By Jayjay Epega @DGirlJay
It’s been 21 years since I last attended the MTV EMAs in London where I was assigned to look after George Michael (who won the best male award), a night I will never forget. I am so proud to have been a part of this iconic brand and enterprise, which is still going from strength to strength. Never losing its appeal for a moment, it still evokes excitement, intrigue and wonder.
Flash back to the 1996 MTV EMas – George Michael picks up his award at 11.15″
Back in 1996, it was hosted by Robbie Williams and took place at Alexandra Palace. In those days names like U2, Bjork, Beck, Eros Ramazotti and the Backstreet Boys were on the hot list…fast forward to 2017 and we have Rita Ora as host, who will also be performing. Additional performances are by Global Icon honorees U2 (still going strong), Eminem, Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Liam Payne, Camila Cabello, Kesha, The Killers, Stormzy, Travis Scott, French Montana, David Guetta, Charli XCX and Clean Bandit with featured artists Zara Larsson, Anne-Marie and Julia Michaels. James Bay, Jared Leto, Daya, Natalie Dormer, Madison Beer and Sabrina Carpenter will present awards at the show.
I remember the week’s lead up to the grand event itself! Behind each massive MTV EMAs is an EMA-zing story of a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes, which is why the MTV EMA team brings you an annual fascinating behind-the-scenes story. With each city the MTV EMAs is held in, the show brings different stories and factoids, to give each show its own unique flavor.
Here are some of the fascinating facts from the 2017 MTV EMAs at The SSE Arena, Wembley in London:
THE VENUE – STEEPED IN MUSIC HISTORY
- The Beatles played their last ever UK gig at The SSE Arena, Wembley as part of the NME Annual Poll Winners’ concert on 1 May 1966.
- The arena has played host to a lot of music icons – legendary Prince played at the arena 35 times; David Bowie graced the stage on 17 occasions and Whitney Houston performed 29 times.
- The first act ever to headline the venue solo was The Monkees in 1967. With Lulu as their opening act, they played five shows in June and July that year to audiences of 10,000 per show.
- Alice Cooper and Status Quo have played at the venue every decade since the ‘70s. Alice Cooper described the arena as “one of those venues that gives you goose-bumps when you walk in the door” and added his handprints to the Arena Square of Fame outside the front of the venue in 2012.
- Following a £36million refurbishment, Depeche Mode reopened the venue in 2006. After 72 years pointing the other way, the new and improved venue faced towards the stadium complex.
- THE CONCEPT: Julio Himede reprises his role as this year’s set designer. Inspired by the fact that there is still an empty Olympic swimming pool from 1934 under the arena floor (which played host to the 1948 Summer Olympics), his concept for this year’s show is an “Olympic field of play.”
- Creating an industry first for any awards show, the entire stage floor is elevated by nearly five meters. It is also the biggest EMA stage ever built at 60 metres long x 28 metres wide with a programmable LED floor for different LED installations throughout the show. It would take 20 hydraulic lifts to make the whole stage work. One stage dedicated for large props would take one large hydraulic lift to raise the stage as high as eight metres.
- Julio also designed the staging at Saturday night’s (Nov. 11) MTV Presents Trafalgar Square with obelisk inspired structures in the space.
DIGITAL – TAKING IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL
- Another awards first at this year’s MTV EMAs – an augmented reality effect via the MTV EMA app that lets users interact with the night’s live performances.
- The EMA A/R functionality allows fans a real-time connection to the live event space and multiple performances, by triggering objects and animations that they can interact with.
- With select performances, this functionality will trigger a special effects show unique to the current performance on air, that will take place in your living room, live at the show, or wherever you are watching (via the EMA app/phone camera).
- Fans can take photos and video clips of themselves and their friends interacting with the special effects, and share on their social platforms.
- Bringing in the local community – The ladies from the Indian community of Wembley will run a Dosa stand for crew and artists on Saturday.
- Truckloads of food from Covent Garden are being delivered every morning at 4am.
- The catering team is preparing 20,000 meals for crew and artists onsite at the MTV EMAs, including 6,000 cupcakes. And as always, the catering team creates elaborate displays to accompany all meals because you eat with your eyes first!
