Last night's 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, the 30th edition, described by the New York Times as "(sic) a lot to look away from," served up a riot of risque and solid performances with some musical highlights and a lot of great reaction shots.
And then, there was Justin Timberlake, 'N Sync, and Miley Cyrus --- who, henceforth cannot ever again deny her ratchet status.
But first, to Justin Timberlake.
Even if the 32-year-old hadn't just come off his 14-date Legends of the Summer Stadium tour with Jay Z, the Memphis native's voice would still have rocked Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
It says a great deal about Timberlake that despite some untypically bad mixing from MTV's sound guys, his 15 minute set was a revelation. Introduced by Jimmy Fallon, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award winner punched through a masterclass performance beginning with the Off The Wall-esque (taped) playback of "Take Back The Night" walking through the arena.
First up was a oomphed-up version of "SexyBack."
Then, more old favorites with new arrangements, "Like I Love You," "My Love," a truly tremendous "Cry Me A River," segueing into the intro of "What Goes Around," a flash of "Senorita," then "Rock Your Body," complete with a disco floor, vintage soul splices, and a dance off to Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust."
The gorgeous strings intro of "Pusher Love Girl" ushered in a short but still sweet 'N Sync moment with "Girlfriend" and "Bye Bye Bye." Finally, it was time for the 20/20 Experience and a home run of "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors."
In short, Timberlake delivered a classy, tighter than tight, adrenalin rush of showmanship, music, and just the right note of swagger. Take note boy bands of the present, if you have talent there is a future beyond synchronized fluff.
And so, to ratchet Cyrus.
Resplendent in a teddy bear bodysuit, surrounded by, er, teddy bears, the 20-year-old stood legs astride as she snarled her way through chart slayer "We Can't Stop."
Rihanna's face said it all, and that was before we were treated (is that the word?) to Robin Thicke --- curiously out of tune --- and ratchet Cyrus now stripped to flesh-colored panties while twerking her bony a**, foam finger, and oddly hammy tongue to the ubiquitous hit "Blurred Lines."
Will Smith, Willow, and Jaden's slack-jawed react was instantly mirrored throughout the Interwebs. MTV bosses are probably still smiling. Score one for another scandal-laden VMA's.
Over at New Statesman, Sarah Ditum wasn't convinced any actual liberation had taken place.
She writes: "The VMAs showed that, once again, white men run the show, black men play support, all the women get mostly naked, and black women get to hold up the bottom of the objectification pile."
Casting a less outraged more bored verdict on ratchet's shock-jock approach to sloughing off her Hannah Montana early start (you can stop now Miley we've got it, you've moved on), Ditum adds:
"If the endgame is always a skinny white woman in her underwear, it doesn't seem to make much odds what the hooks are or what wit and gameplaying goes into getting there."
As we bid goodbye to the Video Music Awards for another year lets reflect on how far the show has come. Stunning performances were seen from Bruno Mars, Timberlake ('N Sync), desolation aplenty from Kanye West, dullness from Austin Mahone and Daft Punk, and interesting turns from Drake and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with guests Mary Lambert and Jennifer Hudson.
In the women's corner, Taylor Swift sneered as usual, while Gaga, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande (pre-show) showed their talent to great effect. As for ratchet Cyrus, she ensured her headlines grab but Kelly Clarkson gets the last word on her contribution.
Just saw a couple performances from the VMA's last night. 2 words.... #pitchystrippers
— Kelly Clarkson (@kelly_clarkson) August 26, 2013
For a full list of the winners at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, head here.
[Image via Boston Herald]