Top 10 Moments of MTVâs Lukewarm VMAs

Somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin’

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all the new breed of women rappers to appear at the awards show with, you chose Iggy Azalea? Why won’t you just make up with Nicki Minaj already?

4. Jaden and Drake

Drake was always a better crooner than his musical forefather, Ja Rule. But last night, the Canadian rapper (who often speaks like he grew up down the street from me in Houston) showed off a noticeably improved vocal performance. Frank Ocean, be encouraged. Meanwhile, I don’t remember much else about Aubrey’s act, but I sure won’t ever forget Jaden Smith having to compose himself after he finished.

5. Kanye West and His Bad Timing

“Blood on the Leaves” may be a favorite among many Yeezus listeners, but I’ll always find his sampling of the anti-lynching “Strange Fruit” to create a whiny track about how awful it is that a sidepiece he impregnated won’t get an abortion to be one of the tackiest, most despicable acts ever. The only thing worse than Kanye West taking a song with that subject matter to present another paean of self-pity is seeing him choosing to perform it during the week the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March of Washington.

There’s creative license and then there’s just a blatant disregard for works that arguably shouldn’t be touched—at least, not tweaked in such a self-serving manner. I wouldn’t be so quick to point out that Kanye West should know better if not for the fact that in the midst of his ongoing Jekyll and Hyde act, he’s purported to know just that.

6. Justin Timberlake Saves the Day

Although it seemed rather dubious to some to hear Jimmy Fallon to refer to Justin Timberlake as the “President of Pop,” after watching him practically save the show with an extensive set that covered both his remarkable success as a solo act, in addition to his time as the most beloved member of one of the biggest boy bands ever, it’s hard not to recognize J. T. as some sort of pop deity. That said, as nice as it was to see *NSYNC reunite for about a smooth six seconds, it’s probably a good thing that it didn’t last too long. I’m not convinced Joey Fatone’s heart could’ve taken it. Oh, and FYI, Destiny’s Child’s reunion at this year’s Super Bowl remains the best reunion of the year

7. Bruno Mars

The multicultural version of Frankie Lymon offered a memorable performance without a costume, props, or a solid two-step.

8. A$AP Rocky and Jason Collins

Any man obsessed with fashion—particularly designer labels—and walking around with his hair plaited as if he’s never stopped longing for a letter from his missing sister, Nettie, should not be as uncomfortable with gay people as A$AP Rocky seemed on stage last night with the openly gay basketball player Jason Collins. To A$AP’s credit, he has spoken against homophobia in past interviews before, but he looked uncomfortable all the same. Settle down, sir. It’s not contagious.

9. Katy Perry’s TKO

Katy Perry is pretty, seems sweet as the tea that’ll ultimately lead to folks saying you have “the sugar,” and has lots of catchy songs. Unfortunately, all those blessings didn’t do much for her performance that closed out the show. She lip synced, but not for her life, and the whole thing reminded me of an episode of Glee. Not a compliment. Go watch some Janet Jackson tour DVDs… invite your famous BFF Rihanna onstage. Something.

10. Jennifer Hudson Shouts for the Blacks

It took a whopping two hours to see a Black person who could hit a note hop on stage. In fact, though Black artists did win some awards, none of it was televised. We had Kanye West, plus Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz during the Miley-Robin clown show, but no and no. To that end, give it up for Jennifer Hudson, who during Macklemore’s performance, yelled for every Black person we didn’t get to see or hear. 

Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.