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  • YouTube Music Awards 2013
Win Butler, Reggie Watts, Jason Schwartzman

After an ambitious and awkward 90-minute production, the inaugural YouTube Music Awards have disappeared into a cloud of blue chalk dust. The ceremony, streamed live from a warehouse in New York, attempted to capture the madcap spirit of early MTV and only occasionally succeeded — and if success means a lot of eyeballs on the broadcast, this was a total faceplant; the live stream never went past about 215,000 people at a time, according to Variety. But this is YouTube, the format that has done more than maybe even DVR to normalize the highlights-only, morning-after viewing experience. Those who did tune in witnessed many forehead-slap-inducing moments — anybody up for a surprise Michael Cera appearance? No? — but there was also magic in the air when they turned incredibly talented, creative people loose.

About that magic: Here’s a list of the 10 best moments from this “festival of excitement.”

10. “An Abridged History Of Music On YouTube”

This was some corny awards show shit, so it feels odd recognizing it as one of the show’s best moments, but I’m a sucker for medleys when they’re done right. I’m definitely a sucker for live mashups and multiple people playing one guitar at the same time, both of which Walk Off The Earth delivered during this number’s midsection when they mixed Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen and Rebecca Black together. Also a sucker for T-Pain, and there he was, belting out the big finish of “I’m On A Boat” amidst the chaos.

09. Host Jam Sessions

Intermittently, hosts Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts would grab some musical equipment and indulge in a jam session. Although none of these interludes yielded exceptional music, it was one of the format twists that could actually work really well going forward, especially when violinist Lindsey Stirling — perhaps even more of a theater kid than Lady Gaga — inevitably hosts this thing next year. (Her bubbly personality, though sometimes cloying, was a lot more enjoyable than watching her traipse around with a jetpack.)

08. Girls’ Generation Wins Video Of The Year

Apparently Stereogum’s Tom Breihan isn’t the only one out there riding for K-pop because Korean lady squad Girls’ Generation took home the Video Of The Year award over stiff competition including Miley Cyrus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj, and, um, Epic Rap Battles Of History. Gotta love an upset, especially when you don’t have a horse in the race.

07. Macklemore Thanks His Mushroom Dealer

After Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (rightfully) won the YouTube Breakthrough award, Schwartzman and Watts shuffled over to the rapper and producer carrying some babies Rashida Jones had handed them for some reason. What followed was some strange hybrid between an interview and an acceptance speech. Macklemore’s repeated jokes about the babies fell flat, but his list of thank-yous was appealingly odd: “I just want to thank my elementary school Tops in Seattle, my parents, my fiancee, and the person that used to sell me shrooms when I was a teenager. I love you all.”

06. Golfwang Wilds Out In Hot Pink

In his Wolf Haley guise, Tyler, The Creator directed himself and Earl Sweatshirt performing Doris track “Sasquatch” for a room full of raging fans inside a hot pink box. It recaptured the energy of those early Odd Future shows and had Earl a lot more jacked up than he was at SXSW. Tyler has always been at his best when he’s keeping things minimal (see: the “Yonkers” video), and this was no exception.

05. Win Butler Crashes Taylor Swift’s Acceptance Speech

Taylor Swift wasn’t around to accept her YouTube Phenomenon award, so some all-girl group that covered “I Knew You Were Trouble” on YouTube accepted on her behalf. Everything was going smoothly until Win Butler busted in wearing a Ramones T-shirt to parody Kanye’s infamous stage-crashing from the ’09 VMAs. “Not Taylor Swift, I’m a let you finish,” Butler began. “Not Taylor Swift, the YouTube Phenomenon Of The Year was definitely the ’Harlem Shake,’ I don’t know. No disrespect, but everyone knows that if you’ve ever even been on YouTube, so whatever.”

04. M.I.A.’s Psychedelic Dance Party

For her Fafi-directed “Come Walk With Me” Video, M.I.A. performed underneath a series of neon arcs creative director Spike Jonze described as “a psychedelic mirror box” during the preshow. It was definitely a trip, and it added a needed dash of weirdness to a broadcast that often served up that counterfeit weirdness known as “awkwardness.”

03. The Introductory Segment With The Artists All Standing Together

There was something really exciting about seeing Tyler, The Creator, M.I.A., Avicii, and others all huddled together in the same place. We all know these people run into each other backstage at these events, but it was fun to see that happening out in front of us.

