Pump don't work 'cause vandals took the handles.

The production design for the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards rendered New York City’s Radio City Music Hall as a gilded and enormous VIP room, complete with burnished handrails, lacquered black walkways, top shelf lighting systems, and elegant carpet remnants stolen from Versailles or somewhere. It looked like Jay-Z’s veranda crossed with The Cell. But even though Radio City’s capacity is around 6000 — that’s a pretty huge VIP room — apparently the only people who actually attended the event were J, his girl B, Kanye, BEP, Shakira, The All American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, Paris, Jessica, Christina, JT, ringleader Jack Black, and the Raconteurs, who served as house band. As category after meaningless category scrolled loudly across the screen, it was these same five or six nominees and the same clips of their videos that I’ve never actually seen on MTV. Next year the network should let YouTube broadcast the VMAs, since that’s where we all watch videos, anyways. Proof of that came with OK Go’s eager yet schmaltzy live rendition of their treadmill bit for "Here it Goes Again."

(Watching the boys’ performance on television from a Toronto basement, Steven Page spit his Grilled Stuft Burrito all over the ottoman and kicked over his Jones Soda in the process. “Barenaked Ladies danced on MTV’s Spring Break ten years ago, and now we’re laughing stocks!” he screamed, and his mother woke up with a start at the other end of the couch. Page's fourthmeal was decidely over.) With MTV free of being a marketing platform for third quarter music sales, it could instead bring us an awards show based entirely on its original programming. Personally I’d like to see a lifetime achievement award bestowed upon whoever that douche is who hosts “Road Rules/Real World Challenge: The Gauntlet.” I’ve never watched that show, but it’s evidently some sort of programming anchor for the network, and he seems to endure a boatload of bickering.

The Raconteurs probably had the right idea. As weird as it was watching Jack White play Kevin Eubanks to Jack Black’s Jay Leno, the band probably worked the most face time out of the event, which is all it’s really for, anyway. Single debuters Justin, Beyoncé, and Christina were relegated to grandiose, yet brief in comparison set pieces, while White, Brendan Benson, and those two dudes from the Greenhornes squeezed in excerpts of most of the material on the Raconteurs’ debut, had their moniker displayed in story-high lettering each time the show came back from break, AND managed to jam with both Lou Reed and Billy Gibbons. (On “White Light/White Heat” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” respectively.) If you replace the remainder of the VMA’s with all the time you spend at a show pissing, getting beers, and chatting up the ladies, it’s almost like you saw an entire Raconteurs concert. Jack White: marketing genius.

As for everything else, who knows. Every year I watch the VMA’s, and the next day I write something about how it’s all so soulless and worthless and sad, the aggregate buildup of another year’s promotional slush fund. And every year the VIP club gets a little smaller, stalwarts like Diddy and Hova throwing bones to this year’s flame, whether it’s T.I. and his admirably huge neon ego (“K I N G,” the million watt bulbs spelled out) or those tophatted Baz Luhrmann fetish infants in Panic! At the Disco. It’s not like we can wish for substance out of MTV, not after 25 years of the network systematically snipping that away. So all we can hope for is an entertaining moment or two, and this year those moments go to Pink. In her few seconds of screen time she parodied Jessica Simpson and Paris with acerbic glee, paid a backhanded compliment to her record label for supporting (read: not supporting) her most recent album (instead of promoting her next project like everyone else at the VMAs does), AND flirted with Lou Reed while conveying that she knew who he was without simply pointing at him dumbly and saying “Lou Reed” over and over, like the dude from AAR, or whichever band it was that won the award. Pink is the fucking best.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be watching the new season of “Laguna Beach” all weekend. Team Tessa is forming now!


Pink lays it down:

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