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The show, directed by Spike Jonze and hosted by Jason Schwartzmann and Reggie Watts, was completely unscripted and unpredictable in nature. The term “live” was taken quite literally; music videos were actually created on the spot, with fan participation encouraged.
Big-name winners included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for Youtube breakthrough, Eminem for Artist of the Year, Taylor Swift for Youtube phenomenon, and Girls’ Generation for Video of the Year. Notably in the running, however, were some quality artists who have not basked in the spotlight nearly as much. Passenger was a contestant for Youtube Breakthrough, with Bat For Lashes, Atoms For Peace, and Toro y Moi serving as nominees for Innovation of the Year. It was refreshing to see these deserving yet underrated artists on the ballot next to some of America’s most popular radio sensations.
Arcade Fire, a WERS favorite, made an appearance with a performance of “Afterlife,” a track off their new album Reflektor. The live music video created for the song was directed by Jonze and featured frantic dance moves from Greta Gerwig. The final chorus of the song brought to the stage a group of–were those?–miniature cheerleaders. Later in the show, lead vocalist Win Butler pulled a classic Kanye when he interrupted Taylor Swift winning an award, declaring that “The Youtube Phenomenon of the year was definitely the Harlem Shake.” He then threw the microphone on the ground and walked away.
The awards show was further proof that when it comes to the music scene, it’s safest to expect the unexpected.