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The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards: The Highlights

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) took place this past Sunday, and to say I was on edge going in would be an understatement.

Plenty of award shows have been delayed due to COVID-19, and the events that have been kept on virtually have been … less than enticing. It is hard to capture the spirit and energy of an award show without the live crowd reactions or the winners actually being there. 

However, MTV pulled off all the stops to create what turned out to be the best VMA ceremony in recent years. 

The Host: Actress and singer Keke Palmer made VMA history by becoming the first Black woman to host, and she killed it. Palmer opened up the show by paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman and condemning police brutality. Throughout the show, she had little skits that kept the show moving and even performed a song off her new project “Virgo Tendencies, Pt. I.” MTV could not have picked a better host if they tried, and thank god they did not.

The Stage: Obviously with the pandemic going on, MTV had to think out of the box in terms of staging. And that they did. With multiple outdoor venues spread all across New York City, MTV had to have paid top dollar for visual effects. Everything looked as if it was in outer space, and you couldn’t tell where exactly anyone was at a particular time. It gave a sense of imagination, something that has been lost in these times we find ourselves in.

The Winners: Lady Gaga cleaned up, winning five awards including the coveted MTV Tricon Award for her contributions across the entertainment industry and “Artist of the Year.” The Weeknd won the biggest prize of the night, “Video of the Year” for his single “Blinding Lights.” BTS made VMA history by being the first Asian act to ever win the Best Pop category, beating mainstays like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Megan Thee Stallion won Best Hip-Hop for “Savage,” and Doja Cat won her first VMA for Best New Artist.

The Performances: The VMAs have been known for their shocking and show-stopping performances. This year was no different. Each artist had creative control of what they wanted their stage to look like. The Weeknd opened the show with an explosive performance of “Blinding Lights.” DaBaby took us on a virtual reality roller coaster with his medley performance complete with political commentary on police brutality in America and the hip-hop dance troupe The JabbaWockeeZ. Miley Cyrus stunned in her colorful performance of her new single “Midnight Sky,” and she even referenced her infamous “Wrecking Ball” days. BTS made their debut on the VMA stage with their new single “Dynamite.” Lady Gaga stole the show with a medley of songs from her new album “Chromatica” including the first live performance of “Rain On Me” with Ariana Grande. Doja Cat made her otherworldly debut on the VMA stage performing her hit singles “Say So” and “Like That.” The Black Eyed Peas closed the show in what was the lowest point of the entire ceremony. Not even them performing their classic “I Gotta Feeling” could have saved this performance and certainly not their glowing crotches. You read that right. See for yourself here. 

The Advocacy: Throughout the broadcast, there was no shortage of speaking out on the injustices in this country. The Weeknd accepted his awards by calling out for justice of the death of Breonna Taylor and the vicious attempted murder of Jacob Blake. Lady Gaga urged the public to wear masks in her acceptance of the MTV Tricon Award. H.E.R. won the Video For Good award for her song “I Can’t Breathe” and MTV highlighted workers on the frontline by showing a compilation of doctors and medical personnel singing and dancing. 

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All in all, this year’s VMAs rocked and showed that if you take the time, a socially-distant award show is possible and can be great. I need the Grammys, the Oscars and the Emmys to take note.