Awards Season

The MTV Video Music Awards In Pictures: Lady Gaga Is Not Herself

  • Lady Gaga opened the show with a long — an overlong, actually — monologue in drag as her alter ego, Jo Calderone. She would remain in character all ... night ... long.
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    Lady Gaga opened the show with a long — an overlong, actually — monologue in drag as her alter ego, Jo Calderone. She would remain in character all ... night ... long.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Lady Gaga's performance with a group of similarly dressed dudes was far more interesting than all the weird, third-person talk about herself from the perspective of "Jo."
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    Lady Gaga's performance with a group of similarly dressed dudes was far more interesting than all the weird, third-person talk about herself from the perspective of "Jo."
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • What really seemed transgressive, perhaps more than all the crazy hats and drag kings, was Adele, performing the arresting "Someone Like You" as ... herself.
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    What really seemed transgressive, perhaps more than all the crazy hats and drag kings, was Adele, performing the arresting "Someone Like You" as ... herself.
    Anthony Harvey/PictureGroup
  • Justin Bieber received the Best Male Video award and looked bored the entire time. Perhaps the best Bieber tweet came from writer Christina Kinon, who said, "Justin Bieber is slowly morphing into Ms. Kremens, my high school lacrosse coach."
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    Justin Bieber received the Best Male Video award and looked bored the entire time. Perhaps the best Bieber tweet came from writer Christina Kinon, who said, "Justin Bieber is slowly morphing into Ms. Kremens, my high school lacrosse coach."
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Britney Spears won the Video Vanguard Award and was honored with a stage full of impersonators of her various identities over the years. It's a whole wall of Britneys.
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    Britney Spears won the Video Vanguard Award and was honored with a stage full of impersonators of her various identities over the years. It's a whole wall of Britneys.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • A gorgeous Beyonce Knowles took the opportunity to announce before the show, and then to acknowledge with a gleeful rubbing of her baby bump, that she's pregnant.
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    A gorgeous Beyonce Knowles took the opportunity to announce before the show, and then to acknowledge with a gleeful rubbing of her baby bump, that she's pregnant.
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Singer Chris Brown did a lot of energetic dancing as he tried again for a fresh start.
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    Singer Chris Brown did a lot of energetic dancing as he tried again for a fresh start.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Kanye West and Jay-Z, whose collaborative album Watch The Throne was released earlier this month, performed together.
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    Kanye West and Jay-Z, whose collaborative album Watch The Throne was released earlier this month, performed together.
    Photo by Vince Bucci/PictureGroup
  • This is Nicki Minaj, who won the Best Hip-Hop Video Award for "Super Bass." For a woman wearing so many slippers, she doesn't look very comfortable.
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    This is Nicki Minaj, who won the Best Hip-Hop Video Award for "Super Bass." For a woman wearing so many slippers, she doesn't look very comfortable.
    Jason Merritt/Getty Images
  • Tyler the Creator won the Best New Artist award. He was bleeped a few times during his acceptance speech, but didn't nearly take home the fictional Most Bleeped Award for the evening.
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    Tyler the Creator won the Best New Artist award. He was bleeped a few times during his acceptance speech, but didn't nearly take home the fictional Most Bleeped Award for the evening.
    Photo by Anthony Harvey/PictureGroup
  • No, the Most Bleeped Award would go to rapper Lil Wayne, who seemingly had about a third of his song cut for language. Also, please meet his underwear.
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    No, the Most Bleeped Award would go to rapper Lil Wayne, who seemingly had about a third of his song cut for language. Also, please meet his underwear.
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Singer Jessie J, stuck with a bum foot and therefore seated all night, served as the entertainment heading in and out of commercial breaks.
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    Singer Jessie J, stuck with a bum foot and therefore seated all night, served as the entertainment heading in and out of commercial breaks.
    Photo by Vince Bucci/PictureGroup
  • Singer Katy Perry accepted the Video Of The Year award with a giant yellow block on her head. Make of it what you will.
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    Singer Katy Perry accepted the Video Of The Year award with a giant yellow block on her head. Make of it what you will.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Bruno Mars performed a version of "Valerie" as part of the VMAs tribute to Amy Winehouse, who died earlier this year.
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    Bruno Mars performed a version of "Valerie" as part of the VMAs tribute to Amy Winehouse, who died earlier this year.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Tony Bennett also spoke about Winehouse, and on the big screen, MTV showed footage of the two of them recording together at Abbey Road Studios.
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    Tony Bennett also spoke about Winehouse, and on the big screen, MTV showed footage of the two of them recording together at Abbey Road Studios.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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The MTV Video Music Awards are always ridiculous.

By that I mean that they are intended to be ridiculous. They are meant to have one big moment — Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift forgiving Kanye West in song, Madonna and Britney Spears kissing, whatever — and the rest is just sort of ... happening.

Sunday night's VMAs were no exception. They got off to a surprisingly warm and sweet start when news broke that Beyonce had announced her pregnancy on the "black carpet," the VMAs version of the awards-show red carpet. (Nothing pleases MTV quite like erroneously believing itself to be edgy.)

The show itself opened with Lady Gaga in character as someone she called "Jo Calderone," a man who spoke of himself as Lady Gaga's ... boyfriend? Something like that? She would remain in character all night, making several appearances as Jo: to accept the award for Best Female Video on Gaga's behalf, to present Britney Spears with the Video Vanguard Award while making lewd references to how much Jo used to enjoy lying in bed and thinking of Britney, and, of course, performing the opening number.

The rest was surprisingly tame, even in its wilder moments: Lil Wayne was bleeped with such frequency that it became utterly comical watching him running around the stage in his underpants madly screaming words nobody was hearing. Honestly, swearing at the VMAs is a little like streaking on the radio: there's really no point except proving you can do it in a situation where you know nobody's going to actually witness it.

Britney Spears, once such a wild child of MTV herself, oddly came off as the calmest, most bewildered presence there, briefly acting like she might start making out with Gaga/Joe before going to the microphone and straightforwardly accepting her Vanguard award.

Late in the evening, Russell Brand introduced a tribute to Amy Winehouse that included his recollections of meeting her in London, a few words from Tony Bennett about her staggering talent as a jazz singer, and a fairly odd performance by Bruno Mars, who essentially paid tribute to Amy Winehouse by covering "Valerie," a song she also covered with Mark Ronson. With all the women who have been influenced by Winehouse — including Adele, who offered a stunning performance of "Someone Like You" — it seems odd that the best MTV could think of for a tribute was Bruno Mars.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele

All in all, a strange night, but one that at least didn't result in anyone jumping up on the stage and interrupting anyone else.

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