After an online voting session lasting a couple of weeks, the nominees for this year's Video of the Year award at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards were announced recently. In response to this paltry shortlist, I mourned the state of the music video. These were seriously the five best videos of the year? I realize that by opening up the voting to the general public is the cause of this travesty, but they can't be blamed entirely. Where are the Missy Elliott or Outkast videos which are always innovative? Where's Pink and the videos from M!ssundaztood or another White Stripes' "Fell in Love With a Girl"? Hell, where are the Eminem videos that, repetitive as they are, were always funny and relentless in their skewering of the pop culture of the time? Let's go through these nominees and then I'll let you know who I think should have been nominated.
Chris Brown "Forever"
I've never understood the appeal of Chris Brown and this video does nothing for me. The dancing is nice, but the CGI effects are as corny and ugly looking as that black shit in Madonna's "4 Minutes" video. I've certainly seen worse videos than "Forever"; I just wish there was something more here to get excited about.
Jonas Brothers "Burnin' Up"
The concept behind the Jonas Brothers' "Burnin' Up" is so corny and so overdone (it was done much better in the Beastie Boys' "Sabatage") that I can hardly sit through it. Add to that the saccharine lyrics and whiny lead vocals and I'm ready to throw my computer through the window. I guess this nomination is the obligatory teen girl Backstreet Boys/*NSYNC nomination that we saw between 1999 and 2002 (Can anyone truly say that "I Want It That Way" was one of the best videos of 1999 except for the thousands of girls who loved it?).
Pussycat Dolls "When I Grow Up"
I have mixed feelings about this song: the opening is truly epic, but that chorus is complete and utter garbage ("When I grow up, I wanna have boobies." Are you fucking kidding me?). The video is a vast improvement over the song, I'll give it that, and the dancing is technically amazing. In comparison with "Buttons" however, their other video in which they stood around strutting and dancing, it's minor PCD.
Britney Spears "Piece of Me" (watch here)
I couldn't embed the video here, so head on over to Youtube to check it out. I love the song and am glad people are all for her comeback as much as I am. It's just that after "...Baby One More Time," "Oops! I Did It Again," "I'm a Slave 4 U," and "Toxic," all iconic music videos in their own ways, it would be a shame if she won for this personality-free clip. Britney was still in the midst of her breakdown when she shot this, so there's very little dancing to speak of and she spends most of the time just standing around, pushing her hair behind her ear. With such an angry and indicting song against the paparazzi, the video is surprisingly timid.
The Ting Tings "Shut Up and Let Me Go"
Technically, it's the most creative of the five and the one I would want to watch more than a couple of times. But it's no "Fell in Love With a Girl" and the song gets kinda annoying after awhile.
Will Win: I'm going to go with "Piece of Me" simply because Britney's never won a VMA in her long career and MTV will want to make amends for last year's performance.
Should Win: If it was by song, "Piece of Me" by a long mile. However, since it's for the complete video, I guess I'll go with "Shut Up and Let Me Go" for its interesting visual choices.
My Picks for Video of the Year:
Danity Kane "Damaged"
Duffy "Warwick Avenue"
Girls Aloud "Sexy! No No No..."
Janet Jackson "Feedback"
Sneaky Sound System "Kansas City"
To me, these five nominees have both interesting videos and hot songs. It may seem like the Girls Aloud and Danity Kane videos are nothing more than PCD's "When I Grow Up" video, but I think the songs are a lot better and the dancing/posing is 100 times more original. Plus, the Danity Kane video has cheesy CGI effects yet doesn't treat them as anything more than eye candy (rather than force us to take them seriously). "Disturbia" is seriously one of the most fucked up videos I've ever seen and I love it. Janet's "Feedback" gets its spot solely for it being the strangest video I've seen all year. Nothing about it makes sense individually (what the hell is with that ball of light?) but all together, it reaches visual harmony. Originally, I had forgotten about Sneaky Sound System's Team America-inspired "Kansas City" clip but when I finally remembered what a fantastic video it is I knew I just had to add it in. And, finally, Duffy's "Warwick Avenue" video does nothing but focus on her face, but what a lovely and expressive face it is.
My favorite: Strangely enough, I'm going to go with "Feedback" for being the craziest non-Missy Elliott video ever.