For an awards show that has taken steps in recent years to de-emphasize gender — retiring the Best Male and Best Female categories, rebranding its signature astronaut-inspired trophy as a Moonperson — the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were practically split in a guys’ portion and a ladies’ portion, with a string of male performers warming up the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled it.
The 35th iteration of the show, which returned to Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, kicked off with not a bang but something more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a rain-soaked performance of “In My Blood.” Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of national-TV exposure as he followed up with “Beautiful,” his second performance in the evening following a bout during the pre-show not long before. Logic, with the help of Ryan Tedder, aimed for yet another statement-making moment with a performance addressing U.S. immigration policy. And then Panic! at the Disco made a stylish and energetic performance that began suspended in the air. The performances were solid, sure, but at times they didn’t feel any more vital to the show than presenters’ bits and banter, or some of the evening’s early acceptance speeches.
You also may notice that all of those performers have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to get to a performance by a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of several Push Artist of the Year nominees who were given brief time slots — and even smaller stages — to introduce themselves to a larger audience. (One highlight? Hayley Kiyoko, the category’s ultimate winner, who breezed through an abridged version of her song “Curious” after charming the red carpet with shout-outs to her #20GAYTEEN slogan.) And it wasn’t until Nicki Minaj performed a medley of songs from her Queen album in a pre-taped, remote segment that it felt like the VMAs truly got started.
That’s no shade to Mendes by any means — it’s just that, when you think of classic VMAs moments and performances, you probably don’t think of young instrument-playing pop-rock artists showing off their musical chops and credibility. You think of the spectacle, which is what Minaj delivered with her phalynx of dancers and monarch-inspired attire from New York’s Oculus transportation hub. Minaj’s pal and frequent collaborator Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set, recreating an all-female version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that turned the VMAs stage into a living music video during “God Is a Woman,” from her just-released Sweetener LP.
And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would be this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, many on the Internet seemed more concerned with crying justice for Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicably persistent rumors about the honor that she felt compelled to shoot down the chatter on Twitter. But as the first Latinx recipient of the video Vanguard Award — and during a year in which MTV introduced a Best Latin category — Lopez’s latest accolade isn’t insignificant. And in her first VMAs performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a career-spanning medley that served the choreography you expected and the impressive live vocals you probably didn’t.
The only part of Lopez’s crowning moment that felt off was the person who introduced her and handed her the award: Shawn Mendes, whose connection to her as an artist is… well, what exactly? It was hardly the only odd-couple pairing of the evening: Producers shoe-horned in a tribute to Aretha Franklin by having Madonna come out and monologue about what Franklin meant to her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul beyond their shared Detroit roots — in typically wry fashion, Madonna shared a story about how singing Aretha Franklin helped her make an impression at an audition that set her career in motion. But the optics weren’t great, considering Madonna’s award-show history of delivering occasionally self-centered homages to black legends, and indeed, most of her tribute to Franklin was spent celebrating her own tenacity during her early days as a starving artist.
It wasn’t hard to figure out what Madonna’s original primary purpose was: handing out the video of the year award, which went to Camila Cabello for “Havana.” The singer was hardly the frontrunner in the category, which saw her go up against Childish Gambino’s much-dissected “This Is America” clip and the private Louvre party that was the Carters’ “Apeshit” — competitors who also weren’t in attendance.
But as surprising as it may have been, viewing the win as an at-large endorsement for Cabello is consistent with the show’s waning emphasis on actual music videos. That’s a perennial MTV complaint, sure, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: Last year, the show introduced the artist of the year award, and the song of the year award followed this year — two star-studded categories whose nominees aren’t attached to particular videos. And the most teased and hyped award of the night wasn’t video of the year, either — it was best new artist, which came down to Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, in what was no great shock to anyone given her unstoppable year, went to Cardi.
By the time Cabello won the evening’s big honor (her second award of the night), the show had returned to a male-performances-only third act with mixed results. Travis Scott’s tech-heavy Astroworld medley never quite found its footing, while a sponsored Lauv performance that played during a commercial break after the Madonna-Cabello segment was jarringly anticlimactic. (A Madonna monologue is a tough act to follow for anyone, let alone a still-rising artist fulfilling a brand partnership.) The home stretch wasn’t without bright spots, including Aerosmith — who, despite all the head-scratching news of their performance probably inspired, pulled off a lively grand finale by teaming up with Post Malone for a ripping rendition of “Toys in the Attic.” Still, when it came to this year’s oddly segregated run of show, it’s clear that — to paraphrase the song Grande performed — the women were the deities.
Keyshia Cole’s Mom, Frankie Lons, Has Passed Away
Frankie Lons, the vibrant mother of singer Keyshia Cole, who became a popular figure after appearing on Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is in 2006, has passed away.
News of her death surfaced on Monday morning (July 19). Cole’s younger sister, Elite, who appeared on The Way It Is as well, confirmed the sad news. She took to her InstaStories to write, “Worse pain ever….to see my mama in a body bag on her birthday! My heart so f–kin broke.”
