A Recap Of Last Night’s 3-Hour Ariana Grande Promotion, Or The 2018 VMAs

As anyone who doesn’t live under a rock without wifi can tell you, the 2018 VMAs were last night. Awards were given, asses were bared, and we all had to grapple with the stunning realization that in 2018, face tattoos are like, a thing. Here’s everything you need to know so you can pretend you didn’t drink two glasses of wine and fall asleep in your clothes halfway through.

The Hosts

This year the VMAs went hostless which, tbh, was a godsend after Katy Perry’s sad excuse of a performance as host last year, which I affectionately still refer to as “the stand-up show from Hell”.

Cardi and her baby open us up but—oh wait!—it’s not her baby! It’s actually a moon man. Was I the only person relieved that Cardi didn’t actually drag an infant child up on stage at such a loud, late-night event? Am I the only person who thinks babies and small children don’t belong at the VMAs? More on this later…

For the rest of the show, the VMAs separated hosting duties among a variety of people, from charismatic superstars (hi Cardi) to actual comedians (put Tiffany Haddish on every stage please) to what I can only assume are soulless cardboard cutouts of human beings that MTV animates to star in their 3 million television shows.

The only people who got this format right, IMHO, were Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart, who came out and gave a truly manic roast-style monologue that made me think, “these two are on drugs, and it is WORKING.”

Hart kept it semi-political, saying things like “in this game you’re allowed to kneel!” while Haddish saved her comments for the stars, the most awkward of which was when she thoroughly mispronounced Camila Cabello’s name and then roasted Fifth Harmony for not being invited while Camila was nominated for literally everything.

Cabello, who was in full princess gown mode, clearly didn’t appreciate any of it. I mean, being reminded of the time you lost all your friends is probably not the best way to kick off a fancy award show.

Also not appreciative of the comment was Nicki Minaj, who wasted no time starting sh*t when she was accepting her award for best Hip Hop, telling Tiffany Haddish not to come for Normani because she’s “that b*tch.”

Me During This Moment: Oh no oh God if Tiffany Haddish and Nicki Minaj fight I won’t know what to do who do I support I hate when friends are fighting I can’t handle this anxiety—
Nicki (to Tiffany): No, I love you.
Me: OH THANK GOD MOM & DAD ARE GONNA BE FINE!

The rest of the hosts vacillated between “passable” to “painfully awkward and I want to die.” In the passable category were Keegan Michael-Key and Olivia Munn, who did a classic “I’m reading the wrong lines!” bit.

In the “painfully awkward and I want to die category” were Blake Lively, Ana Kendrick, and the Rockettes, who I’d say got an A for effort and an F for execution. The whole premise of the bit was that Lively (dressed like she’s starring in an off-broadway production of Cabaret) knows the Rockettes. She calls on the Rockettes to come out, they don’t, so then Kendrick starts explaining how their new movie “will get you laid” when the Rockettes do show up, give a full performance, and Kendrick and Lively only notice once they’re done with their weird mime routine.

If the above paragraph was confusing for you, that’s because the whole thing was confusing and frankly, I expect more from Anna Kendrick.

Just when I was starting to feel like I was too old to understand wtf is going on at the VMAs anymore, the MTV Gods gifted us early 90s babies with Jimmy Fallon introducing Panic! At The Disco, who then led into another awkward intro by the Backstreet Boys.

Me Watching This Scene:

Millie Bobby Brown Watching This Scene:

The Backstreet Boys sang one song from each of the “Song Of The Year” nominees, and I got the distinct impression that they hadn’t practiced. The whole thing was very awkward and made me even sadder than Logic’s immigration performance (we’ll get to that later). But I appreciate the people at MTV throwing a bone to those of us who remember what dial-up internet was like.

IMHO, the true unofficial hosts of the VMAs were Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande, to whom the camera crew cut approximately 100,000 times throughout the show, just to make sure we were all still paying attention and aware that they are engaged.

