YouTube's Debut Awards Show Was ... Kind of a Mess

Critics weigh in on the 'YTMAs'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2013 6:45 AM CST

YouTube threw its first awards show last night, and the results were ... interesting. The unscripted show, directed by Spike Jonze and hosted by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts, took place in New York City and was livestreamed on YouTube. Awards were handed out and artists offered up performances (er, "live music videos," as they were called). The consensus? It was all a bit weird:

  • "Scripts, it turns out, were invented for a reason," writes Jessica Gelt in the Los Angeles Times. Sure, we love unscripted YouTube moments involving cats and babies, but when it comes to actual music on the site, "quite a bit of care and planning goes into most YouTube videos that go viral." But the YouTube Music Awards were pure chaos, from random crying babies to a "deeply strange and out-of-tune performance" from Lady Gaga, who was also randomly crying. And what was up with Eminem winning Artist of the Year? Sure, 60 million YouTube viewers voted, so the result was democratic—but "YouTube is famous largely thanks to its rich landscape of unknown creators who post videos of themselves singing Eminem songs or put their own oddball visions up onscreen and cross their fingers that they'll be discovered," writes Gelt in a separate Times article. "Shouldn't YouTube try harder to honor its own?"

  • "Unfortunately, [the show] got distracted by its own gimmick, and the chaos overwhelmed the otherwise inspired performances and subsequent dance parties," writes Hilary Hughes for USA Today. It was "frenzied, disorganized," and "confused." Sure, parts of it were also fun, but while the awards "sought to redefine expectations for a celebration of popular music," the show "instead fell short of revolutionizing them."
  • On Variety, Todd Spangler calls the webcast "glitchy and awkward." It "wasn’t broadcast-quality in any sense—it was marred by video and sound snafus, and the show’s hosts looked adrift as they tried to wing it without scripts." The video stream "froze at several points, and microphones malfunctioned. Even when the video played normally it often wasn’t clear what was going on." And, though one would think an unscripted show would allow for some good moments, "nothing very interesting happened."
  • But not everyone hated it: On Spin, Chris Martins deemed it "a charming mess" and declared that all the imperfections were reasons to keep watching. And in the New York Times, Jon Caramanica says that while the show was "essentially [of] no consequence" and "often inexplicable," it was also a "surprisingly easy-to-watch jumble."
(Read more YouTube stories.)

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