02. Greta Gerwig Dances It Out To “Afterlife”/”We Love You, Lou.”

As if “Afterlife” wasn’t already a pure tingles moment, how about Greta Gerwig ecstatically flailing through an apartment building, then an enchanted forest, then with a group of young girls, all while Arcade Fire rocked it out? This was the first performance of the night, and it was all downhill from there, except

1. Lena Dunham’s Choose Your Own Adventure Avicii Video

An Avicii video might not sound like much fun, but what about an Avicii video written by Lena Dunham, directed by Spike Jonze and Chris Milk, starring Michael Shannon (as an especially douchey Avicii), Dree Hemingway, Nick Lashaway, and Vanessa Hudgens, that climaxed in a choose-your-own-adventure scenario in which the audience gets to decide if the budding romance leads to a lifetime of happiness or suicide? There weren’t that many moments when the YouTube Music Awards seemed innovative or thrilling, but this thing, which played like an especially batshit episode of Girls, was hilarious and touching and all-around wonderful. Kudos to all involved — especially Avicii, who allowed himself to be called “a huge douche” in his own music video.



Video Of The Year:
Epic Rap Battles Of History – “Barack Obama Vs Mitt Romney”
Demi Lovato – “Heart Attack”
Girls’ Generation ­- “I Got A Boy” (winner)
Justin Bieber (Feat. Nicki Minaj) – “Beauty And A Beat”
Lady Gaga ­- “Applause”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Feat. Mary Lambert) – “Same Love”
Miley Cyrus ­ – “We Can’t Stop”
One Direction ­- “Best Song Ever”
PSY ­- “Gentleman”
Selena Gomez ­- “Come & Get It”

Artist Of The Year:
Eminem (winner)
Epic Rap Battles
Justin Bieber
Katy Perry
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Nicki Minaj
One Direction
Taylor Swift

Response Of The Year:
Boyce Avenue (Feat. Fifth Harmony) ­- “Mirrors
Jayesslee ­- “Gangnam Style”
Lindsey Stirling And Pentatonix ­- “Radioactive” (winner)
ThePianoGuys ­- “Titanium / Pavane”
Walk Off The Earth (Feat. KRNFX) – “I Knew You Were Trouble”

YouTube Phenomenon:
“Gangnam Style”
“Harlem Shake”
“I Knew You Were Trouble” (winner)
“Thrift Shop”

YouTube Breakthrough:
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (winner)
Naughty Boy

Innovation Of The Year:
Anamanaguchi ­- “ENDLESS FANTASY”
Atoms For Peace ­- “Ingenue”
Bat For Lashes ­- “Lilies”
DeStorm ­- “See Me Standing” (winner)
Toro Y Moi – “Say That”

Comments (37)
  1. How do you say “cringe-worthy” in French?

  2. Was entirely surprised at how much I enjoyed this, especially after all that negative hype.

    Went in expecting to laugh at hipster bait, but totally fell for it all. LD’s Choose Your Own… was seriously a surreal couple of moments particularly when Schwartzman stepped in.

    Was not expecting a totally 3-dimensional spectacle like that. All the acts together was a great note too. Made the whole thing cozy and big at the same time.

  3. Im just waiting for everyone to jump back on the Lady Gaga bandwagon. That performance was fucking awesome as was that song.

  4. This was so fucking unfunny and ERGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
    HHHHHHHHHHHHH, it made me hate everything about music right now.

    I like Arcade Fire, but that live video was so shmaltzy. Can we fucking stop dancing and doing choreographed sequences already?

    Winye was a dead punchline before he even took the mic.

    Lena Dunham is a cancer to pop culture. Her anti-image is actually reinforcing a false image to young men and women, in that you don’t have to look like what the magazines and media tell you to look like — But guess what? You’ve become that commercialized image yourself with your stupid “edgy” fake hipster TV show! Go jump into a JCPenney catalog — The imperfect person is just as marketable as the perfect person.

    The media’s version of Brooklyn culture just fucking sucks and needs to be done with already. Someone should have bulldozed whatever venue it took place in and took out all of the indie and pop punchlines in one shot.

    • I bet you hate cake and babies and pillows.

    • Are you always on your period or something?

      I bet you hate cake and babies and pillows.

