March 18, 2019 / 8:29 PM

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YouTube Music Awards Recap



There's something raw and real about a YouTube video that you don't see on a music video traditionally fit for television. In line with this spirit, the YouTube Music Awards were not what you would expect to see on the real tube. The theme of the night was "creativity," and billions of votes were cast for the winners of the evening.

Actor and musician Jason Schwartzman (Coconut Records) co-hosted with comedian and musician Reggie Watts. The hosting was pretty much completely unscripted, or as much as it could be without completely falling apart.

The show opened with an enthusiastic number of Greta Gerwig dancing to Arcade Fire's "Afterlife." The live music video was directed by Spike Jonze. A brief history of YouTube followed, including Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain," if you can remember that phenomenon.

Lady Gaga's piano number "Dope" was very stripped down and emotional. Gaga appeared to be crying at times.

The Best Response Award went to Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix for the cover of Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive." Accepting the award, Sterling said, "YouTube allowed me to be true to myself." Schwartzman and Watts had to dig through a cake to get the winner for this category. There were a lot of these scavenger-hunt type skits between peformances. Stirling, who has received over 500 million YouTube views, later performed. 

Destorm also shared some heartfelt words when he accept an award for Best Innovation. "This award means more than any other award I ever got...YouTube was my beginning." He dedicated the awarded to "all the fans who put up with me for seven years." 

Other live videos came from Tyler the Creator, and the highly-anticipated performance by Eminem, who won Artist of the Year. Eminem delivered a short speech thanking YouTube and his fans, ending with "thanks to everyone for coming out, I'm out!" 

Other bizarre happenings: Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler pulled a Kanye West in intercepting an award. The Phenomenon Award went to Taylor Swift for "I Knew Your Were Trouble," but Butler said it should've gone to "Harlem Shake." Things then got shakey and froze for some viewers (expected during live streaming). There was a live short by Lena Dunham thrown in the mix. YouTube Video of the Year went to Girls Generation for "I Got a Boy." The award for the South Korean girls' group was "unexpected" and "humbling." 

Verdict? A lot of viewers were uncomfortable by this unfamiliar format of music awards. One tweet by @JoeyGattoTVim not watching bc i like it... im watching bc its so bad i cant stop watching #YTMA.

Toward the end, Schwartzman took to the drums (formerly drummer for Phantom Planet) while Watts sang. Spike Jonze ended the night by thanking YouTube for letting them "make this mess." When Schwartzman asked if he had anything to add, Jonze replied, "I think we're done," to which Schwartzman said: "I think we're done, that pretty much sums it up."

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