After a pretty rough 2020, artists everywhere have clearly been itching to create. There’s no other way to describe the energy at the VMAs on August 30. There, artists like Lady Gaga, DaBaby, The Weeknd and more used their platforms to make political and social statements, to turn masks into fashionable face wear, and to celebrate the power that music has to bring us all together.
Let’s be honest: The Canadian superstar always brings his A-Game, but on Sunday night he kicked off the VMAs with one heck of a performance from the Edge at Hudson Yards (aka the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere). Wearing his effective bloody makeup, The Weeknd’s rendition of “Blinding Lights” was mind-blowing and raw from beginning to end. It all wrapped with a helicopter and an amazing display of fireworks, adding some serious magnitude to the performance. It was definitely a memorable way to kick off the night, and it felt pretty suitable later on when the song won him an award for best R&B. “It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment,” he said. “So I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor. Thank you.”
At the end of the night when the Canadian artist took home the award for Video of the Year, he had the exact same message for fans. “Again, hard to celebrate so I’m going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor. Thank you,” he added.
Fans weren’t surprised when Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain On Me” took home an early award for Best Collaboration. But some people online were a little confused as to why Gaga accepted the award in what appeared to be a bird costume... 'but make it fashion' (Iris van Herpen Couture, to be specific.) Considering this is the same performer who once wore a meat dress to the VMAs, maybe they shouldn’t have been.
Whether fans loved it or hated it, the outfit was short-lived. When Gaga came back to the stage to accept the award for Song of the Year on behalf of her and Grande, she had on a lime green frock by Christopher John Rogers with a kraken-inspired mask, making it clear that she was all about the masks and costume changes on Sunday night.
If anyone had reason for all of those costume changes on Sunday night though, it was Gaga. After all, she was also named Artist of the Year, plus she received the inaugural MTV Tricon Award for being the inspiring trailblazer that she is. “I might sound like a broken record, but wear your mask. It’s a sign of respect,” she signed off during that last speech.
Of course you can’t have Gaga at your show and not have her do a set. But to say that her Chromatica sampling was jaw-dropping would be an understatement. It included costume changes, highly choreographed dance moves, piano playing and more. In fact, it probably left many fans wondering how much cardio Gaga must do on the daily to be able to sing and dance like that. Meanwhile, Grande did join her for a performance of “Rain On Me,” which very much felt like a nod to Prince thanks to all of that gorgeous purple they used.
There may not have been a live audience at Sunday’s show, but DaBaby and dance crew Jabbawockeez proved that you can still deliver an impactful performance without one. The artist performed a medley of “PEEPHOLE” “Blind” and “Rockstar” in front of a CGI screen that included a virtual ride in a police car and ended with a burning city. It was a powerful performance, one that called out the racial injustices that frustratingly continue to take place across America.
Miley fans were treated to a colourful performance from the “Wrecking Ball” singer when she went full-on disco (including hanging from an actual oversized disco ball) for her performance of her new single, “Midnight Sky.” Miley performed the entire thing solo, as the lights changed colours to put all kinds of artistic filters on her that felt very… Miley. In comparison to some of her past VMA performances (ahem, specifically with Robin Thicke) it was actually all very tame, but entertaining nonetheless.
Host Keke Palmer and presenter Jaden Smith both said during the preshow that the performance they were most looking forward to was BTS, and it’s safe to say that an entire (BTS) Army shared in that sentiment. The guys didn’t disappoint with their high-energy show for “Dynamite.” Decked out in suits and ties, the guys sang and danced in perfect unison against a rotating backdrop of flashing lights, billboards, cityscapes and a sunset. The performance was so much more than their VMA debut though: it also solidified their place in history as the first Korean act to perform at all four major music ceremonies in the US: the BBMAs, AMAs, Grammys and now the VMAs.
Thanks to her skills overseeing the VMAs on Sunday night, the 27-year-old proved once again that she is an undeniably charming host. Palmer did everything from commemorate Chadwick Boseman with a touching tribute off the top of the show, to touching on all of our feelings about the (mostly) armpit of a year that has been 2020. Add in the fact that she brought energy, impersonations, and even a live performance of “Snack” to the overall night in between, and it’s probably a safe bet that the powers-that-be behind the show (could we call them the Moon People?) are already wondering if they can book Palmer again for the 2021 show.
If you somehow hadn’t yet heard of Doja Cat, you definitely know who she is after Sunday night. Aside from killing it with her laser-filled performance of “Say So” and “Like That” during the show, she was also named the Best New Artist. “I know it’s been a really hard year. I just want everybody to stay safe. Take care of yourselves,” she said before thanking her fans and fighting back tears. “I love you, and thank you. Stay safe, and thanks mom.”
pic.twitter.com/PSjcxTfRvC— Video Music Awards (@vmas) August 31, 2020
Now that’s how you end a speech.Watch performances, highlights and the full VMA show here, and be sure to catch the MTV VMA Post-Show too, airing Monday, August 31 at 10e/7p on MTV Canada and Much.[video_embed id='2021520']BEFORE YOU GO: Jennifer Garner has relatable reaction to ‘The Office’ finale[/video_embed]