Last night, YouTube live-streamed its first-ever music awards show to millions of viewers, and it was bizarre to say the least–though I guess that’s what happens when you produce a live event. The whole thing felt like an independent, artsy event that was sloppily thrown together by a bunch of hipsters, where the winners were chosen by fans and received Play Buttons instead of trophies (see the picture above). Jason Schwartzmann and Reggie Watts were the awkward hosts of the event, which took place at New York City’s Pier 36. As always, the performances were the best part of the show—and YouTube was sure to give them an interesting twist: each performance was shot as a music video by Spike Jonze, who’s known for his directorial work in both music videos (Beastie Boys’ Sabotage and, most famously, Wax’s Southern California) and films (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are, and Adaptation). Arcade Fire opened the show with a strange, Glee-like production of Afterlife; Tyler, the Creator’s performance basically turned into a mosh pit; viral sensation Lindsey Stirling soared through the air during an awesome performance of Crystallize; Lady Gaga played piano, sang about Dope, and sobbed on camera; and Eminem closed the show with a simple performance of Rap God that left you wondering whether the man has any lungs.
As for the winners? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won “Breakthrough of the Year”, which they most definitely deserved. Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble was named “YouTube Phenomenon,” though I really don’t understand why. The video only has 145 million views, while Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball (which has been out for a much shorter time period) has already racked up about 290 million views. “Response of the Year” went to Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix’s cover of Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive (a solid song, but it doesn’t touch the original). Girl Generation won for “Video of the Year” for the awesome production of I Got a Boy. And finally, Eminem was crowned YouTube’s very first “Artist of the Year,” somehow trumping heavyweights like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and One Direction.
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