According to Cole’s brother Sam, said Lons relapsed and overdosed at her home on Sunday while celebrating her birthday.
Last year, Cole shared that Lons, who struggled with drugs off and on, checked into rehab and in February would have been there for 30 days. She was hopeful that her mom would finally be able to stay sober and be as healthy as possible for her children.
“Do you believe in the power of love?” she wrote alongside a photo of her next to her mom.”What about lack thereof? 50/50 There’s strength in knowing there’s something or someone you can always lean back on. Someone to catch u when u fall. I’ve been being strong for you, hoping I’ll get a chance to feel that feeling from you.”
Cole and her older sister, Neffeteria, haven’t spoken publicly on the news. During Cole’s latest reality series on BET, Keyshia Cole My New Life in 2019, the singer and Lons had a conversation about the possibility of her not being around, which Cole said, understandably, alarmed her.
“Some things happen out there in the streets and it scares a child, the thought,” Cole said.
“One day chicken the next day feathers. If I die today you’re going to move on and you’ve got to make it. You’ve got to live for Keyshia,” Lons replied. “You have to live for you and your family not nobody else. You don’t have to do nothin’ but die and pay taxes, but you have to move on if anything happens to me. At the end of the day you’ll see me later. Up there.”
She added, “I’m a be always where you can find me. Even when God calls me. A mother’s love will always protect you.”
Spike Lee Apologizes After Accidentally Announcing Top Cannes Prize Winner at Start of Show
“It took a lot of suspense out of the night I understand, it wasn’t on purpose,” said the director.
As with most awards ceremonies, the Cannes Film Festival likes to build up to the winner of its biggest award, the Palme d’Or winner. Alas, that wasn’t to be the case with Spike Lee on hand.
“I have no excuses,” Lee, this year’s jury president, said in a press conference. “I messed up.”
He then tried to make a sports analogy to compare his slip to, adding, “I’m a big sports fan. It’s like the guy at the end of the game in the foul line, he misses a free throw, or a guy misses a kick.”
Others might compare it to the 2017 Oscars when “La La Land” was erroneously announced as best picture over the actual winner, “Moonlight.” At least in this case, Lee only killed the suspense and announced the winner early, rather than assemble the wrong cast and crew on the stage only to send them off and replace them.
Maybe it was a language mix-up, or Spike just misunderstood her use of “first prize” in French to refer to the top prize of the night, rather than the first prize to be presented on the night, for Best Actor (Caleb Landry Jones, “Nitram”).
Instead, though, Lee quickly blurted out that Julia Ducournau’s “Titane” had picked up the Palme d’Or, to the shock and horror of his fellow panelists.
Hilariously, Spike almost did it again (though everyone already knew the winner thanks to his first flub).
Taking to the stage at the proper time for announcing the Palme winner, he said, “In 63 years of life I’ve learned that people get a second chance, this is my second chance. I apologize for messing up. It took a lot of suspense out of the night I understand, it wasn’t on purpose.”
But then he almost announced the winner again before the evening’s hostess, French actress Doria Tillier, evening stopped him so that Sharon Stone could come out and do what she was there to do … announce the Palme d’Or winner … that everyone already knew.
Perhaps Lee was just excited that Ducournau is only the second female — and first solo female — in history to win the honor, coming 28 years after the win for “The Piano” and Jane Campion. That year, she shared top honors with Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine.”
Lee said that the organization took the error well, telling him to “forget about it.” He later joked about it, talking about what an honor it was to be on the jury. “This year, especially, after COVID-19. This is historic. Besides me f—— up, this is historic.”
You can check out the complete list of winners below:
Palme d’Or: “Titane,” Julia Ducournau
Grand Prix: “A Hero,” Asghar Farhadi & “Compartment No. 6,” Juho Kuosmanen
Best Director: Leos Carax, “Annette”
Best Actress: Renate Reinsve, “The Worst Person in the World”
Best Actor: Caleb Landry Jones, “Nitram”
Jury Prize: “Memoria,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul & “Ahed’s Knee,” Nadav Lapid
Best Screenplay: “Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Camera d’Or: “Murina,” Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Palme d’Or, Short Film: “All the Crows in the World (Tian Xai Wu Ya),” Tang Yi
Special Mention: “Ceu de Agosto,” Jasmin Tenucci
Honorary Award: Marco Bellocchio
Tennis Player Coco Gauff Tests Positive For COVID-19, Will Not Attend Olympics
17-year-old tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff was slated to be on the U.S. tennis team at the upcoming Olympic Games, but has withdrawn after testing positive for COVID-19.
She broke the news via social media.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she wrote in a note. “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.” At #25, Gauff is the youngest player with a Women’s Tennis Association ranking in the top 100 .
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At 15, Gauff shocked the sports world when she beat tennis icon Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2019. She then bested Williams again during her Australian Open debut in January 2020 and defeated Naomi Osaka at the same event.
Gauff finished her statement by wishing all of her fellow athletes well. “I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe game for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”