Conclusion: The only thing worse that people trying to be funny at the VMAs is people who don’t try to be funny at the VMAs.

The Awards

Like most VMAs (except the infamous “I’mma let you finish but…” moment), the awards were handed out pretty predictably and the only real moment of tension was the aforementioned Nicki-Tiffany beef.

To reiterate, Nicki got Best Hip-Hop for “Chun Li” and Ariana helped her get up to the stage. #WomenSupportingWomen. She then shouts out Ariana Grande later in her acceptance speech because honestly this whole show is really just about Ariana Grande at this point.

Speaking of Ariana Grande, she won Best Pop, where she thanked “her friends on the internet” (relatable) and Pete Davidson “for existing.” A ringing endorsement from one fiancee to another.

Post Malone and 21 Savage won for “Rockstar,” Childish Gambino won Best Video With A Message (and had his choreographer accept because he’s a Renaissance Man with better sh*t to do), J Balvin won for Best Latin, and JLo, Cardi, and DJ Khaled got Best Collaboration.

Cardi also won Best New Artist which is well deserved but also hilarious to think of her as “new” because I truly cannot remember anything from before Cardi B came into my life.

Did anybody else notice they had to enlist like, five people to help Cardi get on stage just so they could walk her back down into the audience to get her Moon Man from Millie Bobby Brown, which she immediately handed back to Millie (who is the same size as the Moon Man), because, and I quote, “this sh*t is heavy.” That seemed avoidable.

The rest of the major awards (Video of the Year & Artist of the Year) went to Camila Cabello, who came a long way since getting roasted and having her name mispronounced at the beginning of the show. From here on out, 2018 will be known as El Año Cabello.

The Performances

TL;DR on last night’s performances is that the women killed it and the men were like…fine.

Shawn Mendes kicked us off by making the audience extremely wet—I’m sorry, he made himself extremely wet playing guitar under a single rain cloud like he’s a sexy Charlie Brown or something.

Logic, of all the dudes, brought it the hardest with a performance of his single “One Day” where he wore a shirt that says “F*ck the Wall” and brought up immigration activists from United We Dream, Make The Road New York, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. They all entered from the back of the building wearing white T-shirts à la Eminem’s 2000 performance of “The Real Slim Shady,” except this time instead of slut-shaming Christina Aguilera, the artist made a poignant statement about immigrant rights and citizenship in America. 2018 really is something.

The best performances were by Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande. At first, I was shocked they would dare put Nicki on the outside stage, but she killed it in her Egyptian-inspired performance of “Barbie Dreams” and “Fefe.” The crowd was literally singing every word even though the album came out two seconds ago so, yeah, I think the monicker “Queen” is accurate.

We were all watching and waiting for Ari to perform, the way Pete Davidson watches Ari while she sleeps and waits for her to get up. And lemme tell ya, she delivered.

How good is being engaged to the dude who spawned the phrase “Big D*ck Energy?” Good enough to cast yourself as Jesus in a Last Supper inspired performance of “God Is A Woman.” Then Ariana ended by bringing out her ancestors (i.e her mom, aunt, and grandma) out with no introduction like we’re supposed to know who the f*ck these people are.

Diva status: Achieved.

Maluma made history as the first Latin artist to ever perform on the VMAs. He kept it pretty simple, dancing with a random sexy lady on a platform before ditching her to go dance with Camila Cabello and her mom.

Aerosmith, apparently, also performed, but I gotta be honest and say we were like 2.5 hours deep into this award show at that point, and Aerosmith reminds me of my ex so I kinda checked out. I’m sure they were fine.

The Video Vanguard Award

So obviously no discussion of the night’s performances would be complete without talking about our Video Vanguard Award winner, motherf*ckin’ Jennifer Lopez.

Did you know that JLo’s infamous green Grammy’s dress was the reason Google invented Google Image search, because so many people were Googling the dress it made them realize they needed an image option? I learned that on Twitter last night and have been shook ever since.

