NPR Music News

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MTV is the TV network most widely associated with short attention spans. So it makes sense that its Video Music Awards would function as a jarring and disjointed jumble of moments — a howl of protest followed immediately by a singer's tears of joy, or a heartfelt speech by a grieving mother giving way to a performance of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart and DNCE. In such a barrage, it's unfair to expect any one performance, speech or spectacle to rise above the others, especially as the telecast stretched past three hours.

Generally speaking, music festivals are not for audiophiles, or even those seeking an experience sonically faithful to an artist's intent. At a typical festival, stages often sit so close together that there's sound bleed from the main-stage headliner onto the less established acts on the smaller stages. Musicians have very little to no time to soundcheck. Uncontrollable weather dramatically affects noise levels. Then there's the logistics of keeping what amounts to a small city of revelers up and running.

Let's get one issue out of the way up front: MTV is never again going to build its programming around music videos. For that, viewers have YouTube — as well as MTV's lower-stakes spinoff channels — and besides, if you're old enough to remember when MTV's programming revolved around videos, then you're almost certainly too old for MTV to care what you think.