Last night, YouTube held its first awards ceremony. Specifically, the YouTube Music Awards broadcast live around the globe starting at 6PM EST with region-specific live performances, guests, presenters, and more. I didn't watch live, but I sure got a face full of it on Twitter. YouTube's actually put up the live highlights and is featuring the winners on the homepage today. There are a couple cool things about the YouTube Music Awards. Most Internet-specific awards shows are decided on popular vote (I should start my Lammy's campaign sooner this year) and YouTube's were no exception. The difference is how the winners and nominees were even chosen. The nominees were selected by video views, subscriptions, likes, and comments since September 2012. Then, a video was created for each nominee in each category that was voted on by sharing the link on social media--Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. The nomination process is the perfect way to handle awards through YouTube. There can't be any questions. These videos had more views, comments, likes, and channel subscriptions than other possible nominees.
Another great aspect of the awards: brevity. There were only six categories: Video of the Year, Artist of the Year, Innovation of the Year, YouTube Breakthrough, YouTube Phenomenon, and YouTube Response. Innovation meant creative advances in video design and was the only category not decided entirely by views/likes/subscriptions/comments. Phenomenon was basically the viral video category, the music trends you couldn't escape over the past year. Response was the cover song category.
What we're left with is an awards show that used tangible public opinion for nominations in a smaller range of categories so all of the nominees got more exposure in the end. YouTube really committed to making it a global effort, nominating a lot of independent and foreign language artists side by side with mainstream major label artists.
Innovation of the Year went to Destorm featuring Alexandra Govere's "See Me Standing." Destorm is not a signed artist. He announces in his video description that he'll be releasing his debut mixtape this year. The song is solid and the video is simple but effective. I love the magenta lighting and use of shadow to frame the shots. Lighting is the easiest way to make a no budget video look slick and professional.
YouTube Response went to Sketchy Details' favorite Lindsey Stirling for her cover of "Radioactive" featuring The Sing Off victors Pentatonix. It's a fantastic cover of a song that took a long time to grow on me. The video is, again, another low budget affair that uses the other big trick--good location--to up the production value. It has a taste of post-apocalyptic action with the barren landscape and tattered Mad Max-esque ensembles on the performers.
YouTube Phenomenon went to Walk Off the Earth featuring KRNFX for their cover of "I Knew You Were Trouble." A Capella is huge on YouTube. Walk Off the Earth does fantastic covers and has a huge fan base; they deserve it. Anything that draws more attention to talented musicians is a good thing. This group didn't even need fancy video tricks: they perform in front of a set of blinds and kill it.
YouTube Breakthrough went to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Surprise. They're everywhere and largely blew up because of the viral success of their ridiculous "Thrift Shop" video. No one else stood a chance in this category.
Artist of the Year went to Eminem. His new album was timed just right to pick up this award. He's getting a lot of attention for putting out more solid singles and a lot of criticism for some of the implied (or even explicit) misogyny and homophobia in some of his new songs. He made his mark as a controversial artist and that kind of criticism just galvanizes his fans even more. Eminem has always put out strong music--I mean, a rapper winning Best Rap Album at the Grammys for his debut? An Oscar for a rap song?--and the new material so far isn't breaking the trend. (NSFW Lyrics)
Video of the Year went to the South Korean girl group Girls' Generation for "I Got a Boy." The Internet is naturally reacting in an appropriate, mature, not at all racist way. Oh wait, scratch that. Pop Dust names and shames the idiots (even if sites like Kotaku are censoring the handles).
Anywho, Girls' Generation is the epitome of that Korean Wave thing I wrote about over at The LAMB recently. They put out polished pop music, stylish videos, and have fans all over the world; even I voted for "I Got a Boy" for Video of the Year. It's just so much fun. I love all the tempo and style changes in the video as well as their solid hip-hop choreography. Stick with them past the first 90 seconds or so; the choreography travels through the history of hip-hop dancing, ending at the modern pop and lock choreography celebrated for years on America's Best Dance Crew. Every time an act like Psy or Girls' Generation breaks through in a big way, there's a slightly wider opening for more foreign artists to gain success in America. It's why the YouTube recommendation feature is so great. Oh, you like Girls' Generation? Try Super Junior or Big Bang. And so on and so forth down the rabbit hole.
What did you think of the first ever YouTube Music Awards? Share your thoughts below.