Bette Midler and Dan Aykroyd, in case you want to think about how far we’ve come— and which will, tonight, play host to performances by the likes of Jay-Z, Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Pink, Taylor Swift (pictured), and Green Day, as well as a show-opening tribute to the late Michael Jackson undertaken by his younger sister Janet. Will I be able to handle this task while not on a couch? Find out after the jump!Welcome to Idolator’s third annual liveblog of MTV’s Video Music Awards, an annual tribute to the televisual representation of pop music that inspires waxing poetic about The Old Days and generalized bitching about the state of the channel’s programming alongside the occasional water-cooler-worthy music-related moment. Tonight we come to you from the basement of Radio City Music Hall, which was the venue for the inaugural occasion of Moonman-bestowing—hosted by
7:45 p.m. 75 minutes to showtime, and I am (perhaps ill-advisedly) drinking some of the catering-provided coffee. The in-press-compound monitors are showing a Very Special VMA-Synergized America’s Next Best Dance Crew. JC Chasez got to judge a re-creation of the 1999 performance of ‘N Sync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart”! Aw.
7:46 p.m. I mentioned this on Twitter, but i will repeat the list of artists with charting singles right now who are not scheduled to perform tonight: Black Eyed Peas; Jay Sean (and his sidekick Lil Wayne); Miley Cyrus; Rihanna and Kanye West; Kings of Leon; Mariah Carey; Jason DeRulo; Drake; Keri Hilson; Shakira. (Dear Mariah Carey fans, please don’t get mad at me for pointing this out, OK?)
7:53 p.m. Sorta quiet in here—most of the other bloggers are still up by the red carpet. I don’t really follow ABDC, but it doesn’t really seem like one of those shows that you have to keep up with in order to “get.”
7:57 p.m. PRE-VMA QUIETISH PERIOD PSA: If you need a new password to log into comments, e-mail me at mauraATidolatorDOTcom and I’ll hook you up.
7:58 p.m. Oh boy, it’s the prelude to the pre-show! Can you taste the excitement! Does it taste like catering coffee or what!
8:00 p.m. The pre-show has begun, and with it comes a closeup of Lady GaGa’s outfit for the evening. She is wearing a hat that is attached to her head with feathers. It gives her a sort of delicate linebacker look.
8:01 p.m. BTW: I am wearing Top American Designer Michael Kors! Eh, you know, I don’t get out of the house much, so when I do I kind of have to step it up.
8:03 p.m. Billie Joe Armstrong continues his transformation into a miniature Robert Smith.
8:05 p.m. And the Internet invades the proceedings with the introduction of “Internet Celebrity” iJustine and the VMAs’ Twitter-circle. This Twitter experiment is much more sucessful than last time, no?
8:06 p.m. Kermit The Frog is accompanying Lady GaGa? Maybe they will duet on “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.”
8:10 p.m. Oh look, a football-themed “refresh” of that Pepsi ad. Not that this baseball season was anything that made me happy in any way, but I always get sorta sad at the encroachment of the gridiron, because it means that I’ll start having to count down to pitchers and catchers soon.
8:11 p.m. WAIT WHY IS A FIRE TRUCK PULLING UP OUTSI— oh, it’s just Pink. Well. Whew on that one, am I right?
8:13 p.m. So now GaGa is a phantom of the opera… who’s trying to infringe on Miss Piggy’s turf… and who has an accent that can only be described as coming from the Great Nation Of Madonnania. On the bright (?) side, her breasts have yet to catch on fire.
8:17 p.m. According to Getty Images, Buzz Aldrin is here. Moonmen unite?
8:18 p.m. PROTIP: If you look behind the people talking, you can see the NFL scores! Now that’s a way to get eyeballs.
8:20 p.m. Are they seriously having Buzz Aldrin give out the Breakthrough Video award? Does this mean “indie” is officially dead?
8:21 p.m. The Breakthrough Video winners: Matt & Kim’s Naked Adventure Through Times Square. That’s one leaked winner proven correct…
8:24 p.m. An ad for the GaGa record is on now. Just in case you were wondering, in my mind, “Paparazzi” >>> “Just Dance” >>>>>> “Poker Face.” “Poker Face” is seriously the worst—moldy Peaches.
