Monday 5 September 2011

2011 MTV Video Music Award Performance reviews: Adele, sounding a little rough, Beyonce lip-synching and Lady Gaga embarrassing!

What a strange and surreal experience this year's MTV Video Music Awards was. I think, in all honestly, at 27 I'm getting a little too old and jaded for this show. However, as there were Divas performing on the bill I had to watch! Below is my review of Adele's, Lady Gaga's and Beyonce's performances from the night. If you haven't seen them yourself, I've posted the videos too, so there is no excuse for not letting me know what you think in the comments.

Adele: Someone Like You
From the first note sang something didn't sound quite right with Adele's voice. It wasn't anything as bad or stand out as singing out of tune, or missing the notes but was more the change to the voices' weight and texture. Not only did the voice sound heavier- forcing her to push to reach some of the higher chest notes of the chorus- but it was missing the lustre, and bright clarity it usually commands. Contrast her voice from this performance to the one at the Brit Awards- below- only a few months earlier to hear the difference.

However, even with the changes to the voice, the performance of Someone Like You was still spellbinding and with it's simple staging and honest delivery it offered a panacea to the rest of the bloated, and garish freak show- Man Gaga, Katy Perry's cube hat, Nicki Magaj's mess of an outfit, ect- that was the MTV VMA this year.

Beyonce: Love on Top.
"I want you to Feel the love that's Growing inside of me" was how Beyonce began her performance for Love On Top. It was a statement that I'm not entirely sure everyone understood the significance of until Beyonce unbuttoned her jacket and began rubbing her belly, visibly beaming with happiness, at the songs' conclusion. Baby B is on the way!! It was an electrifying moment that has no doubt joined the top ten list of greatest MTV VMA moments for many.

Vocally the performance to Love On Top was out of this world: brilliantly impassioned, with an urgency in the chorus that gave the song life. Even more astounding was the way her voice soared up the octaves as the multitude of key changes hit, never struggling or faltering. A little too perfect I thought. Was this really a live vocal?

My suspicion about Beyonce perhaps lip-syncing to a pre-recorded version of Love On Top pretty much centred around how her voice seemed totally unaffected by the movements she was making. Her head, neck and diaphragm were moving erratically throughout much of the performance, yet there seemed to be no correlation between that and changes in the voice's quality or it's volume (3.57 in particular should definitely have produced fluctuations in the dynamics). An anomaly that was made even more curious when compared to the fluctuations in dynamics present in Beyonce's voice during the live introduction, where she was merely speaking.

The lack of background noise picked up by the microphone, such as when Beyonce's hair brushed against it (3,50), or when she began to clap against it (4.07) also seemed odd to me. If the feed leaked onto the internet taken from Beyonce's microphone is to be believed- listen below- then if the microphone was sensitive enough to pick up the audience- as it did during the spoken introduction- then surely it would have picked up the noises noted above too if it were really on. However, it should be said that there are a lot of haters out there-I'm sure some reading will call me one- with time on their hands and a point to prove, so it could be that this feed has been doctored or fabricated just to hate on Beyonce.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Beyonce with the assertion above, and I believe she is capable of singing the song live, so I could totally be wrong. However, on this occasion I think she played it safe and went for the pre-recorded vocals because she knew that this was a special moment that would be watched by millions around the world, and so wanted the whole thing to be as perfect as possible. Besides, pre-recorded or not, that was still her voice, and it is sensational.

Lady Gaga: You and I
The male personae "Joe Calderone" that Lady Gaga donned for the VMA’s did absolutely nothing for me for most the show. Particularly bad was when Man Gaga presented the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award" to Britney Spears.
This was a moment that should have been Britney's to enjoy and bask in. Instead it became about that near-kiss with Gaga, Britney’s apparent unease at Gaga’s leering, and Beyonce- who for some reason MTV thought Britney should introduce- and not the award.

It’s just lucky for Gaga that she can perform so damn well, or these attention seeking antics wouldn’t be tolerated so much. The performance of her latest single You and I was a definite highlight of the show. It was also the moment where her alter ego really came into his own. Previous renditions of You and I had been missing something, being slightly sweet, and a little at odds with the songs backing. However the alter ego seemed to have allowed Gaga to let loose with her voice; delivering a raw, passionate and intense delivery that made me like, and understand contextually, the song a lot better.


