Monday, 4 November 2013

Did K-Pop Win At The YouTube Music Awards?

Tonight (3 November, I find myself writing this now at 2am, after the show finished after midnight here in the UK) saw the first ever YouTube Music Awards ceremony take place. The event was streamed live on YouTube, and was presented by Hollywood actor / musician Jason Schwartzman and comedian / musician Reggie Watts. The ceremony itself was largely unscripted and improvised, and featured live performances by Arcade Fire, Walk Off The Earth, Lady Gaga, Avicii, M.I.A., and Eminem.

Over the last few weeks, YouTube viewers have been voting by posting and sharing the official video links of their favourite nominees to Twitter, Google+, and Facebook; the more shares each nominee got, and for every subsequent share, the more votes the respective videos accumulated.

As I wrote in my previous "K-Pop At The YouTube Music Awards" blog post, we had seen that K-Pop had made quite an impact over the last year, and in doing so had made an appearance among the nominees in four of the six categories.

Both PSY and Girls' Generation were up for the Video of the Year award, with "Gentleman" and "I Got A Boy" respectively. PSY was also in the running for the Artist of the Year award, and his song "Gangnam Style" was nominated for the YouTube Phenomenon award.

"Gangnam Style" was also featured in the Response of the Year award, for Jayesslee's acoustic cover version.


Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won the YouTube Breakthrough award, beating Kendrick Lamar, Naughty Boy, Passenger, and Rudimental.

Winners of the Response of the Year award, were Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix with their video for their version of "Radioactive". Commiserations to Jayesslee and their version of "Gangnam Style". The other artists in the category were Boyce Avenue (ft. Fifth Harmony), ThePianoGuys, and Walk Off the Earth, ft. KRNFX.

DeStorm won in the Innovation of the Year category for "See Me Standing", accumulating more votes than Anamanaguchi, Atoms for Peace, Bat for Lashes, and Toro Y Moi.

Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" won the YouTube Phenomenon award. Unlucky for PSY, who was unable to repeat the ridiculous number of views his "Gangnam Style" video has racked up. Other nominees in the category were Rihanna's "Diamonds", "Harlem Shake", and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop".

Next up was Video of the Year. A big congratulations goes to Girls' Generation, who won with the video of their hit "I Got A Boy". The group has gained a massive worldwide following on the internet, as well as huge success in Asia, and their win tonight is testament to that. They managed to get more votes than some of the more established fellow nominees (in the West), including Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Epic Rap Battles Of History, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, One Direction, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and PSY.

Last of all was Artist of the Year, and despite being nominated in three of the categories, PSY was unable to win in this one either. That honour went to rap star Eminem, who went on to perform live, which was captured in another of Spike Jonze's live music videos. The other artists up for this award were Epic Rap Battles of History, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift.

From what I've read online, reaction to the show seems to have been more negative than positive (no surprises there!), with a lot of viewers complaining that the whole thing looked cheap and disorganised, and not much love going to the hosts either. I for one quite liked the chaotic nature of the event, and thought it quite charming, although a little spit and polish might have improved things. The fact that it was improvised and unscripted gave the event a welcome unpredictable quality, which I hope will change the way some awards ceremonies are made. I've become quite tired of award shows as a whole, and I think the YTMA's have breathed a little fresh air into the mix. Having said that, a little more sheen wouldn't have gone amiss.

In my opinion, yes, things were slightly shambolic, and didn't seem to be as organised as some of the other big glittering awards ceremonies that take place, and with Spike Jonze directing the whole affair, it wasn't surprising to see the likes of Jason Schwarzman co-hosting, and appearances by indie acting talents Greta Gerwig and Michael Cera.

The event also had Jonze directing special live music videos throughout the night, of each live performance. These were also interspersed with some quite strange improvised musical performances by Schwartzman (drums) and Watts (synths & mic). Obviously this wasn't meant to be serious, and provided interesting, if not terribly tuneful introductions to the proceedings.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, although I think there are a whole lot more deserving artists who could have been nominated, but then most of these music awards seem to love the same artists and bands. At least the YTMA's have included a couple of K-Pop artists, and hopefully will lead to further exposure in the West of this popular genre.

What did you make of the awards? Did the right people win? Are there any other artists that you would have liked to have seen nominated or win? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

On that note, I'll leave you with the YTMA's sole K-Pop winner, Girls' Generation, and their video of the year, "I Got A Boy", followed by Tiffany and her acceptance speech.

Image credit: Header - Official YouTube Facebook Page

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