8:25 p.m. I thought GaGa was the only person who could come in via horse-drawn carriage, but I was wrong. Here’s Taylor Swift, wearing a seemingly obscene dress.
8:28 p.m. Justin “Adorable Canadian Kid” Bieber is up! With Diddy? Kid has quite the roster of babysitters.
8:31 p.m. LOVING Alicia Keys’ dress. I’m such a sucker for anything with different-sized sparkly circles on it.
8:33 p.m. Here is my Being An Old Person Confession: I thought Taylor Lautner was a character (not a cast member, a character) on Gossip Girl. Also: Female.
8:34 p.m. Two Jay-Z-related ads that are awesome: the VMA spot that I saw on MTV Jams today and the album-covers-through-time Rhapsody ad that was just on. Also awesome: Jay’s Madison Square Garden show the other night, which I will get into more deeply tomorrow.
8:36 p.m. These CBS ads could count as house ads, right? Viacom synergy and all.
8:38 p.m. And the Silly New York Entrances continue with Cobra Starship, arriving on one of those double-decker buses. Gabe Saporta is still very tall. Is it a given that Cobra would bring Fall Out Boy along on their joyride through New York City? I guess so, since he said he’d like to give Taylor Swift the tour.
8:39 p.m. Wow, MTV making a big deal about a World Premiere Video! When am I? Also, why does something tell me that the remake of “Fame” (the song) is going to be even more useless than the remake of Fame (the movie)?
8:40 p.m. “Fame (So What).” Bleh.
8:41 p.m. Yeah, I mean, if there’s a list of Things That Didn’t Need To Be Tweaked And Made More Modern, “Fame” is near the top. I know that makes me sound old, but whatever. That guitar riff is one of the most perfect in pop music, ever.
8:47 p.m. I come back from the bathroom and everything’s brighter and iJustine is using the phrase “Tweeting up a storm.” And we have crowdsourced proof (????) that Pink and Shakira are wearing the same dress.
8:50 p.m. This ad for Life After House Party is making me 100% sure that the “Kid from Kid ‘N Play is selling suits” YouTube that went viral earlier this month was a plant, as I suspected.
8:51 p.m. “How has your style evolved over the years, Jennifer Lopez?” “Well, did you ever see those Fly Girl outfits?”
8:54 p.m. Six minutes to go! I am feeling insufficiently shocked. Also my eye makeup feels kinda smeary.
8:56 p.m. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND TWEETS! It’s like billions and billions served.
8:58 p.m. And we have to rush through the Best Video From The Old Days Award! The Beastie Boys win! Who says nobody cares about the older “hipper” music fans, right? Uh…
9:00 p.m. Oh boy! Here we are! And here’s Madonna! And I’m hearing everything in double!
9:01 p.m. Madonna is doing a Lincoln/Kennedy comparison between herself and MJ.
9:01 p.m. Oh Father, Madonna is bringing up her dead mom.
9:02 p.m. Well, I’m glad I won’t have to worry about not hearing anything….
9:02 p.m. Also can I just say that Madonna should stick with the curls? Resist your stylist’s impulses to blow you out, Madge! Reisst!
9:03 p.m. Celebrities talking about being celebrities!
9:04 p.m. Celebrities talking about how being a celebrity kind of sucks!
9:05 p.m. Celebrities talking about watching other celebrities on the Internet!
9:06 p.m. Jermaine got an invite? I guess his schedule is free for a while now…
9:08 p.m. I wonder if any of these dancers were originally on “This Is It”? Also, the implication of Zombie Michaels From Different Eras is a bit strange.
9:09 p.m. Chaos in the blogger pit. ‘Twas ever thus, amirite?
9:10 p.m. This dance number is exceptionally well-put-together, I have to say.
9:11 p.m. Enter Janet, for “Scream.” I always loved the scenes of the two of them playing video games in this song’s clip—siblings!
9:12 p.m. Janet looks up at the sky, bows her head. That sent chills up the spine, I have to say. Also not to be crass—oh I mean whatever, this is the VMAs, it’s all about being crass—but I kind of hope this kick-starts her comeback.
