The big story from the 28th Annual Video Music Awards, which aired on MTV Thursday night: There was no big story. "Water-cooler fodder was scarce at this year's show," say Meredith Blake and Gerrick D. Kennedy at the Los Angeles Times, conceding that Democratic National Convention arguably offered more thrills than the awards ceremony. "Election years really aren't good for MTV trophy shows," agrees Jen Chaney at the Washington Post. But fear not, music fans: Even in lieu of a headline-worthy Beyonce baby bump or an "I'ma let you finish" moment, the VMAs still had their highlights:
1. One Direction sweeps
The big winners at the VMAs were the five members of tween-friendly boy band One Direction, which won all three awards for which it was nominated: Best New Artist, Best Pop Video, and Most Share-worthy Video. The British/Irish band also took the stage to perform their hit "One Thing," in a performance which "conquered the hearts of about every teenage girl in the world," says Elena Sheppard at PolicyMic.
2. Frank Ocean brings the house down
He won no actual awards, but Frank Ocean's on-stage rendition of "Thinkin' Bout You" from his album channel ORANGE "steals the show," says The Hollywood Reporter. Other artists (Rihanna, Pink, Taylor Swift) sang live, but the R&B singer's stripped-down performance "stood out among that company," says Kia Makarechi at The Huffington Post. At least one celebrity fan agreed with the critics, notes CBS News: During the performance, pop singer Lady Gaga tweeted with apparent enthusiasm, "Watch frank ocean steal this whole show. I'm dead."
3. The final trailer for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2
One notable VMA moment had nothing to do with music: The release of the final trailer for the final Twilight movie, which will hit theaters on November 16, 2012. "The drama and action levels look to have been upped considerably for this finale, and fans of the book series will likely be pleased with the results," says Adam Chitwood at Collider, approvingly, if blandly.
4. Rihanna and Chris Brown kiss
Video footage of the brief kiss between the former lovers, which occurred after Rihanna won Video of the Year for "We Found Love, has earned Zapruder-level analysis from a number of gossip websites. (The couple separated in 2009 after Brown physically abused Rihanna.) "A truly shocking moment," says Radar Online. "Oh, Ri-Ri. You break my heart," adds Anna Breslaw at Jezebel.