  1. Hi- I love your blog. I thought Adele's performance was good because it was simple and gimmick free but it was forgettable to me. Beyonce was the highlight of the night for me because of the pregnancy reveal- greater than any moon man award. But like you said lip synched for not the vocals sounded great. It seems out of her character to lip sync and I don't know why she choose to during that performance. She has done so many harder performances in the past where she's dancing and everything (recent Billboard awards). Lady Gaga pretty much ruined and degraded the show for me. I was cringing during that awful monologue. And during Britney's tribute??? Why does she feel the need to be an attention whore? Since all the talk was about Beyonce afterwards I wouldn't be surprised if Gaga came out pregnant on one of her next performances. Anyway I do like You and I and like always her vocals were great during the performance; I also thought the dance part was unnecessary.

  2. hey anon, I'm glad I wasn't alone in my thoughts of the night! Thanks for taking the time to comment! You should sign your name on your post though if you are a regular reader- or even make up an alias if you don't feel comfortable using your real name- just so I can identify you if you comment on other posts. Its nice for me to know the regulars. :D

  3. Hmmm - the mic banged when she dropped it to the a sound engineer must have been quick off the mark sticking the vocal back up again! Well done that man!

    Also I don't think that Youtube vid is a real isolated 'live mic feed', instead I think he has taken the recording as it stood and removed everything but the vocal, therefore it doesn't
    prove/disprove anything.

    Is she miming? She's certainly moving her head around a lot, flipping her hair etc, which is a good technique if you want to fool people. I would certainly expect her to be more out of breath.

  4. Meant to say - as regards Adele - does she always drop the top part of the chorus "Don't forget me, I beg..." a third when singing it live now? She's apparently been cancelling gigs this week due to a chest infection too - so perhaps all was not well at the VMAs? This might be why you could detect the change in her voice.

    She has an amazing tone but I'm concerned that she has damaged her voice in some way...hence dropping the top notes etc. She's previously had to cancel work due to laryngitis earlier in the year.

    Now I KNOW she's the poster girl for smoking/drinking/having fun, and I know it's not cool to say this, but those things ain't great for your voice.

  5. Hey Karen! I'm still not 100% sure if its lip synced or not, but the clear change in the sound quality from her speaking at the start, to when she starts singing- along with her not being out of breath at the end- still leads me to eer on the side of it not being a live vocal. As for the mic drop i think there was ample time from the last note to that happening for the engineer to switch it back on. But I guess we'll never know for sure.

  6. lol, hello again. I totally forgot that the album version goes higher. I'm just so used to hearing the live version released. In my opinion the change works better for song as those higher notes on the album seem to come out of the blue, disrupting the mood of the song. As for her being sick, that makes sense for me in the context of her voice. I just hope its that and isn't a result of the smoking and drinking.

  7. Hi again this is the first commenter and yes I'm a regular reader and that was my first comment- I had to comment on this article because I've been anticipating hearing your opinion on the VMAs. So anyway, there's my name.

  8. well Hannah thank you so much for commenting, and I hope it'll be the first of many!!

  9. ADELE: her voice is still beautiful and simple and her being sick wasn't that big of a deal but i agree when i was watching it i knew something was going on with her voice and soon after i find out she had an illness and postponed some of her shows because of it...

    BEYONCE: i love beyonce but you are very perceptive when it comes to these things and i do agree it seemed as if she was miming because she was moving like crazy and her voice didn't budge a bit - shes incredible though but im a little disappointed she might have mimed her performance

    GAGA: i love gaga and its sad her antics take away from her ability - it makes me mad that people say shes a freak and that she can't sing but she has a great voice IMHO
    the jo calderone persona wasn't my favorite either and i wish she would have done an acoustic performance of the edge of glory before like on howard stern then went into you and i


  10. @anon, thanks for the support. I was expecting to get slated for my opinions!

  11. Beyonce is breathing hard, listen carefully

  12. Easily faked. Your point?

  13. Proof BEYAWNCE lipped love on top!Case CLOSED!

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  15. I'm still mad that Britney's moment was stolen by some attention seeking bitches. I still love beyonce though :3.