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The 2013 MuchMusic Video Awards Delivered Less Glamour, More Goofiness

Drake, Classified, and Avril Lavigne were among the winners at the 2013 MMVAs.

Psy performs at the 2013 MMVAs. Still from MuchMusic’s broadcast of the ceremony.

On June 16th, the MuchMusic Video Awards once again took over the downtown core, transforming the MuchMusic parking lot into a series of sharply geometric, glowing stages and several blocks of Queen Street into a roiling mass of screaming teens. With the spectacle of the red carpet, and with MuchMusic’s over-the-top, extraordinarily earnest dedication to making its award show one of the most glamorous events of the year in Canadian media, there’s always a danger that the ceremony will start taking itself too seriously. Which is why South Korean pop sensation and viral-video wizard PSY was perfect for this year’s co-host spot: his self-aware goofiness was the perfect antidote to the stilted banter and aesthetic excess.

PSY opened the show by performing his wildly infectious, high-energy smash hit “Gangnam Style,” which would later win the MMVA for Viral Video of the Year. Performing his signature horse dance along with a troupe of brightly-clad backup dancers, PSY brought an energy that reminded the audience why his well-loved and overplayed single garnered so much attention in the first place. Later in the show, to prove that he was more than a one-trick pony, he challenged the DJ to “hit me with anything you want” and performed an impromptu and hilarious dance to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” The MMVAs closed with a performance of his newest single, “Gentleman,” back-up dancers now clad in gold pants while a huge, inflatable PSY rose in the background, surrounded by pyro. It was a perfect example of how spectacle can be self-aware and still wildly funny.

Two other bright spots in the performances were Ed Sheeran’s acoustic and heartfelt rendition of “Lego House.” Played perhaps a hair fast because of genuine nerves, the singer-songwriter, who is currently on tour with megastar Taylor Swift (who was also in attendance and won the award for Your Fave International Artist/Group), added a soulful, bashful note to the proceedings. Serena Ryder, who would net the award for Rock/Alternative Video of the Year for “Stompa,” put on a gutsy and growling performance that left no doubt in our mind that she was genuinely overjoyed to be playing.

The red carpet is a kind of performance in and of itself, and this year Marianas Trench made the best entrance (and later would net the Your Fave Video award for “Stutter”). The group pulled up a with dunk tank attached to a flatbed truck, all the band members dressed as mermen. Backstage, Billy Talent, who took the award for Post-Production of the Year for “Surprise Surprise,” objected to suggestions that Marianas Trench’s arrival was the best in the history of the MMVAs. (In 2005, Talent arrived in a Sherman tank.)

Canadian-pop power couple Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger made a more understated—but highly anticipated—entrance, both clad all in black and making minimal small talk. Lavigne stepped from their car with a black leather, spiked crown atop her head. She would later perform “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” a song that is so perfectly suited to her that it may have been composed by an algorithm. She won International Video of the Year for the track.

Perhaps the greatest surprise of the night was an appearance by Drake, who, unexpectedly and unannounced, strode onstage to speak after winning Hip-Hop Video of the Year for “Started From the Bottom,” which would also take Director of the Year honours later in the evening. Drake was one of two big winners of the night, the other being another Canadian rapper Classified, who claimed both the Video of the Year and Muchfact Video of the Year awards for anti-bullying ode “Inner Ninja.”

Here’s a complete list of MMVA 2013 winners:

  • Video Of The Year: Classified & David Myles, “Inner Ninja”
  • Post-Production Of the Year: Billy Talent, “Surprise Surprise”
  • Dance Video Of the Year: deadmau5 f. Chris James, “The Veldt”
  • Director Of The Year: Director X – Drake, “Started From the Bottom”
  • Pop Video Of the Year: Marianas Trench, “Desperate Measures”
  • Rock/Alternative Video Of The Year: Serena Ryder, “Stompa”
  • Hip-Hop Video Of The Year: Drake, “Started From the Bottom”
  • Muchfact Video Of The Year: Classified f. David Myles, “Inner Ninja”
  • International Video Of The Year (artist): Demi Lovato, “Heart Attack”
  • International Video Of The Year (group): Macklemore and Ryan Lewis f. Wanz, “Thrift Shop”
  • International Video Of The Year By A Canadian: Avril Lavigne, “Here’s To Never Growing Up”
  • Your Fave Artist/Group: Justin Bieber
  • Your Fave Video: Marianas Trench, “Stutter”
  • Your Fave International Artist/Group: Taylor Swift

CORRECTION: June 20, 2013, 11:40 AM This post originally said that Billy Talent arrived at the 1995 MMVA ceremony in a Sherman tank. In fact, the tank entrance happened in 2005.

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