The MTV Video Music Awards (VMA’s), despite the station’s built up anticipation for a wild show, was relatively tame this year, with fewer off script stunts than in years past.
The pre-show kicked off with performances from Walk the Moon and popular Youtube entertainer Todrick Hall. Walk the Moon played their summer hit, “Shut Up and Dance,” while Todrick Hall performed covers of chart topping hits in his signature style. Nick Jonas busted a move with Kelly Osbourne, and became the major highlight of the pre show.
Nicki Minaj started the show with a bang. She performed “Trini Dem Girls,” adorned in a feather head dress and a sparkling red gown, her performance had unique elements of African dance. Taylor Swift joined her in a complementary red outfit and accompanied her in “The Night is Still Young” then rounded the performance out with her hit “Bad Blood.”
Miley Cyrus attempted to fulfill expectations that she would shock viewers as a host, and did so with outrageous outfit changes and multiple sex and drug references. She relied greatly on crude humor to get a reaction from the audience.
Rebel Wilson made an appearance as an introducer for Minaj and lightened the mood with some signature Wilson jokes about stripper cops.
“You think you’re getting arrested but all you get is a mediocre lap dance,” Wilson said after stripping off her own cop outfit.
Minaj struggled in her skin-tight gold gown to get on stage and accept her award for Best Hip-Hop Video. She thanked fans, her pastor and threw a slight at Cyrus for saying unsavory things about her to the press, prompting an uproar on social media.
Swift won Best Female Video and handed the mic over to her video director to make a long-winded list of thank-yous. Kanye did not interrupt her acceptance.
Justin Bieber gave a dance centric performance of his songs “Where Are You Now?” as well as his newest hit “What Do You Mean?” Audience members roared their approval of the emotional performance.
Bieber was seemingly overwhelmed by the support, serving as a touching moment between the controversial pop star and his fans.
Big Sean, Kanye West and John Legend won Best Video with a Social Message for their song “One Man Can Change the World.” Big Sean thanked his grandmother and said, “If one person showed me one man can change the world, it was her.”
Tori Kelly performed a stripped down version of “Should Have Been Us” for the audience. She dazzled on stage, wearing a sparkling bodysuit and black blazer. Kelly is relatively new to the music scene, as her debut album “Unbreakable Smile” released in June. Kelly received a standing ovation from the entire crowd, as she was surely one of the best performances of the night.
Taylor Swift presented Kanye West with the Vanguard Award. This was a funny choice of presenter, as West infamously interrupted Swift’s acceptance of Best Female Video Award at the 2009 VMA’s. The incident initiated a public feud between the two, which has since been reconciled.
“If I had to do it all again what would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drunk half a bottle of Hennessey and given it to the audience? If I had a daughter would I have gone and taken the mic from someone else?” West said of his incident with Swift on stage during his acceptance speech.
West also criticized MTV’s efforts to garner high ratings, and the nature of award shows in general. West finished his acceptance speech by saying, “And yes, as you probably could have guessed, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” The jury is out on whether this claim is simply an over-the-top publicity stunt or an actual presidential bid.
Taylor Swift accepted the Video of the Year Award, filling the entire stage with her possy from the popular “Bad Blood” music video. The video is known for it’s star-studded cast of Swift’s girlfriends portraying action-movie-like characters.
Swift closed her speech with, “In 2015 we live in a world where boys can play princesses, and girls can play soldiers,” a very relevant comment as 2015 has been a significant year for the advocacy of gender acceptance.
For being hosted for the first time in two years, and by such a notoriously outrageous host, the VMA’s were on the tamer side in comparison to years past. However, social messages were on the forefront this year as artists branch further into politics, quite literally, more than they ever have before.