9:13 p.m. Oh jeez. Katy Perry and Joe Perry doing “We Will Rock You”? I guess Joe needs something to do now that Steven Tyler’s out of commission, but how many cliches can you stuff into a paper bag?
9:17 p.m. Let’s see how many people Russell Brand will obviously try not to offend in his monologue!
9:18 p.m. Beyonce is sitting in front of GaGa. WHAT DOES IT MEAN
9:18 p.m. Also there have been way too many close-ups of J. Lo. Guessing there was a minimum outlined in the contract.
9:20 p.m. Taylor Swift is learning many new things this evening, udging by the way she’s giggling.
9:21 p.m. Wale takes the stage 10 minutes after he should have.
9:22 p.m. “She Wolf” > “Poker Face.” And “So What.”
9:24 p.m. Taylor Swift upset? “You Belong With Me” beats “Single Ladies.”
9:25 p.m. Kanye West runs on-stage to protest Beyonce not winning! Oh man, this just turned into an episode of Monday Night Raw, and Kanye is the heel. There’s chaos. Taylor is totally confused. The cameraman has no idea where to go. Everyone in the press room is confused. YAY KANYE
9:27 p.m. (I hope this isn’t another attempt to rekindle the whole “mad over the Justice video” thing by the producers. But the production chaos makes me think it’s legit.)
9:28 p.m. Oh and I know the trophies are the almost-least-important part of the night, but all the nominees are listed here. And the leaked winners list has pretty much been proven a fake between the Beasties/Taylor wins.
9:29 p.m. NB, my “yay Kanye” up there was just for him making everyone kind of excited. I do feel bad for Taylor tho. Couldn’t he have protested, I don’t know, the excessive Twilight fawnage?
9:31 p.m. Probably not a great idea to show a half-full crowd being unexcited.
9:32 p.m. I don’t know if they’re showing the local winners where you are right now, but the band that was just on in New York—Me Talk Pretty—was, um, a bit vocally challenged.
9:33 p.m. So, I am now sitting about 20 feet away from Madonna….
9:34 p.m. And the paparazzi are screaming, and now she is coming… closer? What? How am I supposed to concentrate on Jack Black with this chaos so close by?
9:36 p.m. She’s gone now. Meanwhile, the Best Rock Video award is being presented. I have a strong rooting interest in this category.
9:37 p.m. Green Day wins. I don’t much care for this song, and I wasn’t cheering for them, but who can begrudge them, you know?
9:38 p.m. Justin Bieber is apparently taking on the Jordin Sparks Mantle Of Holding It Down For The Kids tonight.
9:38 p.m. Pretty sure this performance was pre-taped? Earlier while scouring Flickr I saw a photo of her wearing a coat and performing—then not wearing the coat and performing—while standing outside the subway…
9:41 p.m. I’m also pretty sure that this performance is heavily sweetened.
9:43 p.m. Taylor Swift’s next record should be themed around the New York City subway. BEAT SUFJAN TO THE PUNCH, GIRL!
9:45 p.m. Oh, wait. The Flickr photo in question. Guess that was a rehearsal?
9:46 p.m. Wow, we’ve already had a run-in, a heel turn, and me engaging in Internet sleuthery! Is this the best VMAs ever or what?
9:47 p.m. (Then again, that bar is pretty low.)
9:47 p.m. (And 3oh!3′s not-subtle censorship just knocked things down a notch.)
9:48 p.m. Wentz and Gabe! Someone, please, call him.
9:50 p.m. Lady GaGa is…. Bunnicula?
9:51 p.m. Have to say, though, girl sounds good here.
9:52 p.m. Although now she’s playing the piano while spread-eagled. And now… she’s bloody? I missed just how she got that way because I was typing, so please tell me it didn’t involve a tampon.
9:53 p.m. Well, that was some ending. The bloated face was a nice touch… it was a touch, right?
9:54 p.m. The whole press room went into a groan that was almost as loud as the paparazzi’s (haha) shouts for Madonna a little while ago.
9:55 p.m. Was I the only one hoping that Britney would turn out to be the girl in the bedazzled wheelchair?
9:58 p.m. Extra-long commercial break to take us into the 10 p.m. hour is making me think that I might be grudgingly OK with GaGa. Still hate “Poker Face” a lot a lot tho.
