Lady Gaga cleaned house at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, while The Weeknd took home the top prize —and both pop stars sent important messages to viewers about the current state of the world: “Wear a mask” and “Justice for Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor.”
Gaga won five honours Sunday, most of them for her No. 1 hit with Ariana Grande, ‘Rain on Me’, which the pop stars performed live for the first time.
“Wear a mask. It’s a sign of respect,” Gaga said during one of her several appearances onstage as she accepted awards like artist of the year, song of the year and the MTV Tricon award.
With an electronic mask, Gaga performed a medley of her songs, including ‘Stupid Love’, ‘Chromatica II’ and ‘911’. She and Grande were joined by a number of background dancers all wearing masks.
The Weeknd, the first performer of the night, won video of the year and best R&B for ‘Blinding Lights’.
The VMAs kicked off with another touching moment, as host Keke Palmer told viewers the show was dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday at age 43 after privately battling colon cancer for four years.
“We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He’s a true hero, not just on-screen,” Palmer said. “His impact lives forever.”
The show also took moments to honour Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke, rappers who died in recent months though their current albums continue to dominate the pop charts and streaming services.
The Black Eyed Peas, who closed the two-hour-plus show with Nicky Jam and Tyga, ended their set by saying, ‘lack Lives Matter’. And R&B star H.E.R. won the video for good award for her protest anthem about police brutality and systemic racism, ‘I Can’t Breathe’.
But most of the show was dedicated to fun performances — some pre-taped, some filmed in various locations in New York City, though the performance locations weren’t always clear. The VMAs were originally supposed to be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but plans changed because of the pandemic.
Colombian singer and best Latin winner Maluma sang from Brooklyn, while The Weeknd performed from Manhattan. Pop all-stars BTS, who won four awards including best pop and best group, performed from South Korea. They were top-notch during the pre-taped performance, which featured their signature, skilled choreography. The seven band members danced and sang in sharp suits, at some points with the backdrop of Times Square behind them.
As for top honours, Grande tied BTS with four wins. Her No. 1 duet with Justin Bieber, ‘Stuck with U’, won best music video from home — one of two new awards MTV established as artists have made shifts because of the pandemic. CNCO won best quarantine performance for ‘MTV Unplugged at Home’.
Megan Thee Stallion won best hip-hop for 'Savage’ and Taylor Swift won best direction for ‘The Man’.
“This is the very first video that I’ve ever directed on my own. And I just I’m so grateful for this,” Swift said. “I wanted to take an opportunity to say thank to the team who believed in me as a first-time director and made this video with me.”