September 7th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
The biggest night in music television was ... fine, we guess, but it definitely lacked the reckless, "what's-going-to-happen-next?" abandon that we've come to expect from MTV.
Maybe we're just getting old ... or maybe, after 29 years of putting on the show, it's MTV that's aged.
And we know it's not just us, because culture critics - those who weren't tasked with watching the Democratic National Convention, which was also on as VMAs host Kevin Hart flailed, One Direction sang and Lil Wayne looked bored - weren't all that taken with this edition, either.
The most shocking aspect of this year's show, said Billboard, was the fact that absolutely nothing at all was shocking.
"The Kevin Hart-hosted affair ran largely by the book," Billboard reviewed, "with a mix of goofy gags, performances, and a smattering of awards."
The L.A. Times agreed that "water cooler fodder was scarce with this year's show, which earned the dubious distinction of being less entertaining than Thursday's other big TV event, the Democratic National Convention." The paper also made a point that we'd like to heartily second: "In the absence of real razzle-dazzle, MTV seemed determined to turn the event into an episode of 'The Rihanna, Drake and Chris Brown show.' "
It seemed this year's VMAs just couldn't live up to the memory of 2011, as New York Magazine's Vulture explains, which, to be fair, would be difficult to top. For starters, Beyonce put the world on notice that a Blue Ivy was to be born, which could've been an entire show in itself. And then Adele proved that she still only needed a mic and a spotlight to put on a flawless, effortless performance, while Lady Gaga showed us her masculine side.
"Frankly," Vulture said, "[this year's] ceremony was kind of boring, as if the kids knew they should behave so as not to steal the thunder from the President come 10 p.m."
But for us, a large part of the problem was what the New York Times said was MTV's position of "[playing] host to warring constituencies." The VMAs offered proof, as "heritage pop acts like Pink, Alicia Keys and Green Day who still need the bite of youth credibility brush[ed] up against legitimate young stars and ... new acts who’ve garnered their fame in totally unconventional, non-MTV-centric [and non-TV-centric] ways."
If you're tempted to go back and watch a replay, the best moments were delivered from Rihanna and Katy Perry, but off-stage: The two girlfriends, sitting in the audience, easily provided some of the most watchable entertainment of the night - certainly entertaining enough to nab a Moon Man.
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