9:59 p.m. This night has not had enough Tracy Morgan at all. Also that was quite a “special” appearance by Eminem, huh?
10:01 p.m. Hearing Russell rattle off the people who haven’t performed yet is making me wonder just what food outlets are going to be open at midnight as Monday gets ushered in.
10:02 p.m. Miranda Cosgrove is in the press room. The reception is not as excitable as it was during the last celebrity visit. Probably doesn’t need to be said, but.
10:03 p.m. Meanwhile, the Best Pop Video award goes to… Britney. Who looks sort of like Geri Haliwell backstage?
10:05 p.m. Oh hey British girl who almost knocked my table on top of me, thanks.
10:05 p.m. Here’s Green Day! Odds on them doing a medley?
10:07 p.m. Meanwhile, Pink has taken to Twitter to protest Kanye: “Kanye west is the biggest piece of shit on earth. Quote me.” OK! More: “My heart goes out to taylor swift. She is a sweet and talented girl and deserved her moment. She should know we all love her.”
10:08 p.m. Also, this Green Day song is reminding me of Ming Tea’s “At The BBC” from Austin Powers.
10:10 p.m. Oh look! Crowdsurfing! The ’90s are back again!
10:11 p.m. Someone from The Hills is getting yelled at by the photogs now. Fun fact: No male celebrities have come backstage yet.
10:13 p.m. The house band sounds pretty good. Better than “All About The Roosevelts,” for sure.
10:14 p.m. Ah, another ad for mens’ cologne that creepily fetishizes the male physique. Is this progress?
10:15 p.m. One of the photographers is clapping along with Pitbull.
10:16 p.m. Guys, if the Internet breaks for a second, it’s because of the Twilight people being on stage… and introducing the trailer for their new movie. Who said that music was a second-class citizen in pop culture, am I right?
(10:18 p.m. Apologies for the eaten posts here and there. WordPress apparently thinks I am not updating fast enough, and is saving too quickly.)
10:20 p.m. Rumors that Kanye has been removed from Radio City? Hmmm…
10:21 p.m. Here’s Beyonce, whose appearance on Friday night was way too brief. (She did about half of “Diva,” backed by like five dancers, and left.) This is a very reworked version of the “Single Ladies” bridge, which I guess is going to lead into a medley…
10:22 p.m. … or just “Single Ladies,” with iconic dance routine.
10:23 p.m. I actually was just about to type, “You know what would be great? If she got joined by a whole army of Single Ladies.” YES.
10:25 p.m. I love the metacommentary of this performance, the shout-out to all the single ladies (and single men) who danced to “Single Ladies” in their bedrooms and on YouTube.
10:26 p.m And Beyonce is followed by a too-low-mixed Solange, who gets like two “whoas” of Kings Of Leon’s “USe Somebody” before being bumped for a The Hills ad. Sigh.
10:28 p.m. So I guess Britney’s backstage acceptance speech means she won’t be making a surprise appearance? Le sigh.
10:31 p.m. Still trying to figure out why Jamie-Lynn Sigler merited a presenter nod.
10:31 p.m. Wow, the crowd booing Kanye hard. The heel turn is complete. Bet those “King Of Pop” rumors will be restarted within the next hour or so, only worse.
10:33 p.m. T.I. wins Best Male Video. “As you know, T.I. couldn’t be here tonight…” Awkward!
10:34 p.m. Alexa Chung has to insert Twilight into her Muse intro. Girl, you don’t need to SEO a live broadcast.
10:37 p.m. Muse performing. Matt Bellamy sounds pretty good, but is he going to bust into Bon Jovi a la his Guitar Hero avatar?
10:38 p.m. Remembering that the first time I heard Muse, I was in the back seat of a car that had its radio tuned to WDRE. I was being driven to Jamaica in order to pick up my wallet, which I’d dropped while running to catch a train after watching a Subway Series game. Memories!
10:39 p.m. LOOK HE CAN WALK AND PLAY GUITAR AT THE SAME TIME! But is he chewing gum?
10:40 p.m. I figured out how Eminem looks different! It’s his chin! And his friendship with Cyndi Lauper!
10:41 p.m. Green Day now in the press room. There is this one paparazzo who REALLY SHOUTS LOUD and who I KIND OF WANT TO KICK.
