Despite the loss of live performances, this year’s VMAs was not a total disaster. Other programs are still searching for ways to adapt to the newfound circumstances, but some award shows, such as the Emmys, have found imaginative ways to fascinate viewers while still taking the proper precautions.
2020’s VMAs had 6.4 million viewers, compared to last year’s 6.8 million. However, it had more than 41 million interactions across different social media platforms, further solidifying this era’s transition into the digital age.
To comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, a large portion of the VMAs’ performances were pre-recorded, meaning the entire award show was simply a compilation of glorified music videos. The venue itself was empty except for the host, Keke Palmer, who successfully directed the show even with the lack of an audience.
Artists such as Ariana Grande and Doja Cat filmed their performances without having to fly to New York. The global rising K-pop boy band, BTS, shot theirs in front of a green screen, the scenery of which depicted several famous spots in New York.
The booming success of VMAs 2020 brings up the debate of whether or not live performances are necessary anymore, especially since both were so well received by the public. Pre-recorded performances eliminate the possibility of technological issues, costume malfunctions, lip syncing failures, and other mistakes that are normally made live.
This format also allows more room for special effects. For example, the editing of Doja Cat’s performance highlighted her ethereal make-up and costume, creating a futuristic vibe which a live performance wouldn’t have been able to achieve.
However, the absence of a live audience can be devastating for entertainers since they thrive off of the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd. Complaints have also arisen that pre-recorded performances are too fabricated and the artist’s talent can’t fully be showcased.
Regardless of the nature of the VMAs’ performances, the singers put forth their best effort into producing an amazing show. The need for social distancing allowed artists to truly innovate and let their creativity run unhindered.