      • For the most part, yes. There’s more that I dislike about things going on in life than things I do like, and when i do like things, barely anybody else feels the same way, so I never get a chance to share my joy.

    • o look at me double posting.

    • Michael, after all these years (this is my 3rd handle) I still find myself being blindsided week after week by what a crazy asshole you are. Aside from when you go off the deep end once or twice a year, you are speaking the truth! I couldn’t agree more with this comment, sans the proposed mass murder.

      • I should state that it’s never fun or to be hypercritical and negative about going ons in the music world or elsewhere. I run a site now that only focuses solely on covering music from a positive perspective, which means not bothering to pan albums I didn’t enjoy or writing track reviews about how a band is no longer meeting expectations with their new material. I did so upon realizing that if you remove the bad out of the equation, you’re left with more free time on your hands.

        It’s very tough. I’m not sure if I would want to be me these days because I wonder if maybe there is just something wrong with my personality or interests that can’t be fixed and it prohibits me from connecting with others. Lately I’ve been realizing hat I unintentionally don’t share the same feelings about even things beyond music and it’s made me feel very alien. For example, where I live is heavily invested in sports culture, and it’s been a celebratory past few weeks that I don’t share the same sentiments in because I’m both not the hugest sports fan (although, I wouldn’t go as far to say I “hate” sports.) That goes for other interests such as massively popular TV shows I don’t have time for or others’ idea of going out on the weekend being that of consuming large amounts of alcohol. When you feel “left out” of something you don’t want to force yourself to be part of, you want to offer a differing opinion, which often is a critical one. “Crazy asshole” is a harsh way of putting it.

        • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Says the guy who makes up inflammatory slanderous statements about my perception of women and homosexuals.

            I also am a millennial, and not just by barely making the cut by a year or something weak either. It’s not impossible for people to criticize those within their own age bracket and it’s been going on since the beginning of time.

            I do hate Bob Dylan, though

          • Also if you say one more time that I have an ignorant, wrong opinion about women or homosexuals, I’ll be contacting Stereogum to retrieve your personal data so that I can carry out litigation for publicly slandering my name, my brand and possibly causing a loss of wages and employment opportunities down the road.

            Oblivious to you, but we have a law where I live that carries over into the public forum on the Internet that if someone writes something that is not true and damaging to their reputation over the course of multiple instances, legal action can be taken. It actually just happened where a local high school coach was painted as a pedophile by a former player’s older brother who was stationed overseas, and he won the case. You labeling me as a misogynist and homophobic would certainly warrant these charged. I would choose your words very carefully when addressing me.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • “If someone has intentionally or negligently posted a negative lie about you or presented information in a way that leaves a false impression on a website or social network like facebook, google+, twitter or other network you may be able to sue them for damages to your reputation. This is also true is someone merely repeated or re-tweeted the lie.

            In Massachusetts, the elements of a defamation claim are:

            – A false and defamatory communication
            – of and concerning the plaintiff which is
            – published or shown to a third party

            In Massachusetts, you know must also show fault, i.e. that the publication was at least negligent if not intentional. Written defamation is libel and when it could damage the plaintiff’s reputation in the community by accusing them of a crime (even an uncharged crime), having a loathsome disease (including most sexually transmitted diseases) or presents the plaintiff in a light that suggests he or she is unprofessional or unethical in business, the libel may be actionable per se, which means plaintiffs do not need to plead or prove economic losses in order towin.

            The statute of limitations for defamation in Massachusetts is (3) years. Massachusetts, however, has adopted the single publication rule, defining publication as the time when a work is “first made widely available to the public”. See Abate v. Maine Antique Digest, 17 Mass. L. Rep. 288 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2004).

            Online attacks may also be actionable under the Massachusetts anti-bullying statute.

            If you have been defamed, whether with slander (oral defamation) or libel (written defamation), you may be able to recover money for the damage to your reputation.”

            I don’t think a scub bag millennial like yourself who throws around reckless, irresponsible lies on the Internet because they think they’re invincible and protected knows the severe consequences that are to be had with actions like yours. We don’t fuck around in the Baystate. That’s why we’re World Series champs.

          • Yeah, you should definitely get my personal information from Stereogum and then sue me. I’ve read through your post and it is clear that this is the correct course of action.

