What do you get when you pack a New York City pier with more than nine of the biggest names in the music industry, indie darlings, Internet stars, and rowdy fans? Chaos, obviously. Now add in some acclaimed directors and a bunch of fancy-pants camera equipment with various sets to the mix, and you've got yourself a haphazardly charismatic visual fete. Or, something simply known as the YouTube Music Awards.
Under the creative direction of Spike Jonze, Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts paraded around various stages for 90 minutes. It was, to say the least, an exhausting endeavor that delivered exactly what it promised: unscripted one-take music videos sprinkled with some awards on the side. We mean that in the best way possible. The DIY aesthetic stayed true to YouTube's roots, and with all the awkwardness and seemingly unrehearsed acts aside, the whole production felt endearingly raw. Perhaps it was a different experience streaming it to your laptop, but from our post in the middle of the open-floor plan set, it was a whirlwind of musical genres and personalities. From Arcade Fire's Greta Gerwig music video to Gaga's stripped-down piano balled to M.I.A.'s tour de force Holi dust spectacle, YouTube nailed it.
As far as the winners go, well, they were there. Unfortunately, the entire reason for actually having all these artists together in the first place was put to the back burner. At the same time, however, don't we all really just watch awards shows like the Grammys and VMAs for the performances, anyway? To have an entire audience, including thousands of viewers across the globe, participate in the creation of music videos is something that hasn't been done, and for that YouTube should be applauded. It might not have been earth-shattering, but it moved just enough ground to reconsider the role award shows play in media today. And, if anything, it cemented YouTube as the new home of the music video — a crown once belonging to MTV when it played, you know, actual music.