First Ever Youtube Music Awards Were Messy

Director Spike Jonez and NYU student Bianca Valle at the Youtube Music Awards. Photo B. Valle

Director Spike Jonez and NYU student Bianca Valle at the Youtube Music Awards. Photo B. Valle

Frankly, the ‘messy show’ director Spike Jonze promised to deliver to mark the first ever Youtube Music Video Awards live stream  was 90 minutes too long.

I wonder what company owner Google thinks about the cost of financing this debacle?

Considering I  was one of only 250,000 plus viewers  (it peaked at just over 300,000 for a short time according to the on screen counter) who managed to hang on through the multiple streaming freezes and technical difficulties the inaugural video channel’s awards show suffered is pitiful — a number of cat videos garner this many views in a single day.

But don’t take my word for it. The YTMA show didn’t just look slapped together on your computer monitor.


The Youtube generation literally sitting on the floor at Pier 39 in New York  City where the awards were held will tell you the same thing.

“That was crazy” remarked Bianca Valle, a Film and TV student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, about the unscripted show after she spent the better part of Sunday rehearsing under director Spike Jonze’s  guidance.

Hundreds of fans who attended the show were part of live videos filmed during the inaugural Youtube Awards show.  Valle was there with a crew of New York University students who participated as audience members during the live cybercast.

Arcade Fire, M.I.A. and Tyler The Creator were among the performers who had rehearsals during the time Youtube live streamed pre-award show celebrations taking place in Brazil and London hours before the New York show started.

Regardless of these big-name musicians, the unstructured nature of the YTMA looked like an attempt to resemble the  spontaneous nature of the videos that populate the film site, which is a primary source of entertainment for the Millennial generation.

It was evident the production of this show was not entirely thought out and steered clear of the traditional award show sequences, even though there’s no denying there was plenty of creative talent to tap into to put this show together.

Jonez is married to Sofia Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman (who admitted he’d never hosted anything in his life before this awards show) is Coppola’s cousin.

Perhaps a pow-wow with the enormous talent and the brains behind the show had at their disposal to create something memorable, didn’t take place?

We’ll never know.

It rather seems that the directives of this Youtube show left the conceptualizing to their kids; finger paint, chalk, and babies were ill-used and unfortunately reminded us more of a Nickelodeon show than one targeting a more grown-up audience.

On the other hand, the star power Youtbue assembled for this awards show was impressive.

Lady Gaga performed an overly melancholic number (she cried while she sang and played the piano) and was practically unrecognizable.

“She was on stage playing the piano and singing with a flannel and no pants on,” said Valle in an interview for NYU Local the university’s digital publication.

Never the less, the award winners were the true representations of the spirit of Youtube: low production, low budget, and high popularity since the votes were cast by fans. See the complete list of winners here.

Having a bunch of young adults in the audience for the inaugural Youtube awards show made sense, especially making them part of the history this show intended to create right before their eyes.

After all,  the majority of those present were born and bred fans of the video channel, and likely don’t let a day go by without a daily dose of Youtube slap stick or raw talent (must I mention Justin Beiber?).

Having Spike Jonez helm this show was clever  as well. His successful film, “Where The Wild Things Are,” struck a chord with the hipster demo targeted by Youtube.

And the fact that Spike Jonze organized the chaos that was the YTMA speaks volumes about the potential of future Youtube awards shows.

However, with this 2013 cyber-experiment out of the way, the focus should be on next year’s event because there’s so much room for improvement  for Youtube to showcase and reward the talent this site effortlessly captures.

Moving on. Let’s simply rewind this video and make believe this didn’t really happen.


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