In keeping with the fact that she’s literally the b*tch who invented Google images, JLo’s performance was amazing. She started by singing “Waiting For Tonight” while flying around, then launched into a medley of all her hits.

I actually clutched my heart and said, “aww!” when she started “My Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” at which point the stage shifted from a Minaj-esque Egyptian motif to a snow bunny motif which I can only image was an homage to the “All I Have” video with LL Cool J.

At one point DJ Khaled comes out and I feel like its 50/50 as to whether or not he was asked to perform, or just can’t help but screaming “ANOTHER ONE” into any available microphone.

The best cameo, obviously, was when Ja Rule came out to help her perform “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny,” proving that JLO is not only a beautiful vanguard, but a benevolent one. She’s forgiven Ja Rule for Fyre Festival, and so too shall we.

Anybody else spend this entire performance thinking about how JLo is 49 years old? The only thing of note I’ll probably be doing when I’m 49 is going on Dr. Pimple Popper to have a fatty lipoma removed.

Once the performance was over we cut to Shawn Mendes, who totally f*cking blew it. Or the VMAs blew it. Or everybody blew it. Either way, it was blown.

As Shawn is trying to introduce JLo, you can literally hear the entire audience chatting in the background. It’s deafening. No one is paying attention to him. At one point Ja Rule runs across the stage behind him and just starts chatting with another person in the audience. People are taking selfies. It was brutal. Shawn Mendes could have said literally anything in that moment because nobody was paying attention. He could have been like, “I have Donald Trump’s pee tape on a thumb drive right now!” and the audience would have been like, “Do you know when someone is coming around with more drinks?”

Anyway, JLo then gave a very nice speech about her long ass career in which she called one of her managers her “three eyed crow,” so I guess we know JLo likes Game of Thrones.

JLo: It’s been so crazy dreaming my wildest dreams watching them all come true.
Me Drinking Boxed Wine, Blocking Yet Another Call From My Credit Card Company:

The only thing missing from this, in my view, was that I really wanted JLo to perform “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” by Selena. That would have been dope.

Madonna?

Soooo we have to talk about the absolute weirdest moment of the night, which was supposed to be the most solemn.

It all started out well and good with the VMA’s attempt at an Aretha Franklin tribute, but then Madonna came out dressed like someone who was about to sell you fake ayahuasca at a festival and you know shit is about to go off the rails.

Madonna used Aretha Franklin’s tribute to tell a long-ass story about herself. Does Madonna think the VMAs are The Moth? Is this her one-woman show? I’m truly confused. The story has literally nothing to do with Aretha Franklin, other than the fact that at one point she sings an Aretha Franklin song, which is more about Madonna letting us know she’s a good singer than it was about Aretha Franklin’s contributions to music.

Then Madonna launches into another story that actually has nothing to do with Aretha Franklin even tangentially, where she reminds us all about the time she sang “Like A Virgin” on a cake and her manager said her career was over. She ends that performance by saying “lol” outloud, but pronouncing it wrong.

Thank you, Madonna, for that touching contribution.

Final Thoughts

All in all a pretty standard VMAs, but I have to get one thing off my chest: Does anybody else feel like baby Asahd, DJ Khaled’s 1-year-old son, is just like, too young to be at the VMAs? The VMAs are late as f*ck! Also loud. He’s a damn baby! Everyone here is drunk. Get a babysitter and bring him to the VMAs when he can actually sing along to some of the songs. That’s just my belief.

Also, did anybody else catch that Truth commercial about how smoking will give you erectile dysfunction? That was…a lot.

Also, why the f*ck was Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, there? Don’t you have a case to be working on? Are we just going all in on the “politics is entertainment” thing now?

Tune in next year when the VMAs will be hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with a performance by Betsy DeVos.

Images: Getty Images; GIPHY  (14)