The MTV VMAs, 2011

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BLACK AND YELLOW GUCCI GUCCI LOUIS LOUIS FENDI FENDI PRADA!!!1!  YO! MTV gives out VMAs!!

Seriously, this is one of my favorite award shows, if only because it is consistently bonkers.  I mean, most of the time it’s only bonkers in an over-produced, manufactured MTV type of way, but it’s still sort of fun if you don’t think too much about it, I think?  And every once in a while something that’s actually bizarre happens.  I was actually starting to get excited about this earlier today until I remembered that Chelsea Handler was the host [Edit: Wrong.].  UGH THAT DOUBLE UGH.

Anywayz, my wife Johanna and I will be competing in another of our CLASSIC winner-picking competitions.  Luckily, there are only like eight categories tonight (at least on our ballot), so this should be easy enough.  Johanna is also, as usual, in charge of our themed beverage for the evening.  I’ve been singing (rapping?) Kreayshawn all day long, so she’s calling tonight’s drink the “Gucci Gucci.”  We don’t have any Adderall to grind up and put in a beverage, so she’s making a variant of a Cuba Libre because, in her words, “it’s something a trashy girl would drink.”  After her first sip she added, “I’ll only be having one of these.”

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Let’s get going.  Categories and winners in bold.  And if Kanye does anything crazy, it’ll be in bold and also, like, 20 pt font.

9:35 – Hey, guess what!?  Time Warner Cable is the worst!  The tech they use is ridiculously out-of-date and barely functions, and it decided this evening to not record the first 35 minutes of this show!  Now I’m going to use that 35 minutes of my life that they saved me tweeting at them about how horrible they are.

I suppose this means I missed the opening performance (Lady Gaga, I think?), so that’s too bad, but this also means that I have to hear Chelsea Handler talk less, so, win some lose some, I guess?  [Edit: Wrong.]  Oh, well.  Deep breaths, Jared;  it’s just the VMAs.  This will all be online later anyways.

Johanna is hopping on to MTV.com to see the results of any categories that we missed.  Let’s check in.

Best Video with a Message: We both went with Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and it wins.  1-1.

Best Pop Video:  Johanna went with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and I went with Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, because we had both forgotten that it was 2002.  Since it is 2002, though, Britney Spears wins with “Till the World Ends”.

Best Rock Video: I went with Foster the People here because I have never heard of them before.  Johanna remembered that it was 2002 this time, so she went with Foo Fighters, who win.  2-1 her.

All right, let’s rejoin our regularly scheduled programming.

9:35 – Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and Seth Rogen are here reprising their roles as the Beastie Boys from this thing:

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The MTV VMAs, 2010

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The VMAs!  I actually didn’t watch them live last year and then regretted it when I ended up spending the next afternoon catching up on the videos of the bonkers performances online and reading all about the Kanye backlash.  I was assuming that MTV and I had mostly diverged in our musical tastes and was overlooking the fact that this isn’t really about the awards, it’s about the spectacle.

Now, with the long-running award show winner-picking competition between Johanna and me, there’s absolutely no way I could miss it.  Filling out our ballots proved relatively difficult.  We both employed a strategy of spreading the awards around to as many artists as possible, because we figure the whole thing is rigged and MTV is going to want to get as many people as possible up on stage.  So, I basically just picked randomly.

Let’s roll.  Since this is the VMAs, Johanna has tried to mix us a cocktail that a young person might enjoy.  She’s combined vanilla vodka with Diet Coke, and we’re drinking it out of glasses we appropriated from our favorite bar in college, Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap.  She initially wanted to call it the Sorority Slut, but we workshopped it and came up with the Mean Girl, which is more fittingly high school.  As always, categories and winners in bold.  Also, I unfortunately don’t have MTV in HD, so these photos look awful.  Apologies.

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One last thing.  I’m going on record early here saying that I guarantee they have Taylor Swift “interrupt” Kanye’s performance.  It’s going to be awesome.

8:19 – I have the pre-show white carpet on in the background (yes, white carpet), and all of the sudden Sway starts giving out awards!  WTF?!

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Songs, 1990-1999

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This list has been the hardest to compile so far by a wide margin, for several reasons.  When the 1990s began, I was seven years old, and the music I was most familiar with was the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack that my dad was always playing and the Super Mario Bros. theme song.  By the time they ended, I was seventeen, had gone through about ten favorite bands, and was eagerly anticipating the release of the new Radiohead album.  It’s hard to rank songs from a time period when I was so many different people.

