Kanye West’s VMA Performance: Love It Or Hate It?

/ September 13, 2010

Whether you love or hate him (or fall somewhere in between,) Kanye West never fails to create the award show moment that everyone is talking about on Monday. Some fans thought Kanye’s VMA-closing performance of the never-before-heard rap/ballad “Runaway” was pure genius, while others were underwhelmed at best.

In our quest to make sense of Kanye’s latest splash, Celebuzz consulted two music savantsAngel Laws, founder and editor of the urban entertainment blog ConcreteLoop.com and Andrea Dresdale, ABC News Radio’s Entertainment News manager – to weigh in on Kanye’s performance, from his back-up ballerinas to his all-red ensemble. While both of these ladies are admitted Kanye fans, they have different yet equally interesting takes on the “Runaway” debut.

Beat Breakdown

Angel thought Kanye’s beat machine maneuvering was, in a word, “dope.” “He’s showing you how he makes his music and what goes through this mind while he’s doing it,” she told Celebuzz. Though Andrea makes it clear she considers Kanye something of a musical genius, she thought the pre-rap beat-making was, well, a little beat. “It looked a bit silly, since the piano was so small and he was hunched over it,” she told us. “It almost looked like he was grilling hamburgers or something.”

Ballerina Back-Up Dancers: yay or nay?

For Andrea, Kanye’s dainty backup dancers were just okay. “I expect that kind of juxtaposition from Kanye,” she said. Angel saw them through a different lens, observing that Kanye was “orchestrating the beat” to the flow of the ballerinas’ dresses.

2010 MTV Video Music AwardsMore VMA Video

The Message

What did our go-to experts make of Kanye’s vocal mea culpa for his past offenses? “I took it as a reflectve song,” Angel told Celebuzz. “At this point he knows what he’s doing wrong and it looks like he’s trying to fix it.” As for the “douchebags” and other misfits Kanye mentions, “the message is, ‘let’s have a toast to those people who are still trying to grow.” Andrea agrees – to a point. “There’s such a thing as too much self-flagellation,” she said. “Okay, we get it. You hate yourself.  After a while, you start hating him for hating himself so much.”  Zing!

The Bleep Factor
Both Andrea and Angel expressed surprise that MTV declined to censor Kanye’s use of words like “a-hole,” but Angel guesses it was no accident, saying “MTV knows what they’re doing:” “They did it on purpose so you can hear what he was saying,” she said.

How’d he sound?

“His vocals were off,” Angel conceded, adding, “he’s not a singer. He should have had somebody that’s a singer do that chorus.” Andrea, too, was less than impressed. “It was an odd mix of singing, autotuned/treated vocals and rapping,” she said. “The rapping is always the best part.”

Relive Kanye’s VMA ’09 scandal here:

The Outfit

Kanye’s head-to-toe red (and low-cut tank) didn’t quite do it for Andrea, who “expected him to look even more turned out, perhaps with a tie, simply because he’s been tweeting about rocking suits all the time.” Valid point – but Angel says as a “visual person,” she was charmed. “The red suit with the white lines of the set… when he came on the stage he instantly stood out,” she said. “You know those sneakers were his – Louis Vuitton and Kanye. You know he’s going to rock his own sneakers!”

The Bottom Line

Andrea: “I expected more from an artist who is always pushing the boundaries of music.  To me it was just more self-flagellation, which he’d already done on Twitter.  The song was catchy, but everything else he’s been releasing in the past few weeks was far superior.”

Angel: “It was dope!”

What did you think of Kanye’s VMA performance of “Runaway?” Weigh in via the comments and the poll below.