amassed over 50,000,000 views since dropping the single at the end of April. 

Hip-Hop: Oldie – Odd Future: This week’s hip-hop pick, it a bit of an ‘oldie.’ Raps funniest crew shows that they aren’t all jokes.  The track features everyone, including Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean

Country: Carrie Underwood – Smoke Break: Country’s queen has returned.  For most of the last decade, Underwood dominated the country scene.  With only 1 release in the last 4 years, her buzz had begun to quiet down.  This song is the latest of a string of singles from the superstar, who looks to rise back on the charts. 

Noteworthy: VMA’s continued and Winners …none other than a Beyonce performance (surprise), Future giving a live debut for Stick Talk, and G-Eazy and Britney Spears playing their new song Make Me. All of which either felt weak or something we had already seen before.  Year after year they add the same artists in an attempt to garner more media attention, and its finally dawning on most audiences how dulling and exploitative it is.  The one genuine moment of the night came from Drake, who accepted the award for Best Hip Hop Video.  In recent weeks, his reported relationship has been flaunted in the media.  Hip/Hop’s two biggest stars dating generates quite the buzz.  So MTV couldn’t miss out on the opportunity, having Rihanna present the award to Toronto’s favorite rapper.  Drake fed into the craze, saying that Rihanna is “someone [he] had been in love with since he was 22 years old.”  On an otherwise dull night, Drake all but confirming their relationship provided the highlight. 

Here are the night’s winners:

Video of the Year: “Formation,” Beyonce

Michael Jackson Vanguard Award: Rihanna

Best Hip-Hop video: “Hotline Bling,” Drake

Best Male Video: "This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna

Best Female Video: “Hold Up,” Beyonce

Best New Artist: DNCE

Pop Video: “Formation,” Beyonce

Rock Video: “Heathens,” twenty one pilots 

Electronic Video: “How Deep Is Your Love,” Calvin Harris & Disciples

Best Collaboration: “Work from Home,” Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign

Best Visual Effects: “Up&Up,” Coldplay

Best Editing: “Formation,” Beyonce

Best Cinematography: “Formation,” Beyonce

Best Choreography: “Formation,” Beyonce 

Best Art Direction: “Blackstar,” David Bowie 

Breakthrough Long Form Video: “Lemonade,” Beyonce

Song of Summer: “All in My Head,” Fifth Harmony featuring Fetty WapVideo: “This is What You Came For,” Calvin Harris