- No party is complete without drinks – 12,000 Bacardi rum cocktails will be served to VIP guests, including Original Bacardi Mojito. 16 bars and 180 bar staff are on site at the SSE Arena to serve all EMA guests. And let’s not forget six tonnes of ice will be keeping everyone’s drinks super chilled and refreshing, even in this chilly weather!
BACKSTAGE AND FOR THE ARTISTS
- A 100,000-pound diamond and gold encrusted pair of Focal headphones, a collaboration piece with jeweller Tournaire; a 25,000-pound Scala-Utopia pair of speakers; 27 art pieces by Danny Minnick will be displayed in the artist spa and walkway. Half of these pieces were music-inspired and specifically painted for the MTV EMAs.
- Available in the artist lounge are facials spas by BeautyLab, spray tan by Fakebake and massage treatments by Ibiza Angels; a Bering Ice vodka bar offering and frozen cocktails; also customized skate boards by Penny, Italian sunglasses and eyewear by Kite, and streetwear by Forty Clothing.
- 30 six-feet plants and 12 floral displays
- A backstage concierge with a nutritionist, personal trainer and doctor brought by AMC Fit
- This year’s show will house 58 artist dressing rooms.
- THE CREATORS: As always, it takes dozens of extremely skilled makeup artists and hair stylists to put together all the looks for the MTV EMAs each year. The most sought-after appointment for hair and make-up is two hours before Red Carpet. This slot is booked up months in advance, from as early as August.
- MAKE-UP BY NUMBERS: To put all the MTV EMAs looks together, the 2017 show will have 60 more crates of make-up than the usual and will have on-hand: about 200 bespoke eyelashes; 500 hairbands and thousands of hair pins and grips. If we laid out all the hair extensions to be used on the show, it would lap Wembley Stadium. The MTV EMA make-up room holds hundreds of thousands of ££ worth of product with each kit costing £20k – £40k. Each make-up artist has about 60kg of kit.
- WARDROBE: At least 400 fittings over three days, including 600 pairs of shoes and about 14 hours of ironing. 300 metres of fabric and trimming have passed through the Wardrobe department. Here’s a sneak bit… it’s all about the rivets and hoops… high-waisted trousers and cinch belts! With shopping from H&M and Zara, the wardrobe team is also delighted to get their mitts on a Savannah underwear collection for the dancers!
- About 750 professional dancers were registered to attend, of which 123 dancers were booked on the show – the highest number of dancers booked for an MTV EMA show in the last decade. Dancers came from all over the world including Canada, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy and Spain.
- This year’s MTV EMA dance choreographer is Liam Lunnis.
The 2017 MTV EMAs will be hosted and feature a performance by Rita Ora, with additional performances by Global Icon honorees U2, Eminem, Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Liam Payne, Camila Cabello, Kesha, The Killers, Stormzy, Travis Scott, French Montana, David Guetta, Charli XCX and Clean Bandit with featured artists Zara Larsson, Anne-Marie and Julia Michaels. James Bay, Jared Leto, Daya, Natalie Dormer, Madison Beer and Sabrina Carpenter will present awards at the show.
The 2017 MTV EMAs, one of the biggest global music events of the year that celebrates the hottest artists from around the world, will broadcast to MTV channels worldwide from The SSE Arena, Wembley in London on Sunday, 12 November at 8:00pm GMT*.
About the 2017 MTV EMAS
My friend Richard Godfrey is Executive Producer
The 2017 MTV EMAs will broadcast LIVE across the globe on Sunday, 12th November at 8:00PM GMT** from The SSE Arena, Wembley in London, England in partnership with #LondonIsOpen. One of the biggest global music events of the year that celebrates the hottest artists from around the world, the MTV EMAs bring music fans a unique, multi-platform experience across MTV’s global network of more than 60 channels and over 300 digital media properties and platforms. Follow @MTVEMA on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (@MTVEMA) and Instagram, and join the conversation with #MTVEMA. Bruce Gillmer and Richard Godfrey are Executive Producers for the 2017 MTV EMAs. Debbie Phillips and Chloe Mason are Producers. Hamish Hamilton is Director.
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