MTV’s Video Music Awards killed the alternative star

Did the 2014 VMAs mark the end of diversity in music genres?


Daniel D'Auria

Green Day kicks off their US tour in 2010 at Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey.

Casey Metcalf, Staff Writer

Green Day, Ludacris, and 50 Cent. The Killers, Shakira and My Chemical Romance. What do all of these bands have in common? They all performed during the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards just nine years ago.

Try this list on for size: Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Usher, Beyonce and Taylor Swift. So what’s the difference? I am going to bring up a word you’ve heard beaten to death – diversity. For the most part, this is only one genre. Before you say it – yes, I understand that award shows are meant to showcase mainly what people are listening to right now. The artists shown are supposed to be the focal point of pop culture, featuring musicians that are relevant. I understand this completely, and this shouldn’t be any other way. I would agree that a VMA show featuring people no one has ever heard of would be pretty boring, and even worse for ratings than “Teen Mom” is.

But the idea that not only the live performances, but the nominations are completely dominated by this one singular genre of music is crazy. Only nine years ago there was a melting pot of different genres and music styles. Green Day performed before Shakira, Paramore performed after Usher. Now the performances are clouded by a never-ending haze of people posing as musicians rapping about nothing, proving that profanities do in fact rhyme with other profanities (and sexual innuendos too).

Take a look at Nicki Minaj, who performed not once, but twice at the VMAs this year. She took the stage the first time with her song, “Anaconda,” which I could quite possibly write an entire article about on its own. I would write some of the lyrics to give you context if you have not heard the song, but upon reading them I could not find more than two lines that didn’t say something that couldn’t double as pornography. But this rap song masquerading as music was one of the most talked about points of the show, while Minaj stood on stage gyrating and murdering everything good that once was about the music world with every twerk.

I would be totally fine with this if there were something else going on with the performances. Any of the performances. Just give us one outlier (not including Taylor Swift, please) that is not like the rest of them. If they would have thrown in just one performance by Arctic Monkeys, I would have been more than satisfied. Well, maybe not totally satisfied. Because shockingly enough, the biggest outrage of the 2014 Video Music Awards was not the performances. It was the Rock Video of the Year category.

In past years, legends have been nominated for this prestigious award. In 2006 there was Green Day, Panic! At The Disco, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the winner of the group was AFI with “Miss Murder”. Even in 2008, the nominees included Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Slipknot and Foo Fighters. This year, however, is where it all went wrong. There wasn’t an awful selection as far as nominations go, including Arctic Monkeys, Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park and The Black Keys. There was one more nominee, however, the one who would go on to win the category that made the mix awry.

Are you ready? Have you prepared yourself?

Lorde, with her song “Royals,” won the award for best rock video.

Let it be known that I do not have much against Lorde. I mean, the girl is only 17 years old and she has already dominated the pop radio stations, topping the charts with both “Royals” and “Team.” She is clearly some kind of marketing genius (though I do not understand her dance moves). However, to say that her music even comes close to qualifying as rock or alternative or anything relating even distantly to those two words is completely insane. The fact that she was nominated would have been enough for me to be angry, but the fact that she won over Arctic Monkeys and Linkin Park is an outrage. I honestly think that this win has single-handedly displayed the end of rock music as a whole.

So what can we do about it? It’s simple. Change how we look at music. Celebrate diversity in your Spotify playlists. Try new things, if you like it, great. If not, it’s not like you wasted a tremendous amount of time listening to a short song. If we collectively expand our horizons and try new things involving all different types of music, we can carry on the legacy of all the genres we love. Soon there won’t be any genres at all, just one big collective blob of techno-esque beats with an overlay reminiscent of a fifth grader who just learned what swear words are. So stop the genocide of genres, and try new things today. Maybe if enough of us think to challenge what we hear on the radio and think for ourselves in deciding what we like to listen to, maybe we will get back to Green Day alongside Shakira, instead of Nicki Minaj and some other pop star exactly like her.