The MTV VMAs are always full of twerking, barely-there outfits and lots of dancing — and, after a lackluster awards season dampened by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has never been a better time for those antics.
On Sunday night, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was full of the hottest names in music who kept the world entertained and full of hope during such a dark time.
The big winner of the night: Video of the Year victor Lil Nas X, who saluted “the gay agenda” in his acceptance for “MONTERO (Call Me By your Name).”
“Let’s go, gay agenda!” shouted the 22-year-old singer, who recently reveled in a new mystery boyfriend. “I love you guys so much. I will not take this for granted.”
The ceremony, hosted by sky-high performer Doja Cat, led its musical lineup with a hoodie-wearing Justin Bieber, who quickly won for Best Pop recording and scored the most nominations this year with seven nods. The 27-year-old, in his first VMA performance since 2015, offered up his chart-topper “Stay” (a duet with rapper Kid Laroi) and “Ghost” from his sixth album, “Justice.”
Bieber also landed the Artist of the Year award and alluded to the hardships of COVID-19 in his acceptance speech.
“Music is such an amazing opportunity and outlet to be able to reach people and to bring us all together. And that’s why we’re all here, right?” he told the receptive audience. “We are all here together. You know, we’ve got more in common than we don’t. And I look around here and see so many beautiful faces. And, you know, I believe the best is yet to come.”
In a surprise appearance, leather-wearing, flesh-baring, age-defying Material Girl Madonna kicked off the show with a salute to MTV’s origins — as well as hers — saying the network “changed my life, changed music and created a whole new art form.”
Madame X, 63, is no stranger to MTV and the VMAs stage, of course. She gave viewers a sultry rendition of her hit “Like a Virgin” at the first awards show in 1984. And who could forget her 2003 liplock with both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, which still stands out as one of the wildest moments in the show’s history?
“We’re still here, motherf–kers!” Madonna told the screaming audience. “Happy 40th, MTV!”
The 2021 show was jam-packed with performances from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, Camila Cabello, Chlöe of Chloe x Halle, Jack Harlow, Kacey Musgraves, The Kid LAROI, Kim Petras, Lil Nas X, Machine Gun Kelly, Normani, Ozuna, Polo G, Shawn Mendes, Swae Lee, Swedish House Mafia, Tainy and Twenty One Pilots.
A big snub of the night went to rappers Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, the dynamic duo behind the spicy single “WAP” who were nominated for plenty of Moonperson awards, including Video of the Year, but came up empty.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Foo Fighters also received the Global Icon Award during the ceremony.
Here is the final list of winners from the live broadcast.
Video of the Year
WINNER: Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”
Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”
DJ Khaled ft. Drake – “POPSTAR” (Starring Justin Bieber)
Doja Cat ft. SZA – “Kiss Me More”
Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”
The Weeknd – “Save Your Tears”
WINNER: John Mayer – “Last Train Home”
Evanescence – “Use My Voice”
Foo Fighters – “Shame Shame”
The Killers – “My Own Soul’s Warning”
Kings Of Leon – “The Bandit”
Lenny Kravitz – “Raise Vibration”
WINNER: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open”
Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid – “BROWN SKIN GIRL”
Chris Brown and Young Thug – “Go Crazy”
Giveon – “HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY”
H.E.R. ft. Chris Brown – “Come Through”
SZA – “Good Days”
WINNER: Harry Styles – “Treat People With Kindness” – Choreography by: Paul Roberts
Ariana Grande – “34+35” – Choreography by: Brian Nicholson & Scott Nicholson
BTS – “Butter” –Choreography by: SON SUNG DEUK With BHM PERFORMANCE DIRECTING TEAM
Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits” – Choreography by: Natricia Bernard