The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) have just taken place and they were decidedly different to years’ past.
The digital event hosted by Keke Palmer was entirely virtual, and had fake crowds reacting to the performances and winners. It was slightly confusing and a little weird. If green screen technology hadn’t been invented, Palmer would have been standing on an empty black sound stage cheering for herself.
This was the first attempt at a socially distant awards show, and it was actually pretty charming — there were no awkward stair stacks and Kanye West didn’t interrupt any award winners.
While we love some award show theatrics, this year, the announcers which included Drew Barrymore, Kelly Clarkson, Jaden Smith, Sophia Carson and actor Joey King, were well-rehearsed and prepped — even the award winners knew what was coming.
Notably, the awards show was much shorter than most years — there were no cutaways of audience members, and winners didn’t have to take time walking up to the stage.
This year, the performances were (in my opinion) much more entertaining and engaging due to the exceptional dance numbers, the colourful lights and the mask-wearing back-up dancers, however, as the show was pre-recorded, superstar performers including Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, Miley Cyrus and BTS, were lip-syncing.
The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights was a stand-out. The song became a viral TikTok movement, so we assume VMA fans were awkwardly dancing along at home.
Miley Cyrus recreated her iconic Wrecking Ball video with a giant disco ball. Due to COVID-19, she was unable to twerk or thrust herself upon any collaborators or back up dancers. This was missed.
While it still seems unbelievable that we have been in the midst of a global pandemic for almost nine months, the majority of the songs released this year were accompanied by music videos made from home.
With this, we saw new award categories included. Best Music Video from Home, Best Quarantine Performance and an incredible shout out to the “Everyday Heroes: Frontline Medical Workers” — which honoured medical staff around the US for their musical performances on YouTube and social media.
But it wasn’t just the global coronavirus pandemic that changed the world, The Weeknd paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement after his win for Video of The Year and Best R&B Video, saying that he didn’t feel much like celebrating and demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by policemen while she slept and Jacob Blake — who was shot seven times in the back by cops while getting into his vehicle.
Palmer also began the show by honouring the late Chadwick Boseman, who passed away from colon cancer just a few days earlier.
The real toast to 2020 came with Lady Gaga and her incredible wardrobe changes. With each incredible outfit, a different artistic mask was worn.
Accepting Artist of the Year (alongside the first-ever winner of the Tricon Award), Gaga said: “Stay safe, speak your mind and I might sound like a broken record, but wear a mask. It’s a sign of respect.”
And that, is how the VMAs went down this year.