Lil Nas X earned video of the year at Sunday MTV VMAs on a night that Justin Bieber victoriously returned to the stage as a performer and as the winner of the artist of the year. “I do not take this for granted,” Lil Nas X said while receiving the night’s final award for the music video for his song, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
Much of the early event belonged to Bieber, who for his first VMAs performance in six years rappelled from the ceiling of the Barclays Center at the beginning of the show for a powerful performance of “Stay” with Kid LAROI and then his single “Ghost.”
The VMAs proclaimed MTV’s 40th anniversary, combining moments between early network celebrities like Cyndi Lauper and show opener Madonna with high-octane actions by newer celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Camila Cabello and Chloe.
Bieber was the leading candidate going into the ceremony. He bagged the best pop honour for “Peaches,” a song that starred Daniel Caesar and Giveon – who accompanied him onstage.
Wearing baggy clothes and a hoodie, Bieber expressed his appreciation for the awards being in-person and thanked his wife, Hailey, for supporting him.
“As we know, there’s so much going on in the world as we speak,” Bieber said during his speech after earning artist of the year. “I know you guys have probably heard it a lot. We are in unprecedented times with this COVID thing that’s happening right now. It’s a big deal. Music is such an amazing outlet to be able to reach people and bring us all together. That’s why we are here right now. We’re all here together.”
Opening the show, Madonna said to the screaming fans: “They said we wouldn’t last. But we’re still here.”
Following that Olivia Rodrigo delivered her hit “good 4 u,” she collected the night’s first honour for her huge hit single “Drivers License.” She later won best new artist.
“I feel so grateful that I get to write music, make stuff that I love and call it my job,” said Rodrigo, the first-time competitor. Earlier in the awards, the singer called this the “most magical year of my life.”
Jennifer Lopez, who three days before made her rekindled relationship with Ben Affleck official on the red carpet of his new movie ” The Last Duel” at the Venice International Film Festival, presented Rodrigo her trophy.
Billie Eilish won the fan-voted video for good for her song “Your Power.” In receiving the award, Alicia Keys kissed her on the cheek, talked about the happiness of writing the song and women empowerment.
Eilish and Rosalía won best Latin video for their song “Lo Vas A Olvidar.” BTS won three awards comprising a group of the year, best K-pop and song of summer for “Butter.”
“We need to protect our women at all costs,” said Eilish, while her brother-producer Finneas praised his sister from his seat. “We need to remember that we all have power. We have to remember not to abuse it.”
Lauper, who introduced Bieber with his first award, pledged for equal rights for women.
Olivia Rodrigo delivers “Good 4 U” at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center. (Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)“Girls still want to have fun,” said Lauper, known for the classic music “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “But we also want to have funds, equal pay, control over our bodies, you know, fundamental rights.”
Lil Nas X set the stage on fire with Jack Harlow, following his controversial song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” Kacey Musgraves and Shawn Mendes also hit the stage.
Olympic gymnastic winner Simone Biles introduced Doja Cat who went aerial during her performance. With wires holding her up, Doja Cat glided over the crowd and landed on stage while performing her songs “Been Like This” and “You Right.”
Before the show, Machine Gun Kelly got into a heated discussion on the red carpet with UFC fighter Conner McGregor. The video revealed McGregor being held up by security from Kelly who later won best alternative for his song “My Ex’s Best Friend,” starring Blackbear.
Kelly said he originally didn’t want to publish the song but thanked his label for thinking otherwise. He also gave thanks to the director of the song’s music video, even after their squabble on set.
“I haven’t talked to you since we did because we got into a fight on set, but it’s a great video and I’m so glad we won,” he said. “We won!”
Megan Thee Stallion arrived at the show as the second-leading candidate with six nominations. BTS, Doja Cat, Drake, Giveon, Lil Nas X and Rodrigo each had five nods.
The Foo Fighters performed and then received the Global Icon Award, an honour given for the first time at the VMAs. The award acknowledges an artist or band “whose unparalleled career and continued impact and influence has maintained a unique level of global success in music and beyond.”
The prestigious honour was formally presented at the annual MTV Europe Music Awards. Past recipients comprise Queen, Eminem and Whitney Houston.
The rock band – including Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee – performed many of their hits along with “Learn to Fly” and “Shame Shame.” It was their first performance at the VMAs since 2007.
Eilish introduced the Global Icon Award to the group, who thanked MTV veterans from Kurt Loder to Tabitha Soren.
“Thank you very much for this award,” Grohl said. “We’ll see you in another 26 years.”