On a night where Taylor Swift brought out the claws and Miley Cyrus awkwardly twerked on stage with Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake proved that a little bit of class ultimately wins out.
The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award winner didn’t just reunite with his former *NSYNC band mates on stage at the Barclays Center for the first time in more than a decade. Nor did he just bring the house, nay, the entire borough of Brooklyn down with a medley of his greatest hits, from “Rock Your Body” to “Suit & Tie.”
Timberlake capped off the night by taking home the biggest prize of the evening, winning the Video of the Year Award for “Mirrors” from “The 20/20 Experience.”
Timberlake beat out Swift (“I Knew You Were Trouble”), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (“Thrift Shop”), Bruno Mars (“Locked Out Of Heaven”) and Robin Thick featuring T.I. & Pharrell (“Blurred Lines”). With all due respect to Macklemore, Lewis, and Mars, this was a three-horse race all along.
In a surprising but rousing move, it wasn’t the sleaziest or most mean-spirited video that won. It was the most heartwarming.
Yes, Thicke’s video featured some sexy people dancing to some sexy beats — but to many, the video (which also has a second unrated version) reeked of misogyny. It would appear that sex sells, but it doesn’t always win.
Meanwhile, Swift’s video was a thinly-veiled response to her split with One Direction star Harry Styles. Female empowerment is one thing; being catty and immature — more immature than your boyfriend who is four years your junior — just comes across as desperate and juvenile.
That leaves pop’s golden child, Justin Timberlake. And while it was the obvious choice to award him the evening’s top honor when he was also the recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, it seems the easy move was the right one all along.
“Mirrors” is a true music video in the sense that it tells a story through both sight and sound. Timberlake doesn’t appear until roughly six minutes in to the eight-minute-long masterpiece. “Mirrors” is a timeless love story, depicting a decades-long marriage — and a romance that stands the test of time.
In his awards acceptance speech, Timberlake acknowledged his grandparents, to whom the video is dedicated. The music industry can often be a cynical, shallow and materialistic world. “Mirrors” is the exact opposite, and credit MTV for recognizing that while the video may not be revolutionary by any means, its heart is in the right place. That in and of itself represents a change of pace.
In an inspirational move, the biggest star of the evening was rewarded for going back to the basics: for telling a pure, uplifting story with his art. Now if only something can be done about that way-too-short *NSYNC reunion.