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Kanye's back! 5 VMA moments to watch for

Not since the days when MTV's raison d'etre was to play hot new tunes (psst: a long time ago) has anyone actually cared about who won what or took home which at the Video Music Awards.

In fact, with the exception of 2009, when Taylor Swift topped Beyonce and incurred the stage-rushing crazy of Kanye West ("I'm gonna let you finish..."), I can't remember a single other "winner" EVER at the show, the latest of which airs 9 p.m. Sunday from Jay Z's sparkly new Barclays Center palace in Brooklyn.

And yet, much like MTV itself, the VMAs bask in style over substance and have zero problem putting more stock in yowza watercooler moments than Moonman statues. How can you forget a matrimonial Madonna writhing on the stage, and Madonna kissing Britney and Xtina, and Britney gamboling with an albino Burmese python?

Rest assured there will be more writhing and kissing and gamboling Sunday. Plus no formal host this year means even more potential nuttiness. So with that, here are five "moments" to watch for at the 2013 VMAs:

1) Lady Gaga's Opener: Gaga's in a bit of a performance-art pickle these days. Although her music, including current cut Applause that she'll perform Sunday, is perfectly accessible dance pop, her oddball shtick is starting to grate: paint-smeared faces, deliberately awkward, ugly short films. As a result, sales of Applause haven't been as sturdy as expected. If Gaga really wanted to shock — and right her waning fanbase a bit — she'll rock out Applause, a song that grows on you in good ways, relatively straight.

2) No Sleep 'Til Miley: I had to look up Miley Cyrus' height the other day, 'cause after seeing her provocative all-legs promo spot for the VMAs, she appeared to be about 6-foot-8 and, well, about to break her parents' heart. (Cyberspace says 5-foot-5; must be the stilettos.) The Artist Formerly Known as Hannah is fully intent on stealing the show one way or another. That she's performing grind-appropriate single We Can't Stop should help.

3) The Return of Kanye: Now this is going to be good. The brashest, boldest cut on West's new album, Yeezus, is the Godzilla-sized Black Skinhead. And North West's papa will indeed be performing that. I'm a Kanye fan — outbursts and eccentricities and all — so I'm hoping he doesn't act all mopey and hurt just because he was booed at Dodgers Stadium the other day. Kanye being Kanye is good art — and even better television.

4) 'N Sync Reunion? First it was definite. Then it wasn't. Now it's a maybe. Or something. Which leads me to believe Justin Timberlake, who's receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and his former boy-band mates will definitely reunite in some shape or form. Watch for the fakeout: The 'N Sync-ers will wave off crowd demands ... then bust into a medley of Bye Bye Bye, Pop and (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.

5) Daft Punk & Stephen Colbert Join Forces? This is just a feeling, an itch, my grinning guess, but I bet Daft Punk, with Pharrell in tow, wind up inviting Stephen Colbert to join them for Get Lucky. Daft Punk ditched on an appearance on Colbert's Comedy Central show, so the sly satirist dutifully tweaked them by doing a star-studded video for the No. 1 hit, including a boogie-down in Henry Kissinger's office. Tremendous stuff, and it would be just like Colbert to tack one more laugh onto a killer gag.

Sean Daly can be reached at Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Kanye's back! 5 VMA moments to watch for 08/23/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 5:47pm]
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