Russell Brand, Muse Bring British Edge to MTV VMAs

All in all, last night’s MTV Video Music Awards were the most entertaining in over a decade (i.e. the last time MTV actually played music videos). There was Pink with her boob out, Lady GaGa writhing around in fake blood, Janet Jackson huffing and puffing through her late brother’s dance moves, and Madonna‘s humorlessness actually becoming a virtue during her surprisingly moving Michael Jackson tribute.

And of course, there were the two moments everyone will remember from the show: Kanye West boorishly storming the stage and interrupting Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech, and Beyoncé classily giving up time during her own “Video of the Year” speech to allow Taylor to finish hers. It was a night full of trainwrecks, reminding us of the glories that only live and unscripted television can bring.

And, OK, I could have dealt with one or two fewer jokes about looking up Katy Perry‘s vagina. But British comedian Russell Brand proved that, once again, he’s the right man to host the VMAs. Smartly, he took a backseat and let the show’s drama ebb and flow without his interference. And he even managed to slip in some jabs at American politics: “We English are a little different. Instead of ‘truck,’ we say ‘lorry.’ Instead of ‘elevator,’ we say ‘lift.’ And instead of letting people die in the streets, we have free health care!”

After the show, Brand also put Kanye West’s tirade in proper perspective: “We’re all people; these things are a bit silly. Calm down, no one died, it’s all right…Because in the past, I’ve made mistakes and done things a little bit daft, if I think someone has done things that I don’t agree with, I think, well, I’ve done things in the past that I’m not proud of.” Mr. Brand is a dude who knows what’s ultimately important.

During the ceremony, there was one moment of sublime Britishness when MTV host Alexa Chung and Scottish sex god Gerard Butler introduced veteran English band Muse, who made their first-ever appearance on American television at last night’s VMAs. They gave a impassioned performance of their new single, “Uprising,” at New York’s Walter Kerr Theater. Could this be their big crossover moment? Word has it that “Uprising” may be added to the soundtrack of New Moon, the eagerly-awaited sequel to Twilight.

Watch Muse’s performance below:

In other news:

  • The Gavin & Stacey remake has been picked up by ABC.(Variety)
  • Susan Boyle received a Beatles-esque welcome when she arrived at LAX.(BBC)
  • Singing legend Dame Vera Lynn, 92, became the oldest living Brit to have a No. 1 album in the UK over the weekend, beating an onslaught of Beatles re-issues.(The Times)
  • Former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, guitarist for the band during its creative peak, says he hasn’t received any Stones royalties since 1982.(Daily Mail)
  • Michael Sheen is looking very un-Tony Blair in New Moon, the sequel to Twilight.(Daily Mail)
  • Simon Cowell is finally being upfront with X Factor contestants: winning the show won’t necessarily mean they’ll be successful. “People can give an amazing performance on the show but then they can’t get the whole career thing right. It’s disappointing but it’s out of our hands – it comes down to the public whether or not they like them after the show.”(The Sun)
  • A preview of Season Six of Peep Show.(The Sun)
  • America, which has taken so many of the UK’s best reality shows, is finally giving back: So You Think You Can Dance? (the brainchild of Brits Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe) will have a UK version next year. (The Stage)
  • Prince William tangles with a giant tarantula named Sarah.(The Times)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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