The 2013 MuchMusic Video Awards threw down in Toronto last night, and the two-hour-long broadcast had plenty of highlights. Here are the seven best.
--First and foremost: Psy. He was a surprisingly charming co-host, cracking jokes in broken English and, best of all, working it to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" (new viral video?). Say what you will of his music, but the South Korean "Gangnam Style" star has a natural charisma that will certainly bolster his staying power (especially with Canadians, eh).
--Demi Lovato, in general. Girl is too cute. She looked a bit nervous on the red carpet ("Wait, what did you just say?" she responded to a face-to-face question), but was adorably awkward when accepting her award for International Video of the Year for "Heart Attack," adjusting her dress constantly and being very, very careful walking in those high-heels. She's a flesh-n-blood role model for young girls that's worth embracing.
--Marianas Trench arrived in mermaid costumes, complete with t-shirts air-brushed with busty bikini tops and sparkly, fin-like skirts. They won the award for "best arrival." Well done, boys.
--Classified's performance of "Inner Ninja," featuring David Myles. It was a quirky sight: a white Canadian rapper in camo cargo shorts dropping verses alongside Myles, who in a white suit jacket, tie, slicked-hair and glasses was a Buddy Holly doppelgänger. A choir of children, from tots to teens, sang the hook in the background. The duo bowed to each other, ninja-style, at the song's gong-clang ending.
--Ed Sheeran, introduced by his pal and new neighbor (and.. love interest?) Taylor Swift, playing "Lego House" alone on that acoustic guitar of his (you know, with the "+" sticker on it). It's still a touching song and in contrast to the overblown pop spectacle of other performances, his appearance was the most understated and genuine of the evening.
--Serena Ryder. Who knew Canada had so much "undiscovered" talent? I'm a devout fan of female singer-songwriters with a country bent, but this is the first I've heard of the Juno Award-winning rocker from Toronto. And she killed it with her performance of "What I Wouldn't Do" and "Stompa," both from her sixth (!!!?!) studio album Harmony. Pick it up, ASAP. She played a sparkly-red/pink vintage Danelectro guitar on the more tender "What I Wouldn't Do," then switched to a Flying V (girl with guitar: a rarity at the MMVAs; girl with badass rock guitar: even rarer). She led her band through the rollicking, foot-somping jam and wailed on solos. Her pipes sounded tough and rough, but full of pop currency.
--Avril Lavigne. First, she caused a stir walking the red carpet in a spiky crown with her soon-to-be husband, Nickleback's Chad Kroeger. Then later she took the stage for a performance of latest single "Here's to Never Growing Up," which won International Video of the Year by a Canadian. Confetti! Leather pants! Smoke machines! Sexy dance moves! Hot Topic-clothed teens invading the state at the song's end! Avril has in fact never grown up.
--Drake's surprise appearance to accept Hip Hop Video of the Year and Director of the Year for "Started From the Bottom," his rags-to-riches story starring his hometown: Toronto. "Obviously I want to thank the city of Toronto first and foremost," he said. "It's great to be home."
--Taylor Swift gushing Canadian love during her Favorite International Artist of Group acceptance speech. "This is amazing. Thank you so much," she said. "I just want to thank MuchMusic for playing music videos, and for giving us a reason to put a visual element to the music. To the fans, I've had an amazing weekend with you—two sold-out shows. You're the reason we keep coming back to Canada. So thank you so much for everything."
--Marianas Trench's packages. During their performance of "Desperate Measures," the boys wore their Risky Business-style outfits of white button-up shirts and underwear. Frontman Josh Ramsay's package was, ahem, there for the audience to enjoy.
Check out our 2013 MMVA gallery for all the best moments & more: