On Thursday, May 1, the first iHeartRadio Music Awards were held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. These are the observations and questions I had over the course of the three-hour show.
1. Katy Perry talks about moving to L.A. from Santa Barbara as though she had to flee by foot across a barren desert when the truth is she drove 90 minutes.
2. “Timber” without Kesha is just…well, it’s just Pitbull.
3. Rihanna missing her first award because she’s stuck in traffic is a good reminder that L.A., for all its positive attributes, is still kind of terrible.
4. I sort of wish I were still stuck in traffic myself, if only because I’d be stuck in the same traffic as Rihanna.
5. Traffic is the great equalizer.
6. Luke Bryan makes me think that all country music stars have two first names. Logically, I know that’s not true, but it sounds right to me.
7. I wish the people standing in front of me and blocking my view of the stage were stuck in traffic.
8. Pitbull doesn’t thank Kesha when “Timber” wins for Best Collaboration. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more animosity toward Pitbull.
9. Justice for Kesha.
10. Chris Martin’s story about loving L.A. involves sitting in the cockpit while landing a plane, which is vaguely terrifying to me.
11. Why was Chris Martin allowed in the cockpit?
12. How many planes have I been on that were secretly landed by members of Coldplay?
13. Bastille is great, but I’m too far away to ogle Dan Smith, so I feel a little let down.
14. Even from this distance, I can at least appreciate how tall Dan Smith’s hair is.
15. Miley Cyrus wins Best Lyrics for “Wrecking Ball.” I mean, sure. That song has lyrics.
16. Billy Ray Cyrus accepting the award on Miley’s behalf gives me intense stage-parent vibes.
17. This “live” performance by Ed Sheeran is pre-recorded, and I’m livid.
18. We need to talk about what “live” means.
19. If I wanted to watch a video of Ed Sheeran performing, I could have stayed home. And avoided traffic.
20. As usual, Ariana Grande brings me back to the moment.
21. Where is Iggy Azalea?
22. The backup dancers are doing crazy flips. It’s almost enough to distract from the fact that Iggy Azalea isn’t there. Almost.
23. Justice for Iggy.
24. I can’t remember the last awards show I attended where Jared Leto wasn’t present.
25. Jared Leto accepting an award on behalf of Lorde is almost as weird as when Billy Ray Cyrus accepted an award on behalf of Miley.
26. Those were simpler times.
27. A new song by Michael Jackson is the only proof I need that heaven is real. Sorry, Colton Burpo.
28. As much as I’d like to see a Michael Jackson hologram, Usher moonwalking is a valid substitute.
29. I feel like I could moonwalk, but I’m not going to try. Let me operate under that delusion.
30. Rihanna wins another award for her fan army, #rihannanavy.
31. Shouldn’t Rihanna’s fans get to take home the award? I know that’s a lot of awards to hand out, but still.
32. Is #rihannanavy a reference to Battleship?
33. Where my #peitzmaniacs at?
34. There is no show that can’t be improved by the random addition of Jason Ritter.
35. Austin Mahone thanking God for an Instagram award that he won for a selfie is the low point of the night.
36. I just can’t really handle the idea of a God who has anything to do with selfies.
37. Which Instagram filter would God use?
38. Who is Austin Mahone?
39. Who is Rita Ora?
40. Hilary Duff presents Ariana Grande with the Young Influencer Award, which I would like to rename the I Survived Being a Disney/Nickelodeon Child Star Award.
41. Joe Manganiello shows up wearing leather. My mind is a blank slate.
42. I can no longer remember what I know Joe Manganiello from. Is it porn? I feel like it’s porn.
43. Thirty Seconds to Mars sings “City of Angels” along with that incredibly depressing montage of people talking about L.A., and I’m a little embarrassed on the city’s behalf.
44. Also I feel like L.A. still owes Kanye West an apology.
45. Despite how over-the-top “City of Angels” is, there’s something very poignant about it, especially interspersed with footage of people whose desire for fame has brought them nothing but disappointment and heartbreak.
46. No, you’re crying.
47. Shakira’s performance involves fake falling leaves, because what are seasons?
48. On the other hand, the entire night has been so aggressively L.A.-themed that a big “fuck you” to seasons feels appropriate.
49. Steven Tyler is the first person all night to acknowledge the absurd amount of cocaine that has powered so many of the people in this industry. Kudos.
50. I immediately forget the name of the guy presenting the Best Country Song award.
51. He makes a mildly homophobic joke about Luke Bryan wanting to grind against him. I no longer feel bad about forgetting his name.
52. Also, he should be so lucky to have Luke Bryan wanting to grind against him. We should all be so lucky.
53. Avicii wins for Best EDM Song of the Year, and my phone wins for best autocorrect of “Avicii.” (“Avocado.”)
54. Until tonight, I thought EDM was a party drug. It still might be.
55. The video of Aaron Paul introducing Arcade Fire involves him driving around town, so naturally I’m thinking of Need for Speed.
56. This is the first time I’ve ever thought about Need for Speed.
57. After hearing about how great it is to see Arcade Fire live, I’m on the edge of my seat. The last time I saw Arcade Fire was one of the greatest nights of my life.
58. Arcade Fire takes the stage. In the form of another pre-recorded video.
59. I’m shaking.
60. Everything is a lie.
61. I want to crawl under Pharrell’s hat.
62. Things Pharrell is, according to this montage: Picasso, a god, the person who made it cool to just be you. I need Pharrell’s publicist.
63. A Pharrell medley performed by Pharrell. I can’t even remember what this show is supposed to be celebrating, other than Pharrell.
64. Oh, right. L.A.
65. I wonder if the god Pharrell thanks is the same as Austin Mahone’s god of selfies.
66. Even though I’m seeing it with my own eyes, I don’t believe that Ryan Seacrest is as tall as Jennifer Lopez.
67. Rihanna wins all the awards, except for Best Hair. But if there were a Best Hair award, she’d win that too.
68. Why am I so charmed by Rihanna saying she’s a pain in the ass?
69. I guess I assume everyone on stage tonight is a pain in the ass in one way or another.
70. At the end of the day, I’m just really glad traffic cleared up.