Last night in New York City, YouTube held its inaugural YouTube Music Awards. Directed by Spike Jonze, the overall idea around performances from the likes of Lady Gaga and Eminem was that they wouldn’t simply be the standard, but live music videos. Along with that, came off-the-cuff hosting by actor Jason Schwartzman and co-host Reggie Watts. Those things and the overall uncertain precision that comes along with holding an event that big for the first time made for an fascinating cocktail of screwy moments.
Here are some of the odd occurrences, weird highlights and other things this spectator noticed at the YouTube Music Awards -- starring Arcade Fire, Eminem and more. Bless its crazy little heart.
The Loose, Zany Feel
Awards shows usually feel heavily programmed. The YouTube Awards took pride in the fact there may be (and eventually, were) moments where the train went off the rails. “Anything can happen,” said Schwartzman. “There’s no script.” On his end, he was likely telling the complete truth. There were plenty of random moments—dead microphones, crying infants (more on that later), crowd herding and more. Sure, it was a mess at times. But it was fun. Fans in attendance had no clue where to stand or rest. At any moment following one performance, you could be sent to one of the other three stages. It was like being at a festival, but not having a map or schedule. Exciting, to say the least.
So yeah, it was cool to be kept on your toes, but after 45 minutes of confusion, it kind of gets annoying as a fan. One second you’re watching Arcade Fire rock, and then you’ve got to scurry along to the next set. Who’s performing there? That’s anybody’s guess right up until they hit the stage. But in the meantime, producers and set crew members yell “Move back three steps!” For every moment that an attendee felt like they were a part of a innovating, cool video, they were also made to feel like a helpless extra.
Odd Future’s Fun House
Screwball rap collective Odd Future made their performance more intimate (and as usual, crazier) than any other’s. Prior to their set, member Taco came out of a smallish room to scout fans that would eventually be invited inside to go nuts with the group inside. When it was time to go live, about 100 fans crammed into the box to see Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and the rest go ham while their special guests moshed. At the end, Tyler walked out, stood on a rail and yelled, in his gnarly, gruff voice, “Golf Wang!” It’s an inside joke. Odd Future’s full name is Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. He switches the G and W just for the high randomness factor. And if you don’t get the humor in that, whatever.
Eminem's Awesome, Simple "Rap God" Performance
While every other act had an elaborate stage setup, Eminem’s was all white and no frills. Instead, it was the closer’s raw intensity that carried his showing. That’s one guy that doesn’t need a prop to get his point across.
Also, I’m not saying the fight is fixed. But how and why, exactly, did Em’ win Artist of the Year? His album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” comes out tomorrow (Nov. 5) and up until maybe two months ago, he was relatively silent. He beat out Justin Bieber and PSY, whose “Gangnam Style” now has nearly 2 billion views. Someone explain, please.
Macklemore’s Acceptance Speech
When Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won the award for YouTube Breakthrough, host Jason Schwartzmann and co-host Reggie Watts were inexplicably holding infant babies received from actress Rashida Jones. As they cried during Macklemore’s acceptance speech, the rapper joked, "I can't believe we won these kids, man. I've always wanted a kid, without having to actually have sex." He also thanked someone who used to sell him mushrooms back in the day. Crazy stuff.
Win Butler Kanyes Taylor Swift (Who Was Not in Attendance)
Taylor Swift won the YouTube Phenomenon award for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Cool, right? Not to Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler, who jokingly came out in Kanye mode—grabbing a microphone and proclaiming that Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” should have won the award. However, instead of being funny, it was mostly just awkward.