Boy, that was a strange awards show, wasn’t it? Very choppy and inconsistent, right? The 2013 MTV Video Music Awards were all over the place — the same stage that saw a couple gay rights speeches and Kanye West performing in front of a lynching tree also gave us Miley Cyrus poking a giant foam finger into Robin Thicke‘s genitals, so yeah, it was that kind of night.
Of course, such a schizophrenic broadcast led to some great moments and some rather forgettable ones. Which is perfect if you’re the type of outlet that was already planning to do a list of the best and worst things about the 2013 VMAs. So below, we’ve rounded up the 10 highlights and lowlights of the broadcast. HOWEVER! Before we start, we want to give special distinction to that Miley/Robin spectacle. We quite honestly don’t know if it fits in the Best or Worst category. We don’t know if it was sexy or off-putting. We don’t know if it marked the beginning or end of a Moment in pop culture. But we do know that we’re not the only ones still trying to process what we saw.
BEST VMAS MOMENTS:
1. The Justin Timberlake Show
Jimmy Fallon dubbed him the President of Pop, and JT certainly didn’t shirk his duties. Dude has hits on hits on hits, and he performed chunks of them all with no breaks in between, and still had room to squeeze in his four *NSYNC compatriots for a couple tidbits of “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye.” Anyone who thinks pop stars don’t work hard for their money (Rihanna not included) just needed to see JT gasping for air by the end of the medley.
2. Katy Perry’s Rope-a-Dope
Speaking of pop stars putting in the sweat, Perry melded performance with actual exercise for her boxing themed “Roar” set. Yes, the motivational poster lyrics didn’t need such an overly literal visual interpretation, but somehow seeing her do those boxing dance moves and jumping actual rope during the song, we bought into it. Have you ever jumped rope? It’s exhausting!
3. Lady Gaga Living For The Stage
Gaga’s “Applause” performance was a clever homage to the theater world with which she is infatuated, and it also hit the nostalgia sweet spot thanks to her older costumes. Can you be nostalgic for something that isn’t even five years old? Apparently so. And it was a risky move considering so many fans want her to return to those earlier years. But when she stormed out wearing the mermaid bikini, we think it signaled that this new iteration of Gaga will be just fine.
4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Preach With Jennifer Hudson
We were very, very grateful that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ditched the cheery party boy rap for the contemplative “Same Love.” Their ode to gay rights was handled beautifully, with Jennifer Hudson lending her gorgeous vocals to the sweet song. Loved.
5. Jimmy Fallon Geeking Out
Fallon totally stanned when his friend Justin Timberlake finished that 15-minute medley. And amidst all the rambunctious praise, he still had the presence of mind to remind people about “Dick In A Box,” too. Dude’s a pro.
WORST VMAS MOMENTS:
1. The Tin Can Audio
Why did Kanye and JT’s performances sound like they were recorded from a Talkboy on the Barclays Center floor? No seriously, why? At first, during Ye’s song, we thought the crackly fuzz and trebly mix was part of the brittle Yeezus aesthetic. Nope! It happened during Timberlake’s ENTIRE career retrospective as well. Good news though — the audio is screwed up on the online streams, too! Are we dicks for thinking someone at MTV should be fired over this?
2. So Daft Punk Showed Up Just To Wave?
We don’t know if we have Stephen Colbert to blame for this, but what a letdown. The French duo was on hand in robot formal garb with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. But instead of busting out “Get Lucky” they just stood there in silence.
3. A$AP Rocky Pimps His Bro’s Album After Jason Collins’ Speech
We love A$AP Rocky, and he’s clearly one of hip-hop’s biggest supporters of gay rights. But, yuck. So he’s on stage with NBA player Jason Collins, the league’s first openly gay player, who is recounting his decision to come out and preaching equality. Once it’s Rocky’s turn to talk, before responding to Collins’ heartfelt speech and showing solidarity, he first throws in a plug for A$AP Ferg‘s Trap Lord.
4. One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” Wins Song Of The Summer
“Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines” “Blurred Lines.”
Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” Wins Best Female Video.
Not to get all Kanye-in-2009 on you, but Taylor Swift‘s “I Knew You Were Trouble” winning Best Female Video is a travesty. Not that it wasn’t the best of the category (“We Can’t Stop” is the only other one in the discussion), but let’s end the charade! We all know Lana Del Rey‘s “Ride” did it first! That fact should make everyone involved in this win feel dirty.