Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys delivered standout performances at the 2012 MTV European Music Awards, held in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday night. The event, appropriately hosted by German model Heidi Klum, marked a big evening for Swift, who took home three awards and delivered the closing performance.
Swift, the winner of the best female act, best live act and best look, chose current single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Dressed in a glitzy ringmaster’s getup, Swift centered the number around a circus theme. While the number offered predictable personality and pop, the vocals were a bit shaky and had a bit of assistance from a pre-recorded track in spots.
Alicia Keys, on the other hand, delivered vocally, but her number got lost in a sea of production. “New Day” and “Girl on Fire” contained several production extras in the form of pyrotechnics and dancing that actually distracted, rather than enhanced, her performance. Dressed in an all-black pantsuit, Keys began with “New Day,” opening with brash struts, flanked by six backup dancers.
While Keys deserves credit for trying to bring a more dynamic tone to her live performances, the she seemed a bit uneasy with the added movement. Balancing the choreography with the vocal acrobatics of “New Day” proved a challenge, with Keys needing a lesson from the Beyonce school of simultaneous sing and dance. Indeed, no one in the industry can juggle both tasks the way Beyonce manages to, which made “New Day” a risky endeavor just for the comparative factor.
Keys appeared more in her element behind her trademark piano, delivering a chill-inducing rendition of “Girl on Fire”. While the ring of fire that descended from the stage was initially impressive, the emitting sparks served as a bit of a distraction. The dancing in this number was kept to a minimum, and the performance was better for it.
Keys also paid tribute to her idol, the late Whitney Houston, as Houston received the Global Icon accolade award. “As a little girl I looked up to her so much, and seeing her perform with that voice and that presence allowed me to dream of creating music that touched people in the same way,” said Keys. Other big winners included One Direction and the newly-single Justin Bieber.
Here is a complete list of the evening’s winners:
Best Song: Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”
Best New: One Direction
Best Female: Taylor Swift
Best Male: Justin Bieber
Best Pop: Justin Bieber
Best Live: Taylor Swift
Best Hip-Hop: Nicki Minaj
Best Rock: Linkin Park
Best Electronic: David Guetta
Best Alternative: Lana Del Rey
Best Video: PSY, “Gangnam Style”
Best Look: Taylor Swift
Biggest Fans: One Direction
Best World Stage: Justin Bieber
Best Push: Carly Rae Jepsen