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.
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.
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.