Also, I could never really decide if I wanted this to be a list of songs that I loved at the time, or songs that I really love now.  In the end, it’s a little bit of both, and sort of suffers because of that.  There are songs on here that I don’t even have in my music collection anymore, and also songs that I never really listened to until five years ago.

But the real reason this was so difficult is that I’m absolutely sure that I’m forgetting things.  I have a pretty good grasp on music from the 2000s, and didn’t really feel like I was leaving anything major out.  This time I feel like there could possibly be a song out there that I might have put in my top ten that I didn’t even think of.  Let me know if you see any glaring omissions.

So, all that said, here are my ninety favorite songs of the nineties:

90) Kris Kross – “Jump” (1992)

An appropriate song to start things off.  This isn’t the oldest song on this list, but it might be the oldest song here of which I was a huge fan from day one.  I spent about six months of my ninth year listening to my Totally Krossed Out cassette non-stop on my Walkman.

89) Cornershop – “Brimful of Asha” (1997)

This song, and this entire album, really, is such a weird blip on the nineties pop scene.  Making this list made it clear to me that while music was much better in the 2000s, it was quirkier and seemed to take more risks in the 1990s.  I was introduced to the song, and the band, when this video appeared on the short-lived MTV show 12 Angry Viewers.

88) Coolio – “Gangsta’s Paradise (feat L.V.)” (1995)

Johanna said this had to be on the list, and I suppose she’s right.  I loved it at the time, obviously, but don’t have much to say about it now, so instead let me just suggest that all of you go Google the lyrics to another single off of this album “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New).”  Johanna and I had each other in hysterics talking about them.

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The Grammys, 2010

Last year was the first time in forever that I actually watched the Grammys.  I was drawn in by the commercials advertising the killer lineup of performances, and it pretty much lived up to the hype.  It was worth sitting through the whole show just to see Radiohead play with the USC marching band. Plus, there was all the Rihanna/Chris Brown drama to follow.

This year I don’t think I saw a single commercial for it.  So that doesn’t bode well.  Plus, I printed out the ballot, and it is just ridiculously bad.  I’ll discuss in detail as we slog through this train wreck, but it almost seems like they are trying to piss people off with their nominees.

Anyway, Johanna and I will be competing again in a winner picking game.  As usual, I pick who I think is going to win, not who should win (in a lot of these categories, none of the nominees deserve to win).  Out of principle, I did not just pick Taylor Swift in every category, even though she’ll probably sweep the night.  I did, however, pick a Marley in two separate categories.  Let’s get it started.  Categories and winners in bold.

8:01 – “Oh Jesus,” says Johanna as Lady Gaga kicks off the night.  This is a little too Broadway for my tastes, but God bless her.  She looks like a character from Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland. I should also say here that I’m really surprised that they didn’t start with some Michael Jackson thing.  I guess MTV stole their thunder.

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8:04 – “Everybody’s going googoo for Gaga,” says the weird emcee.  And now here she comes on some weird double piano with Sir Elton John.  WTF is going on right now?  This is like if Disney Imagineers were trying to show me what an acid trip would be like.  Again, God bless her.  She is talented.  She deserves to win in all four categories in which she’s nominated tonight, but I doubt that will happen.

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Songs, 2000-2009

I debated how to best represent the decade in music in list form.  Eventually, I decided on songs over albums; it seemed more fitting in the era of iTunes.

This list shows that my musical tastes, like my politics, are pretty middle-of-the-road. I like the most mainstream and accessible indie rock and I’m a sucker for the occasional pop song.

I should also point out that I think this might be longer than anything I wrote in college.  It’s entirely possible that the length of this will make it completely unreadable.  But whatever, brevity has never been my strong suit.  Here they are, my 150 favorite songs of the decade (music videos when I was able to easily find one that I liked that allowed embedding):

150) Cannibal Ox – “Iron Galaxy” (2001)

This album has such a singular sound that it’s weird hearing Vast Aire rapping over any other production.  I think that’s why I could never really get into Look Mom…No Hands.  The Vast Aire verse at the end of this song is sort of the end of the golden age of underground hip hop for me, a topic that will definitely be more thoroughly discussed if I ever do a list of my favorite songs of the 90s.

149) Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – “Johnny Appleseed” (2001)

The best part of John from Cincinnati.  Almost makes me want to check out the rest of Joe Strummer’s post-Clash career.

148) Air – “Universal Traveller” (2004)

The only song from Talkie Walkie that holds up for me.  Really the only Air song that I listen to on a regular basis.  Pops up on the occasional Rick Steves podcast, so that’s a plus.

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