Last year was so much fun, we're doing it again... live blogging the 2008 VMAs. The show is hosted by Russell Brand. God knows why they chose him, but we can talk more about that later...
So, the pre-show is underway. I don't know who these people with the microphones are, except for country teen queen Taylor Swift, who is inexplicably providing fashion critiques. She says of T.I., "You are classing up the VMAs." T.I. says he'll be performing tonight with Rihanna, which is good to know since I haven't yet checked the list of performers.
MTV's Sway is in a helicopter over Hollywood, for no apparent reason. He's interviewing Katy Perry, who is slated to perform "Like a Virgin" tonight, which I think is stupid. That's already been done twice in VMA history. She claims to have a "special guest" in tow. I hope it's Marilyn Manson.
German band Tokio Hotel arrive on the red carpet in a monster truck. This makes no sense at all since frontman Bill Kaulitz is quite possibly the most feminine male rock star in history. Perhaps they're purposely trying to confuse people. They are interviewed by John Norris, making his first appearance of the evening. As I noted last year, I greatly enjoy his presence since it gives the show at least a shred of journalistic credibility.
Rapper T-Pain arrives on an elephant. Word.
Taylor Swift is interviewing Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. A faux-beef develops, since all three are up for Best New Artist. Taylor deserves the award, but I'm betting Miley wins it. I don't care about any of these people, I just want Miley's brother Trace to show up. Katy says she is resigned to losing and will make a moonman out of tin foil.
Kid Rock and Michael Phelps arrive together for a joint interview with Norris. What's up with that?
Sway interviews the Jonas Brothers. I've never heard any of their music. I guess tonight will be my indoctrination.
Sway asks Paris Hilton, "What does BFF stand for?" This man is out of touch - get him off MTV!
It's a Slipknot sighting! The band appears on the red carpet in their masks, interviewed by some supermodel. This sight is freaky and bizarre. It's the highlight of the evening so far.
A pregnant Ashlee Simpson shows up. How did she choose her outfit? "You gotta pick the ones that don't stick to your belly," she tells Taylor.
Paramore arrive in two smart cars. Says one anonymous male band member, "Everyone's rolling in Escalades, we were like, dude, we're just gonna go in smart cars!"
Following an unfunny skit with Jonah Hill, Britney Spears appears for the much-ballyhooed show opening. She's wearing a tight dress and looks great. All she does is introduce the opening performance. That was it?
Rihanna appears with a Pink-esque mohawk and a bunch of dancers in tight leather. She performs a rocked-out version of "Disturbia." I think Rihanna is a lot more quirky and strange than we thought. Awesome.
Host Russell Brand comes out. "I happen to know you don't know who I am," he says. "Let me assure you I am famous in the United Kingdom. My persona don't really work without fame. Without fame, this haircut could be mistaken for mental illness."
He riffs on American politics, talking about the father of Bristol Palin's unborn child: "One minute he's having fun in Alaska, having unprotected sex, the next minute he's off to the Republican convention! That is the best safe sex message of all time."
Jamie Foxx presents the first award. Best Female Video goes to Britney Spears for "Piece of Me." I can't determine whether this is justified, because I've never seen any of the nominees - it's impossible to find music videos these days, unless you scour YouTube. Brit gives a low-key speech, thanking "My two beautiful boys, for inspiring me every day."
For some reason, they're giving down-to-the-minute teasers. Katy Perry will be performing in 13 minutes. The Jonas Brothers will appear in 9 minutes. Set your watches!
Russell Brand is very likable so far. His nervous energy is endearing, and he's telling funny jokes about the artists without being mean or catty. What a novel idea! After every performance, he says "Fantastic, that was great!" in totally unironic fashion. Russell introduces Demi Moore, who presents Best Male Video to Chris Brown.
Taylor Swift introduces the Jonas Brothers. OMG! They are performing on a set that looks like the steps from Sesame Street. Is Big Bird gonna come out? I'm rooting for Oscar the Grouch. They are playing some acoustic number which is evidently called "Love Bug."
My curious friend Robin asks a truly deep question: "What if you were the ugliest Jonas brother?"
Katy Perry is playing "Like a Virgin," but they only show about 30 seconds of it. I'm confused. That was the performance we've been hearing about all week?
