Big names, small worries, 'controlled chaos' at tonight's MMVAs
Joe Jonas is going to enjoy his gig hosting a large, unique party: the Much Music Video Awards.
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When Joe Jonas takes the stage tonight, he expects he’ll screw up. Once or twice, anyhow.
He’ll be co-hosting the iHeartRadio Canada Much Music Video Awards with Brampton R&B star Alessia Cara, who’s making her debut as an awards show host. Naturally, she asked for advice from showbiz vet Jonas, who told her he’s “probably going to mess up too.”
“It isn’t worth being upset if something goes wrong. That’s just part of it . . . so I’m just going with the flow and laughing certain things off,” Jonas said during a phone interview. “And I’ll have a lot of fun and probably learn some cool things.”
The annual awards show, at the Bell Media headquarters at 299 Queen St. W., honours the year’s best music videos and will air at 9 p.m. on Much.
Jonas, current member of the dance-rock band DNCE and former member of the Jonas Brothers, said it will “be pretty cool to see how we’re going to do together.” He and Cara will be joined by presenters Tatiana Maslany, Carly Rae Jepsen, YouTube personality Tyler Oakley and more.
In a world where music videos are increasingly less prevalent, “the MMVAs are still an event that brings Queen St. to a halt,” Alan Cross, veteran Canadian broadcaster and host of The Ongoing History of New Music for the Edge, told the Star.
The event started in 1990 — a very different time for music videos, which the channel, then known as MuchMusic, played constantly — but Cross notes, “They still get lots of people out. It is their biggest marketing event of the year. People line up outside. If done properly, the event can turn into TV ad dollars.”
John Kampilis, executive producer of the awards show, says they give out 1,000 wristbands for spots inside the parking lot alone. Every year, a few thousand people take to the streets as well.
“We’re so well known around the world because we’re a show you don’t see anywhere else,” he said. “There’s no outdoor award show for fans anywhere.”
Over the years the MMVAs have developed a reputation as a big, lively party backstage. In 2006, producers told the Star, they served up 14,000 hors d’oeuvres and 9,500 beverages chilled on 700 kg of ice. However, neither the trophies nor the snacks are the draw: the stars are.
There will be 10 artists — including DNCE, Lorde and Niall Horan — performing during the broadcast but, according to Kampilis, more than 100 people will hit the stage, from presenters to winners to performers, dancers and choirs.
He estimates just under 1,000 people are involved in the planning and execution of the show, including the technical crew, creative team, graphic designers, floor directors, stage manager, lighting team and more.
“It’s a lot of controlled chaos that happens all around us all night long,” he said.
The awards will also have new elements this year, including more theatrical sets than ever before.
“We have a lot of artists who are bringing a lot of theatre to the stage. There are more set designs happening on the stage this year than before,” Kampilis said. “Almost every band has come to the table with huge and challenging creative ideas that we’re trying to execute. We’ve gone out to every construction house in Toronto to build these sets.”
Cross said the MMVAs exist for at least three commercial reasons: they tend to be profitable for the TV channel; they raise the profile of the artists; and they can bring new life to a video release that’s been out for a while.
Jonas believes the show is especially successful because it does a good job of “balancing the awards that aren’t specific to actual video.”
But that’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate the music video side of things. Jonas said he believes “it’s something that will come back around in a big way someday soon.”
“We’re supervisual people. I think our attention span is getting less and less, so people are being more creative with how they come up with videos,” he said. “Somebody like Beyoncé, she created an entire movie. Although she isBeyoncé, there’s hope there for younger artists to be able to be creative.”
The video side of the industry has been important to Jonas for some time. The 27-year-old remembers growing up dreaming about appearing on MTV’s Total Request Live, whose decade-long run ended in 2008. He and siblings Nick and Kevin appeared on the show as the Jonas Brothers.
“The goal was to have the biggest crowd outside and get your video to No. 1, and that was just calling in and voting,” Jonas said. “There was a beauty to it. You felt connected to those artists. I remember growing up watching Eminem or the Backstreet Boys going on TRL and it was such a phenomenon.”
Now, as a member of DNCE, known for their hit “Cake by the Ocean,” Jonas plans to “continue creating and growing DNCE as a band and see where that can go.”
He also hopes to explore other ventures, including helping other artists create and produce records, and his passion for food, something he has begun through his involvement in two L.A. restaurants.
“And a few coffee shops will be opening soon so I’m working on different stuff,” he said. “Fingers crossed that can grow into something bigger.”
Video of the Year nominees
“R.E.D.,” A Tribe Called Red feat. Yasiin Bey, Narcy & Black Bear
“Fireproof,” Coleman Hell
“Glowed Up,” Kaytranada feat. Anderson.Paak
“Sleep in the Heat,” PUP
“Mercy,” Shawn Mendes
Red carpet performers: Jessie Reyez, Kardinal Offishall
By the numbers:
More than 1 million: Pounds of steel and gear in the stages
237,000: Watts of audio
11,000: Feet of cable used for the red carpet
5,900: Total feet of barricades
955: Number of people it takes to put on the MMVAs each year
325: Number of two-way radios used by MMVAs staff
53: Kilometres of fibre cable (audio/video)
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