The American Music Awards aired last night. It was every bit the waste of time that you'd expect from a ceremony that, like the Billboard Music Awards, gives out trophies based on sales and presence (airplay, streaming, social networks, etc.) but fosters the illusion that it is awarding its already awarded stars based on merit (whatever that is). Notable moments included:
- Stevie Wonder rocking sunglasses that looked like they were rimmed with purple rock candy and saying, "See ya!" at the end of his Dick Clark tribute.
- Justin Bieber dedicating his first trophy (Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist) to his haters and then during his Artist of the Year acceptance speech, whining, "It's hard growing up with everything going on, with everyone watching me," like we were supposed to feel bad for the beloved, trophy-holding millionaire.
- Nicki Minaj seeming to have confused her "barbz" for barbiturates and sleepwalking through two acceptance speeches. She also performed a song about her personal liberation amongst fake snow and a gospel choir with not even a wink as to how ridiculous the whole thing was. Pure camp.
- "Gangnam Style" showing its ass as a result of a has been, Hammer, coming in and making it cooler.
So yes, it was a waste of time, but at least it was an entertaining waste of time. The height of absurdity came when Elisha Cuthbert and Kelly Rowland presented the award for Favorite Electronic Dance Music and explained EDM like this:
Cuthbert: EDM! It's the hottest new thing in music! If you're wondering what EDM stands for, it means electronic dance music.
Rowland: Now this is a brand new category recognizing this increasingly important genre of music.
It's so out of touch, it's as though we were watching the Grammys. They sounded like kindergarten teachers talking to us like we're puppies while saying precisely nothing. Maybe in 1977, upon the release of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," electronic dance music was the hottest new thing in music. That is always the thing to think about when we think about EDM. And look, they're being connotative and talking about the specific current style of drop-based music that has made dance music the essential cultural force that it hasn't been since disco. Fine. That, too, has been happening for years and years at this point but the American mainstream is remedial when it comes dance music. Fine. The American Music Awards are about commercial performance and dance music performs — it makes sense that they'd honor it. It also makes sense that they'd do so while sounding as stupid as possible.
Whatever, at least in 10, 20 years when people want to know how EDM was regarded by the mainstream, we'll have this infomercial to laugh at.