10:42 p.m. Rolling Stone transcribed Madonna’s speech!
10:43 p.m. Billie Joe Armstrong talking to reporters about Taylor Swift. I can half-hear everything, but I think the gist is, Taylor is young and will get through this because she’s strong, while Kanye is a whiner.
10:47 p.m. Meanwhile, Muse is still playing.
10:47 p.m. Oh, it’s time for J. Lo! And she rates a solo award presentation in which she gets to strut her hip-hop “cred.” Man, to be a fly on those negotiations’ walls…
10:49 p.m. If Asher Roth wins Best Hip-Hop Video the world is gonna end.
10:49 p.m. Oh I guess Eminem winning was a fait accompli, though. J. Lo is saying something to him, perhaps because she doesn’t want to get out of the spotlight just yet.
10:50 p.m. Em’s voice sounds a bit different. (Also, he has super-lovely eyelashes! I never noticed this. The wonders of HD.)
10:51 p.m. Not to quote a movie that’s very old in Internet time, but what variation of That Guy are you if you wear your own shirt to your performance?
10:55 p.m. The Kanye West/Joe Wilson comparisons are really lighting up the Twitter right now.
10:57 p.m. The “guess who’s back” jokes regarding Eminem’s quick reappearance on the stage must be resisted.
10:58 p.m. So Cyndi Lauper has been on 30 Rock and in a skit with Tracy Morgan… surely the two can tour together?
10:59 p.m. OK, GaGa is definitely making a tampon reference now.
10:59 p.m. And now she’s unmasked herself? I can’t tell what is going on because the photographers are freaking out over the All-American Rejects guy not wearing a shirt.
11:00 p.m. Meanwhile, continuing today’s inadvertent theme of People Making Inappropriate Outbursts, here’s Serena Williams introducing Pink’s performance of “Sober.” Which, hmm, sounded like “If I Were A Boy” in its opening moments?
11:02 p.m. Love Pink, love the swinging, but I have to admit this song is kind of a downer. (Plus the “IIWAB” comparisons are now really nagging.)
11:04 p.m. Kind of glad I missed GaGa’s dedication to “God and the gays” being followed by a cut to The Technicolor-Haired Scourge Of The Internet, because I probably would have had my own Inappropriate Outburst. And, well, yeah.
11:08 p.m. All the shoehorned-in commercial breaks are making me wonder if MTV should take a cue from soccer matches and just run the sponsors along a rail of the broadcast. It would certainly make the ads DVR-proof. (This is all contingent on whether or not MTV has this event ever again, of course.)
11:13 p.m. Beyonce wins Video Of The Year. Does this mean that Kanye is going to do an apologetic run-in?
11:14 p.m. Or maybe she’s going to have Taylor redo her acceptance speech! They’re both in red! Torches are being passed!
11:15 p.m. Thankfully GaGa has changed her full-body tampon for this special moment.
11:16 p.m. So the MJ trailer comes after the Jay-Z performance? Huh. Well, that’s neat.
11:18 p.m. The Kanye West Incident: The Inevitable Merchandising. Would be funnier if it said Kanye West DOESN’T CARE ABOUT country people, since that was the original locution. Precision is important in comedy!
11:22 p.m. Jay-Z arrives in a stretch limo. Not an SUV limo, I guess to be “green”?
11:23 p.m. This “rising from below” bit is reminding me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what. Also? This song really slays it live.
11:25 p.m. This backdrop, in case you missed the Fuse performance Friday, is the same one he uses in concert. Also the backup singer he had on Friday sounded great, to the point where I was wondering if she was actually a slyly disguised A. Keys. (She wasn’t.)
11:28 p.m. Closing out the night with a trailer? I mean, I get it’s Michael, but it just seems like MTV’s been doing a lot of looking back.
11:30 p.m. Taylor Swift is in the press room. Annoying Yelly Photog just called her “Swifty.” She has a lovely smile, and maybe I’m reading into it, but she looks a little sad?
11:32 p.m. Reporters crowding around Taylor as she describes what happened. She was excited that Kanye was there… oh man, she’s describing this as it’s being shown on the TVs. Entire dissertations could be written about this moment!