Eminem was named Artist of the Year at the first YouTube Music Awards, which kicked off Sunday at New York City’s Pier 36 and were streamed live worldwide.
“This felt more like a festival,” said actor Jason Schwartzman, who hosted with comic-musician Reggie Watts, as he closed the show.
He was right about that — the hosts operated without a script, and the show was about as informal as an awards gathering could be. It seemed more than a little disorganized, but some of that was by design. And there were some of the hitches you’d expect from a first outing, including losing mic power a time or two.
Even the winners treated the awards with a healthy bit of irreverence.
DeStorm, whose “See Me Standing” was the pick for the innovation of the year award, called his award “the dopest paperweight ever.”
There was plenty that wouldn’t fly at traditional awards ceremonies, but the time frame — a tight 90 minutes — was particularly impressive.
If, as the show’s hosts claimed, there were 16 billion votes cast for nominees in the six categories, a lot of people must have voted a lot of times, because only a little more than 155,000 viewers watched the stream.
Arcade Fire kicked off the show with the first music video performance featuring actress Greta Gerwig (“Francis Ha”). All of the performances were conceived as music videos and directed by different filmmakers selected by Spike Jonze. He’s the creative director for the show, which Vice and Sunset Lane Entertainment produced.
Eminem also performed, as did Lady Gaga. She sang her song “Dope” while wearing a trucker hat and a plaid, flannel shirt, and with tears streaming down her cheeks at one point.
The biggest early surprise was YouTube phenomenon People doing Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” beat “Gangnam Style.”
Artist of the Year — Most Watched, Shared, Liked, and Subscribed-to Artists — Eminem
Video of the Year — Video with Most Fan Engagement — Girls’ Generation “I Got A Boy”
Breakthrough — Artists with Biggest Growth in Views and Subscribers — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Response of the Year — Best Fan Remix, Parody or Response Video – Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix, “Radioactive”
Innovation of the Year — Creative Video Innovations with Most Views, Likes, Shares, Comments — DeStorm, “See Me Standing”
YouTube Phenomenon — Songs that Generated Most Fan Videos — Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”