I have been fighting with myself all week over blogging about (or even acknowledging the existence of) the incredibly stupid and self-degrading VMA performance of Miley Montana... or whatever she's called these days.
But, the more I fought myself not to post about it, the more I realized how much I enjoyed Lady Gaga's opening performance and it's unfair that I not mention the award show at all because of one minor train wreck.
My message to the young Miley Cyrus: Someone in a suit somewhere obviously sat you down taught you that obvious lesson that sex sells. The lesson that pervy exec left out of the course is that there's a not-so-fine line between titillating and trashy, provocative and raunchy, and sensual and sloppy.
Take Lady Gaga. She opened the show with an artistic performance of her newest single "Applause". Starting out with a fully-covered body (somewhat resembling an abstract nun's habit) and singing in an operatic tone. She had boos and jeers piped into the backup soundtrack and started the show solo, covered up, practically acapella and with a live singing voice. This, apparently, warranting the boos.
Next scene, two backup dancers join her onstage and she gains a head of hair that is fashioned in a chic bob and a conservative but sequined 80's styled power suit to the sounds of mild clapping.
As the song progressed, she progressively lost layers of clothing, gained more backup dancers, dramatic lighting increased, her hair swelled and her voice became more auto-tuned (sometimes even purposely holding the mic above her head as her overly-engineered voice still blasted.)
Her performance ended with her dressed in nothing but sea shells and a g-string, her voice lip-synched, back-up dancers now in the legions and her hair surpassing Diana Ross status in size and texture. Wolf-whistles and enthusiastic cheers came from the audience and Drake sat in the front row elbowing his neighbor in a "check that a$$ out" fashion. (Check out the performance yourself by scrolling to the bottom of this web link: http://buzzworthy.mtv.com/2013/08/25/lady-gaga-vma-applause-gifs/.)
Lady Gaga gave us a great social commentary on the modern state of pop music and the industry's seeming disdain for actual talent. This implication that the only way to earn applause and sell music these days is through digitization, gaining a weave and losing a wardrobe is sad, but pretty much spot on.
Then enters Miley, further proving Gaga's point.
I don't need to summarize the performance. Everyone who cared to see it has seen it. Most agree that it lacked taste, purpose and artistic integrity. (Not to mention rhythm and any sort of actual choreography.) If you're going to do shock value, you have to have some sense of reason behind it. (See Gaga's split-second flash of the bum cheeks.) If Miley's performance had any message, it was simply that "I'm legal now, ya'll!" and apparently also stoned off her rocker. The one thing she did achieve that night was managing to make Lil' Kim look classy standing next to her.
If the playback of the audience reactions didn't sink in with her (Drake obviously much less impressed with this show of booty) the lesson was still completely lost on her the next day when she bragged online that her performance garnered 306,000 tweets per minute. Had she bothered to actually read any of those tweets, she would have found that they most likely echoed my Facebook newsfeed which was flush with comments of "Gross!", "Nasty!", "My daughter's no longer allowed to listen to her!" and "What a trash bag!!!"
This does not generate sales, dummy. I will be downloading "Applause". I will never be downloading whatever that was you were promoting. (Was that a song? A Build-a-Bear special promotion? I'm still as confused as Willow Smith.)
So the night's true win goes to Lady Gaga who portrayed true artistic integrity and who will earn actual record sales. Also winning, Justin Timberlake, who managed to remain fully clothes while shuffling that middle-aged body through over fifteen minutes of actual choreography and simultaneously reuniting with his NSync alumni to receive the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award.
In closing, Miley Cyrus; please rewatch the show once you've sobered up and follow the example of the true professionals. I hereby sentence you to turtleneck collars, full pairs of pants and four semesters of Julliard training... minimum!