A view of last night’s MuchMusic Video Awards that you don’t get from watching it on television.
The MuchMusic Video Awards ceremony doesn’t feel like Toronto. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a place that should actually exist on planet Earth.
It is, instead, a place so strange and kind of wonderful that when you arrive home and cut off your various multi-coloured wristbands, you can scarcely believe it really happened.
MuchMusic does an admirable job of making its after-school bubblegum fantasyland come to life for one night every June, but our comprehension of pop stars is such that they don’t really exist outside of gossip blogs, YouTube vids, and The Nation’s Music Station. (Does anyone still call it that?) So when they materialize and come together in the flesh, the experience of navigating the MMVA trenches (and I don’t just mean Marianas Trench-es) is weirdly magical and very surreal.
It begins with the red carpet, a mystical mating dance between media and PR reps, where making eye contact indicates that you (the hunter) are bearing down on your prey (the soundbite). You avoid locking eyes with the too-friendly publicists of the lesser stars, while the ones toting the big names are uniformly curt and frosty.
When all is said and done, you know where you stand on the celeb totem pole: Nelly Furtado and Perez Hilton are too good for you, but Rico Rodriguez and Conor Maynard aren’t. Shenae Grimes only talks to you because you shoved a microphone in her face when she wasn’t expecting it. Cody Simpson wasn’t too good for you last year, but he is now. Kreesha Turner is all smiles and says she remembers you. And Ed Sheeran seems like an incredibly nice guy.
Compared to the cruel and unusual kettling I was subjected to last year, the barricades of access were nudged just slightly ajar at MMVA 2012. My six hours inside 299 Queen St. W. didn’t feel like a prison (mostly because I came prepared with food rations), but also because us media types were—shock—allowed to go the bathroom without supervision this time around.
To get there, you pass by the celeb holding tank beside the InnerSPACE set, which was transformed into the Blackberry Lounge where Much personalities T-RexXx and Liz Trinnear peppered the MMVA talent with the relevant questions of the day.
The show itself looked like fun, from the little I saw on screens set up at either end of the press conference room, where former VJ Leah Miller held court all evening long, introducing and making small talk with the stars who bothered to turn up.
Predictably, hosts LMFAO picked up an award, committed various atrocities during their opening performance, and joked about their plans to “rip off Katy Perry’s blouse” during the closing press conference. The Sheepdogs were carted around all night looking and sounding uncomfortable, and the Twittersphere was set ablaze by the shutting out of One Direction. But Harry and the Styles weren’t in attendance, and the awards don’t really matter much anyway.
What everyone cares about is the star power, and MMVA 2012 will be remembered as the official anointing of Canada’s newest popstar export. Carly Rae Jepsen not only captured three awards, she also arrived in a shiny blue convertible, sang her evil-genius earworm single, lent her voice to Flo Rida for chorus duty on his performance of “Wild One,” produced a great press room quote about her days bartending and fronting a swing band, and performed a decidedly less-than-epic rendition of “Call Me Maybe” at Perez Hilton’s underwhelming clubland afterparty.
I have this theory that the world only has room for five true mega-popstars at any given time. The 2012 MMVAs landed two of them: the between-album-cycles and between-marriages Katy Perry, and, of course, the unquestionable king of all pop media, Justin Bieber.
His skipping of all publicity was wholly expected (dude doesn’t need the press), but it was disappointing to see him bypass the fans on the red carpet, zooming past the cardboard cutouts of his face, baby brother in tow. When a new star enters the pantheon, another must bow out, and isn’t it only a matter of time before the Bieb becomes Vanilla Ice for the 21st entury? He already has the haircut.
At an event so carefully pre-formed and packaged, it’s the human moments that are the extra-special ones, the ones that really get the press-room buzzing. I didn’t witness it myself, but heard from almost everyone that Ed Sheeran and Cody Simpson bumped into each other in the hallway and had a purportedly adorable chat. As the handlers, videographers, and caterers pretended not to listen in, the bedheaded ginger and chisel-jawed Australian took a few minutes out to shoot the breeze about music. Moments later, they parted ways and resumed the nomadic existence of the pop star. It’s a life that doesn’t really exist, but somehow, they’re living it.