After decades of it's signature shock-and-awe factor, this year's MTV Video Music Awards were shockingly tame.
Following weeks of mounting anticipation, Sunday night's star-studded ceremony left many surprisingly underwhelmed—but what had been the problem?
Madison Square Garden was packed with some of the biggest names in the industry, including 23-time nominee and six-time Moonman winner Britney Spears, music phenom Beyoncé and this year's notable Michael Jackson Video Vanguard honoree Rihanna.
The annual show had returned to the city that never sleeps and the white carpet was covered with all kinds of famous figures, including even a handful of decorated Olympians. The evening's lineup featured a montage of Beyoncé's latest visual album, Nick Jonas dancing his heart out through a city diner and even a surprise appearance from Ryan Lochte. Still, despite all of the fanfare, many turned their televisions off feeling a bit unfulfilled.
In an age of saturated media, soaring expectations and extreme competition—particularly on television—a show with a reputation as scandalous as the Video Music Awards' is bound to get in its own way after a while.
Here are a few signature elements of the MTV VMAs that were sorely missed last night:
1. There was no ring leader.
A televised award show is really not complete without a host. While the awards opted to flow without one, viewers at home and in the audience would have benefitted from a physical leader to guide us all through the night. Plus, there was no one to publicly say what everyone was thinking and make the necessary and hopefully hilarious jabs expected at events like these.
2. The winners were predictable.
While no star expected to win an award wants a sudden upset, they are one of the most entertaining and interesting moment that can happen during a live show. Still, virtually every star expected to take home a Moonman last night did, which left very little mystery to the otherwise highly publicized event.
3. Very few stars actually accepted their speeches.
Speaking of award winners, we didn't actually see all that many personally get up behind the mic and accept their coveted honor. Drake was supposedly stuck in traffic when he was honored with the first award during the show, Calvin Harris accepted his Best Male Video with a pre-taped video message since he was unable to attend and Beyoncé gave very brief remarks accepting two of the biggest awards of the night.
One of the highlights of an award show is seeing typically poised stars give unrehearsed reaction to winning a notable statue. This year, it felt as if the show had been stripped of that very fundamental component.
4. The performances were straightforward.
During a show that once featured Spears writhing around with a live snake, Lady Gaga hanging herself with fake blood as the grand finale to her show opener or a notorious Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus duet, the most awaited performances of the night were ultimately solid, but expected.
Beyoncé effortlessly performed a medley of her own hits as she had similarly done two years ago as the Video Vanguard recipient. Rihanna's several appearances on the stage were as vivacious as could have been anticipated, though her finale was all to similar to the performance she gave months prior at the Billboard Music Awards. Even Spears, who was making her VMA comeback after nearly a decade hiatus, was good, but lacked the kind of punch many were hoping of her grand reunion with MTV.
5. The fashion was shockingly tame.
This is the red carpet that Lady Gaga once walked in a meat dress. When women like Amber Rose, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, who are typically known to take risks with their clothes, arrive in beautiful but rather traditional award show looks—a gown with cutouts, a black suit with a lace bra—you know it's not going to be a night for historic fashion moments.