YouTube Music Awards – A Lesson In Chaos

YouTube Music Awards Show 2013The YouTube Music Awards – The First Ever

This sounded like an awesome idea from the beginning. To me anyway.

I mean first off this has never been done before. The YouTube Music Awards?

Secondly, wow is the world’s second largest search engine and probably #1 music streaming and discover service, host, produce and live stream a music video award show?

It’s a website not television! That’s what made it so cool.

But after reading more about the event in the days preceding the line stream, I started to realize that this was probably an awesome idea on paper.

Like most excellent ideas, anything can and does sound amazing on paper, but executing that vision in a whole other thing.

Watching award shows live on television is most times masterful television production given all the chaos that comes with producing live television. Especially with sometimes volatile and time challenged celebrities.

As TechCrunch asked yesterday, “Can YouTube create live content that inspires watercooler zeitgeist moments like television? Google’s giving it a shot with the YouTube Music Awards, a celebration of do-it-yourself Internet culturelivestreaming on YouTube right now. It’s chaotic, innovative, offensive, silly, and downright weird. But one thing’s for sure. You won’t see this on TV.”

Isn’t that the truth!

If you didn’t know, iconic filmmaker Spike Jonze was the creative director behind the YouTube Music awards and his goal was to create “live music videos” onstage. Jonze had chosen to work with The Arcade Fire and Lady Gaga to film these artists is their own respective live music videos. Cool huh?

The show was crazy chaotic, which I enjoyed. It was completely all over the place. This was expected with having Spike Jonze behind the production. USA today reports:

“With director Spike Jonze at the creative helm of the ceremony, the YouTube Music Awards promised — and delivered — a volley of strange surprises, including the creation and broadcast of music videos with notable talents as the show unfolded.

This wasn’t your typical red-carpet affair with a few songs and dances thrown in between acceptance speeches, but a frenzied, disorganized (albeit spontaneous and fun) event that broke down boundaries between YouTube stars and their fans. The YouTube Music Awards sought to redefine expectations for a celebration of popular music, and instead fell short of revolutionizing them.”

I liked the spontaneity of it all but this made it difficult to watch which is likely why the VMA’s would never do attempt a production like this. As The Arcade Fire’s frontman Win Butler said emphatically  “If you tried this at the VMAs, you’d be (screwed)!”

The performances were…neat, I guess. While never working in television myself, I have had a lot of experience being on the other side of the camera so I can sort of relate to the chaos.

While working in the music industry, I did a lot of media relations with music artists and bands. I’ve seen many national television interviews and international award show productions from the backside of the camera. I can understand how chaotic and unpredictable live television can be. YouTube and Spike Jonze certainly had their work cut out for them with a ton of challenges along the way.

I particularly enjoyed Lindsey Stirling’s performance at the YouTube Music Awards.

Lindsay Sterling at The YouTube Music Awards 2013
Photo: Jeff Kravitz FilmMagic for YouTube)

It was crazy but I hope they do it again and get better with the production.

The YouTube Music Awards and Spike Jonez have passion.

They stuck with it…and THAT’s why this crazy messed up show rocked in my opinion.

awesome quote on passion and belief

For more information, context, and details on the live production read the New York Times article on the lead up to the YouTube Music Awards.

USA Today has  good write up with video coverage.


The Winners


Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney, Epic Rap Battles of History

Demi Lovato, Heart Attack

WINNER: Girls’ Generation, I Got A Boy

Justin Bieber (featuring Nicki Minaj), Beauty and A Beat

Lady Gaga, Applause

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (featuring Mary Lambert), Same Love

Miley Cyrus, We Can’t Stop

One Direction, Best Song Ever

Psy, Gentleman

Selena Gomez, Come & Get It


WINNER: Eminem


Justin Bieber

Katy Perry

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Nicki Minaj

One Direction



Taylor Swift


Boyce Avenue (featuring Fifth Harmony), Mirrors

Jayesslee, Gangnam Style

WINNER: Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix, Radioactive

The Piano Guys, Titanium/Pavane

Walk Off the Earth (featuring KRNFX), I Knew You Were Trouble



Gangnam Style

Harlem Shake

WINNER: I Knew You Were Trouble

Thrift Shop


Kendrick Lamar

WINNER: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Naughty Boy




Anamanaguchi, Endless Fantasy

Atoms for Peace, Ingenue

Bat for Lashes, Lilies

WINNER: DeStorm, See Me Standing

Toro Y Moi, Say That


2 thoughts on “YouTube Music Awards – A Lesson In Chaos

  1. I found it difficult to watch. I understand what they were trying to do, but I feel like it didn’t translate well. Maybe next year! Anyway, the more important thing is the paid music service. No more ads, just video playlists (like with torch music). Can’t wait!

    1. Agreed! I look forward to next years show, hope they keep it ‘loose’, i loved the mirror as a back drop. It really allowed viewers to see ‘the other side of the camera’.

      Subscription has always been the way to go. I wish ’em luck. The more paid music streaming services we have, the more competitive pricing models we’ll see.

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