Sunday’s show bore little resemblance to previous years, with performances taking place outdoors and in front of very limited audiences in New York’s five boroughs due to the health crisis.
Lady Gaga won, among others, Artist, Song and Collaboration of the Year, as well as the first-ever MTV Tricon Award, in recognition of her achievements in music, fashion and theater.
“I want to share this award with everyone back home tonight. Everyone is their own form of Tricon, ”she said, before reflecting on a year disrupted by a pandemic and social unrest.
“It hasn’t been an easy year for a lot of people, but what I’m seeing in the world is a huge triumph of courage,” said Gaga, who wore a mask all night.
Gaga continued, “Just because we’re apart right now and the culture may seem less alive in some ways, I know that a rebirth is coming and the anger of pop culture will inspire you and the rage of art will empower you by responding to trials. with his generosity and his love. This is what I believe. I don’t want anything more than to be your artist in 2020, it’s a total privilege.
“I love you, be careful, say what you think and I may sound like a broken record, but wearing a mask is a sign of respect.” ”
In a previous appearance on stage to collect the Artist of the Year award, an emotional Gaga said, “Being an artist is the one thing I’ve always wanted to be in my entire life. I never wanted to be anything else. “
Gaga and Ariana Grande, who won the Moon Person Trophies for Best Collaboration and Best Song for their dance-steeped duo Rain On Me, celebrated their success with the track’s debut televised performance.
The pop titans both wore masks when they took the stage. After Grande left, Gaga sat down in front of a brain-shaped piano and performed Stupid Love.
Recognizing her other nominations, Gaga said the winning song of the year gave her the most satisfaction.
She said: “Winning for the best song has to be my favorite because at the end of the day my heart is as a songwriter and I sure didn’t ask for a free spin. “
The ceremony was dedicated to Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday at the age of 43 following a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Host Keke Palmer said, “He’s a true hero, not just on screen but in everything he’s done. Its impact is eternal. ”
There was also a tribute to frontline workers in New York City who risked their lives when the city was ravaged by the pandemic, while Canadian singer The Weeknd used his acceptance speech for the coveted prize of the video of the year in demanding justice in the case of two shot dead African Americans. by the police.
Ahead of the show, the stars walked a socially distant red carpet without its usual bustle and energy, an early sign that this year’s VMAs would be different from those that came before it.
The Black Eyed Peas closed the proceedings, with one of the group members saying “Wakanda forever,” the phrase that summed up the black pride generated by Black Panther, as well as “black lives matter.”
And ahead of the November presidential election, which is billed as the biggest in a generation, fans have been called in to vote.
Despite the heavier-than-usual tone, the youth-focused VMAs still contained references to some of the biggest pop culture moments of the year, including the viral WAP music video of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion and the Netflix’s wild documentary series Tiger King.
The Weeknd won the coveted Video of the Year award for Blinding Lights and used his time on stage to rehearse an earlier demand for “justice” for two African-Americans shot dead by police.
Jacob Blake was paralyzed from the waist to his feet after being shot by officers in Wisconsin this month while Breonna Taylor was killed in Kentucky in March.
Both cases fueled protests against police brutality. The Weeknd took a somber tone and said he didn’t feel like celebrating the win.
Best House Music Video, one of two new categories introduced to reflect the post-Covid-19 world, was won by Grande and Justin Bieber for Stuck With U while pop titan Taylor Swift took home Best production for the video for The Man, his hit on industry sexism.
The award was voted on by industry figures, and Swift thanked voters and fans “because you’re the only reason the industry cares about everything I do.”
Swift, who canceled all dates for the 2020 tour, added, “Hope to see you soon. ”
HER took home the video for good for I Can’t Breathe while K-pop superstars BTS took home Best Pop for On.
Colombian superstar Maluma performed in Brooklyn, while Miley Cyrus debuted with her new single Midnight Sky and referred to her famous video Wrecking Ball, swinging on a disco ball.
The last words of the evening were “black lives matter”.
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