Michael Phelps is on stage and he could not be more monotone and boring. He introduces Lil Wayne, Leona Lewis and T-Pain. We're not very impressed with their performance. And as Robin notes, Lil Wayne isn't even that small. "Lil Wayne, you're too big to be Lil Wayne."
The award for Best Dancing in a Video goes to the Pussycat Dolls. Snooze. At least it gives us a chance to see Nicole Scherzinger, hottest female in the world.
Paramore perform live from the Whiskey-a-go-go across the street. They play their hit "Misery Business." Hayley Williams is sporting bright red hair and banana pants.
Best Rock Video goes to Linkin Park's "Shadow of the Day". Slash laughs loudly as he announces them. Was he laughing at them?
Finally, something worth watching - P!nk performs her bitchin' new single "So What" on a soundstage with city buildings in the background. She angrily breaks windows, then removes her blue dress to reveal a form-fitting leather getup, cut so low that we can see her taped nipples. A great performance. There's nothing more exciting in pop music than an angry P!nk.
In a stroke of genius, MTV invited Slipknot to present Best Hip Hop Video. It goes to Lil Wayne's "Lollipop."
Responding to Brand's jokes about the Jonas Brothers' promise rings, Jordin Sparks lashes out, in a friendly way: "It's not bad to wear promise rings because not every guy or girl wants to be a slut." Snap! The first friction of the evening. I wonder if Brand will respond.
T.I. performs, and Rihanna is back to sing with him. This is sketchy. Having an artist perform twice is the telltale sign of really lousy awards shows. I'll let it slide this time, because I like Rihanna.
It's Christina Aguilera, who is amazingly the grizzled veteran of this year's VMAs. She's playing her new single "Keeps Getting Better," with a group of dancers dressed in suits and carrying briefcases. It's different, that's for sure. This is the first time I've heard the new song and I'm digging it.
"What a wonderful performance, well done Christina," Brand says. He offers a (sorta) sincere apology for insulting promise rings. "I don't want to piss off teenage fans. Quite the opposite. And by opposite, I don't mean that I want to piss on teenage fans. That got me in trouble before..." They cut to a crowd shot of the Jonas Brothers, who seem either supremely pissed or just plain uncomfortable. There is no way their mom will let them go to the VMAs ever again.
LezLo presents the moonman for Best New Artist to Tokio Hotel. This is no surprise, since the award was voted on by fans, and their teenage fans were the most likely to participate in the text messaging voting process. "I can't describe it in any words, what we are feeling now," mumbles Kaulitz.
Paris Hilton presents Best Pop Video to Britney Spears. I was hoping the Jonas Brothers would win - I want to see one of them cuss out Russell Brand! Anything to liven up the show. Britney thanks her fans and family. "Did she give the same speech twice?," Robin accurately asks.
Holy crap, I just realized the show is almost over! You don't see two-hour award shows these days. This one has flown by - not because it's been particularly entertaining, but more because the show has had an ADD vibe. I'm still flummoxed by Katy Perry's 30-second "Like a Virgin" performance. Somebody has some explaining to do.
Kid Rock plays "All Summer Long," the new song that I'm liking way more than I'd like to admit. It's the "Werewolves in London" sample - it's irresistible.
Kobe Bryant gives Video of the Year to Britney Spears. I think MTV gave all the awards to Britney tonight because they want her to come back, and they want to singlehandedly take credit for her resurrection. It's kinda shady, if you ask me. To her credit, Britney appears totally mature, happy, and in control.
After vowing last year to never appear on the VMAs again, Kanye West is back to close the show, playing a new song. It's a love song with marching band drums and slight vocal distortion. I can't describe it well, but I like it.
"What a wonderful evening it's been," exclaims Russell Brand. This wasn't a particularly memorable VMAs, but Brand was outstanding. I've read a bunch of reviews that say he sucked. Rubbish - he was the highlight of the evening.
"This is the launch of a new Britney Spears era," says Brand. "Consider this the resurrection of Britney Spears!" Bingo! I nailed it.
Brand leaves us with this nugget of knowledge: "I've decided to take up chastity now, because I've been inspired."