“I was kind of surprised,” admits Gold Derby contributor Charles Bright about Beyonce‘s sweep of the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. He thought she would win “four or five” prizes, but she ended up winning eight, including six for “Formation” (Video of the Year, Pop Video, Direction, Art Direction, Choreography, Cinematography), one for “Hold Up” (Female Video) and one for her entire visual album “Lemonade” (Breakthrough Long Form Video). Watch complete our discussion of the VMAs above.
Beyonce’s dominance tied her with Lady Gaga for the most VMA victories for a female artist in a single night, and it moved Queen Bey ahead of Madonna as the most awarded artist in VMA history. She has now won 24 times. But Beyonce’s triumph meant an unexpected shut-out for her chief rival, Adele, who we predicted would win four of her eight nominations, but she ended up with zero. She was out of luck in the main fan-voted awards (she has never won one), and despite the impressive production values of her video “Hello” she was blanked in the professional categories too.
Bright and I also discuss the show itself. “It felt like it was trying to force everything that’s youth culture down my throat,” says Bright. “It was hit-and-miss for me.” But one of the hits was Rihanna, whom we both admired during her four medley performances of a total of 13 of her hit songs — though not, curiously, her VMA-winning breakthrough “Umbrella.” However, her repeated performances throughout the show “almost made it feel like they were having her sing for her supper,” says Bright, noting that she didn’t receive her honorary Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award until after her last performance at the end of the night.
Neither of us were impressed by the performance of Britney Spears, which was promoted as a long-awaited comeback following her much-maligned appearance at the 2007 VMAs. Unfortunately, her rendition of her latest single “Make Me” was hampered by lackluster guest rapper G-Eazy and cruelly disadvantaged by having to immediately follow Beyonce’s showstopping 15-minute “Lemonade” medley.
Finally we addressed Kanye West, who premiered a bizarre, provocative new video, “Fade,” but first spoke at length about following in the footsteps of moguls Henry Ford, Walt Disney and Bill Gates. Despite all his bluster, Bright gives him credit: “It seems like he was having much more fun with it this year [than last year during his Video Vanguard acceptance speech] … I still don’t know what to make of half the stuff he says anymore — just drop another album because I’ll buy it.”