Lady Gaga led this year’s MTV VMAs, winning five awards, while BTS and Ariana Grande took four each and The Weeknd took home Video of the Year.
The ceremony, filmed at several outdoor locations in New York City with limited audiences, was dedicated to the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
It included pre-recorded speeches and performances, with Lady Gaga saying, “Love who you are. Be nice. Hide yourself. ”
Host Keke Palmer called Boseman, who died on Friday, a “real hero.”
Here are some key moments from the social distancing show, which aired Sunday night, with the full list of winners here.
1. Lady Gaga on the “anger” and “rage” of art
Gaga’s wins were for Best Artist, Song, Collaboration, and Cinematography, as well as the inaugural MTV Tricon Award – honoring her work in music, theater, and fashion.
“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,” she said.
“Just because we’re apart right now and the culture may seem less alive in some ways, I know a renaissance is coming, and the wrath of pop culture will inspire you and the rage of art will give you of power by responding to difficulties with generosity and love. ”
Model Bella Hadid, who called Gaga a ‘powerhouse’ when she introduced her, said, “She turns pop music into high-level art. She redefines fashion… she inspires us and empowers us all. “
2. MTV remembers Chadwick Boseman
Host Keke Palmer said of Chadwick Boseman: “We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many people. He’s a true hero, not just on screen but in everything he’s done. Its impact is eternal. ”
The awards honored the late actor, who died of colon cancer at the age of 43, with a return to his 2018 appearance at the MTV Movie Awards, when he won Best Hero and Best Performance in a film for playing T’Challa in Black Panther.
During his speech, he invited James Shaw Jr. on stage to thank him for protecting fellow restaurant goers from a gunman who opened fire in a Tennessee waffle iron.
He gave Shaw his popcorn trophy and said, “This is going to live with you. God bless you, man. ”
Boseman’s clip ended with the words “rest in power”.
3. The Weeknd called for justice for the shootings
The Weeknd won the highly prized Video of the Year award for Blinding Lights, using his speech to demand justice in the case of two African-Americans shot dead by police.
“It’s hard to celebrate, so I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” he said.
Da Baby’s performance echoed this, referencing the ongoing protests against police violence and singing his song Blind while handcuffed in the back of a police car.
Palmer’s opening monologue also made reference to the social unrest sparked by George Floyd’s death in May.
“We can never tolerate police brutality,” she said. “It’s time for us to be the change we want to see. We have to unite, and music has that power. ”
Although The Weeknd looked like he had been beaten, he wore makeup that replicated his look for his winning video, in which he ended up with facial injuries.
4. Taylor Swift makes history
Taylor Swift was the first female solo artist to win the award for Best Direction for her video The Man, and was only the second female to win the award, after Melina Matsoukas for Formation by Beyonce in 2016.
The video is aimed at male music leaders – particularly Scooter Braun, which bought its comeback catalog last year, and the credits point out that the video was directed, produced and owned by Swift.
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“I was told it was a price voted by the industry. So I would like to thank all industry players who voted for this video, ”she said.
“But I also really want to thank the fans because you’re the only reason the industry cares about everything I do. “
5. Ariana Grande only appeared once
The singer took home three awards for her collaboration with Lady Gaga and one for Best Home Music Video for Stuck on U starring Justin Bieber.
But she only made one appearance on stage, for a masked performance with Gaga. She tweeted her thanks to him for winning Song of the Year, for Rain on Me.
Calling Gaga “the most gracious and amazing”, she added that she was “so grateful to be a part of it”.
6. BTS’s Dynamite debuts on live TV
The South Korean pop group won for Pop Video, Band, K-pop and Choreography and it was their first appearance at the awards, which will have thrilled their legions of fans.
They performed the English song Dynamite from a distance from Seoul, dancing in front of the backdrops of New York.
Their performance in costume and kicked off ended with fireworks appearing behind them, matching their words: “So I’m lightning like dynamite.” “
7. And without forgetting the best quarantine performance…
The awards recognized the many performances of artists during the coronavirus pandemic, for their creativity in keeping in touch with their fans during the lockdown. The award went to Latino boy group CNCO – Unplugged At Home, which beat Chloe x Halle, DJ D-Nice, John Legend, Lady Gaga and Post Malone.
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