Nicki Minaj has a chip on her shoulder

In case you didn’t hear this week, Nicki Minaj complained loudly on Twitter about how her video “Anaconda” didn’t get nominated for “Best video of the year” at the VMAs. Among these complaints she decided to throw in the race card, saying that the media was racist for not nominating her for the best video of the year, despite the fact that “Anaconda” is nominated for 2 other awards, including best female video, and a collaboration video that she was in is also nominated. To everyone besides the stars themselves these awards are purely trivial. It’s a time of year when the music industry gives itself a pat on the back and says that they did a good job this year and that they can continue doing the job next year. Nicki Minaj, in just 140 characters, has made it about something far more important and belittled everyone who suffers racist abuse, whether it’s every day or once in their lifetime.

Let me back up for a minute and apologise that I’m not doing another Dota 2 themed post. I thought this deserved my attention despite the fact that it involves celebrities. Regular content will resume tomorrow. Secondly, I don’t think any of the videos that are nominated for best video of the year should get it. To spare you the pain of sitting through them, I watched all the videos and so, after diving into why Nicki Minaj is a fool, I will give you my views on the actual VMAs and who should win.

Anaconda, if you haven’t seen it, is a song about why big dicks are awesome and how some men treat Nicki Minaj like royalty. I watched it when it came out because people said it was controversial, and it’s resulted in setting the trends for the music industry for this year at least. It features Minaj in an array of very revealing outfits and the sexualisation of the video isn’t even thinly veiled, and I would argue that, while she was famous before Anaconda for more than just her looks, she is now just famous for her body, her name becoming exploited to breaking point before the next trend takes over and she is no longer in the spotlight. To be honest I quite enjoyed watching Anaconda, but at the same time, I quite enjoyed watching Epic Movie and it doesn’t make it good. The reason that Minaj seems to think that Anaconda should get a nomination is because it introduced “twerking” to the regular lexicon and, afterwards, we had Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s video “Booty,” which is nothing but an attempt to cash in on the now and Beyonce’s video, which did receive a nomination, 7/11, wherein her and a few other girls twerk for the viewers pleasure. I’ll go into why I don’t like it in a moment.

The dangerous thing is that Nicki Minaj, as a successful black woman who must have faced true discrimination at some point in her career, if not at many points, belittles the idea that racism still exists. By saying the music-media is racist where she is so obviously wrong (Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce all received nominations for video of the year and, with Mark Ronson, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift as the only other nominees, the split is exactly 50/50 between white people and black people) implies to people that there isn’t racism in the media. While I think that Nicki Minaj shouldn’t be as influential as she is, we can’t deny that what she says reaches a lot of people, after all, I’m talking about her today and all I really want to talk about is Dota 2. I think perfectly right to be annoyed at the fact that Anaconda didn’t get nominated for best video of the year at an arbitrary awards ceremony because, like it or not, is has been very influential on the mainstream music industry, but to say that it’s because the music industry is racist is farcical.

Anyway, onto more light-hearted stuff now where I get to take the piss out of the celebrities that are actually nominated.

Beyonce – 7/11

Beyonce is the dull noise in the background which isn’t absolutely dislikable but isn’t particularly likeable either. Destiny’s Child was apparently quite good, but to those who have only heard her singles it is clear that making music isn’t one of her strong points and, for that matter, neither is acting. 7/11 is a song that, I think, is about getting drunk. Unfortunately it uses so much autotune that I can’t actually tell what she’s saying half the time and when I can it’s mostly just to rhyme “alcohol” with “alcohol.” But I’m not here to talk about the actual music. In fact, I listened to all the songs with Kendrick Lamar on this list without audio because that man has the voice of a dying goat.

From an outsider’s perspective it seems that Beyonce is just following trends. There’s twerking in the video, relatively scantily clad women and I think it concerns the 24 hours before, during and after a house party at Beyonce’s flat. No one in the video, not even Beyonce who probably made $5 million from this single alone, looks like they’re having fun, and that’s a pretty big drawback if you’re meant to look like you’re at a party. There is a particular bit where Beyonce “dances” (head-bobs) at the camera while looking drunk, but to me it looked like she had just got the divorce papers through and decided to hit the gin bottle. That said, I like the locations and the way it’s shot with a fish-eye lens a lot of the time. But that’s the only thing it has going for it. It’s a song that has Beyonce in it and so the video is all focused on her.

Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

I had to do some research as to who Mark Ronson was after watching this video. I thought that whoever directed the music video had actually done a very good job of capturing the feel of the song because, to me, it sounds very 80s and 90s with an upbeat tune and soulful/jazz-y vocals, but Mark Ronson looked so out of place throughout. If you didn’t know like me, Mark Ronson is a DJ so I assume he wrote the song and Bruno Mars sang it, and it’s probably the best actual song on this list, in my opinion anyway. It’s got a bit of originality to it and the video is quite entertaining to watch. Set in the suburbs of a city in America, Bruno Mars dominates the video with a few of his friends, all dancing in unison while singing, like a barbershop quartet, the different parts of the song. The video reminded me a lot of Westside Story, as far as setting goes, and the costumes and dancing a lot of films set in the 1960s, particularly Macolm X. I mean that as a compliment, just to clarify. Overall I think this has a good chance of winning and if I was judging (but had no say in the nominations) I would give it first place.

Taylor Swift & Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

OH GOD WHY!?!?! This song is the most overplayed shite I’ve every heard. Terrible lyrics, a boring, repeating melody and, to boot, Kendrick Lamar’s terribad rapping.

*deep breath*

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way I can talk about the actual music video. I think this is a close second if we just look at the video, but everything about it is very see through. It brings in elements of pop culture and cult films like The Fifth Element, Resident Evil and The Hunger Games, and that last one was very apparent to me. It feels like a quick cash in on the popularity of Suzanne Collin’s book series and appeals primarily to young boys and girls. However, if I look at it with only thinking that then I am nothing but a cynic and, since I’ve already said this is a close second for me, I must have liked something about it, right? Well, the reason why I think it is a close second is because it toes the line between parody and copying. It holds itself back by taking itself too seriously but there are some funny moments in there if you know what the video is copying. Also, again, some singers seem to have problems with acting and, for a dance, I thought Taylor Swift would find it easier to properly act out fight scenes. It’s worth saying that the video moves so quickly with so much going on that I can’t accurately summarise it with any one sentence. If I was forced to then I’d say it was set in a Blade-Runner-esque future with a heavy influence put on introducing the different parts of Taylor Swift’s gang which might actually be a kind of secret police. See, a bit of a crap summary. If I liked the song like I liked Uptown Funk then it might win but the lack of originality really holds it back because everything it copies is in recent memory. Anyway, enough said about the dullset tones of Taylor Swift.

Ed Sheeran – Thinking out loud

For all intents and purposes I quite liked this song and the video. It features Ed Sheeran and Brittany Cherry dancing in formal attire around a big, grandiose ballroom, empty of everyone else. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch much dancing recently, particularly not professional dancing, so it was nice to see something so nicely shot and well rehearsed play out before me to, what I think, is one of Ed Sheeran’s stronger songs. I think he has a style that he tends to fall back on a lot, that is the pseudo-rapping he does to built-up guitar, and you can tell he’s tried to stay away from that a bit without alienating his core fanbase, who know and love him for his well-trodden style.There’s really not much to say about this besides that it’s quite pleasant to watch, and I don’t think there are many big celebrities who would do this sort of thing. In the rush for originality it’s easy to forget that doing something that works, and doing it well, can be extremely powerful.

Kendrick Lamar – Alright

Why do I do this to myself? For journalistic integrity I have now listened to the music that goes with this almost 7 minute video. If I’m honest, I do like the video a lot. I think that it touches on a lot of subjects. Being set in another suburbs in an undisclosed city in America it takes a look at gang-crime, alcoholism, a slight reference to racist-police (which I actually commend the director for. Very surprising, quite funny and very poignant) and, with the black and white colour scheme, it makes it far more gritty than if it was in colour. It even starts of with a piece of spoken word, a fringe form of poetry which I really like. The nice thing about it is that it’s meant to sound unrefined so Lamar’s horrific accent works well with it because it’s not meant to sound nice.

And then the rapping kicks in.

I have a love/hate relationship with rap because I think that rap is 50% about the actual lyrics and 50% about delivery. Other forms of music, particularly musicals, have some god awful lyrics but, because the delivery is paramount then people are far more willing to like it. This is where I have a problem with Kendrick Lamar because he has a voice fit for torturing small children. I like his lyrics, and I like the pace at which he delivers them, but I can’t stand his accent in anything that he’s in. The video also devolves later into being all about Lamar, using the same few shots over and over again which ruins the premise it started with.

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