          • Realistically, that would be a huge waste of everyone’s time and money, but I would appreciate it if you weren’t so flagrant, false accusatory and bothersome to me. Downvote or just ignore me, but please do not spread irreparable lies or take my words out of context about what I believe to paint me in a negative light. I have a very, very, very low threshold for what constitutes as “cyber bullying.”

          • You’re not being bullied. I’m telling you the impression I get of you based on the extremely negative and trollish rants you post on this site almost daily.

          • Like I’ve said before, I am going to be dead soon, so none of that should be of any bother to you. Leave me alone and let me sink into my grave as I wish.

        • You also need to get a better grip on the definition of “troll.” An opinion on a musician or awards show or what have you that differs from yours does not equate to being a “troll.” It equates to an opinion that is different than yours, be it negative or not.

          How small is your cock? It must be really small.

          • (Please don’t actually tell me how you anatomically measure out. I only state that question because crusades like yours are no more redeeming than that of juvenile-minded persons who look at commenting as a life and death matter that will be determined through a virtual penis measuring contest.)

          • threatens to sue for damage to reputation
            uses anonymous online username

            something doesn’t make sense here.

    • OK, about the suicide threats, there are two possibilities here from the perspective of other people on this site.

      The first is that you’re serious. If you are serious than that’s a real shame and you should get help from professionals, because nobody on this site is equipped to help you deal with any of those problems.

      The other possibility is that you keep mentioning it after your rants in a petty attempt to garner sympathy. If that’s the case, then it’s a terrible thing to do, because it belittles the problems of people who are actually suicidal.

      I don’t know which is true, but you do, so please choose the appropriate response.

      • I will be perfectly frank in that I’ve been considering ending my life sometime early next year. My unhappiness with how I have felt “stuck” and unable to change anything in my life despite my best attempts to while focusing my energy on positive distractions has been stated time and time again. I really did think that after four years of working to make a positive change, something would happen, but it isn’t and I don’t know why. So, last year on my birthday, I made a pact with myself that if nothing changed for the better by the time my next birthday came along, I would end my life because I am not seeing the point in continuing to be stagnant, feeling outside of myself and merely existing to no purpose to anyone else in life. I’ve researched the possibilities. Carbon monoxide poisoning seems like a peaceful way to go. I’m not goading sympathy, but I do have a problem with being honest even when my honesty isn’t entirely something others will like to hear. I would hate me, too, for that.

        • Well then that is terrible.

        • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • Michael, please get help. I can’t read something like this and not feel desperate in some way for you. Stereogum mods, Scott, please take note of this guy’s suicidal plea. I know this is a blog and I understand that its not the ”real world” so to speak, but write this guy or do whatever can/should be done. Michael, please get help. There is hope.

        • Might I just say that I’ve been off and on reading the comments section for a couple of years here and that as much as your online presence is so god awful pessimistic and hate-filled I’m glad that there’s a definite consistency to your profile. Like, I never reply to you because I don’t want to be up all night building text walls validating subjectivities, but if I knew you in person I bet it’d be rather refreshing to argue with you candidly over the oh so “shmaltzy” Youtube Music Awards. You have a knack for hating things I like and it’s actually pretty cool to know where the other side lies. You speak your mind in (looooooong) sensical(most times) posts and I really couldn’t appreciate a commenter more for that.

          I mean honestly, I wouldn’t miss you TOO much if you killed yourself, but I would be upset that I don’t know any immediate chaotic good trolls like you in my area, on or offline.

          As much a torture as you probably already are to yourself, I’d just like to say in my own selfishness,

          Never change michael, never change. You’re a prince among men.

          • You have an incredibly flippant jackass approach to someone in mental anguish. God forbid that ship ever sailed your way. Then we could all parade it and mock you for it, you insensitive twit.

  5. Visited this article with merely a passing interest but was horrified at the Lady GaGa’s ”character” and pleasantly surprised to see James Murphy attending the awards.

  6. I watched the first 20 minutes of this and it was more awkward than I am.

  7. Greta Gerwig dancing on Afterlife with kids jumping like school is over, Win Butler mocking Kanye, Odd Future playing in a fake tiny club, Lena Dunham writing an Avicii video that looks just like a classic Girls episode (whinning egotistical unemployed middle class people).

    God, is it a crime if I use the word “hipster party” this time ? Cause I got nothing better.

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