The MTV Video Music Awards took to the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York last night for what would turn out to be a record-breaking evening.
Over time, the ceremony has developed a reputation for being a wilder, untamed version of the more straightforward Grammy awards, only heightened after ridiculous antics like Miley Cyrus’ oddball hosting-gig during last year’s broadcast. And though this year didn’t have Hannah Montana belting it out with a posse of RuPaul’s drag queens, it did contain its fair share of chaos, comebacks and absurdity.
Here’s what went down.
Beyoncé Shuts It Down and Becomes Most Awarded VMA Artist Ever
Queen Bey continues to reign supreme over us all. With her casual eight trophies she cleaned up last (including the evening’s top prize of Video of the Year for “Formation”), she became the most awarded single artist in the over 30 years of the ceremony’s history. Her grand total now comes in at 24 of the Moonman statues, surpassing Madonna’s previous top spot of 21.
And if that wasn’t enough in itself, she also gave a 20-minute performance of tracks from this year’s Lemonade, essentially creating a mini-version of her tour show. And she brought her daughter Blue Ivy in a $10,000 piece of couture. Seriously now, bow down.
Kanye Premiered a Music Video and Made a Speech About How Awesome He Is
When word broke that MTV had given Kanye West a four-minute time-slot to do literally whatever he wanted, expectations were understandably high. But in lieu of a jaw-dropping performance spectacle, West gave another one of his instant classic speech spectacles. After touching on everything from Taylor Swift to Chicago’s crime problems, he then premiered a surprise new visual for The Life of Pablo’s closing track “Fade,” which featured singer Teyana Taylor turning into a cat. All in all, it was a low-key night for West, which still made it one of the night’s standout moments.
Rihanna Performed Four Times and Sang All Her Songs
As the recipient of this year's Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, the world waited with bated breath for RiRi to deliver on the now-expected career-spanning showcase that Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé have brought to their respective honors in recent years.
Instead, Rihanna flipped the script and performed not one, not two, not even three, but four mini-concerts throughout the telecast. Spanning all the way from "Pon De Replay" to "Bitch Better Have My Money" while wearing outfits like an all-pink confection from Hood by Air, she turned it the hell out.
Drake Declared His True Love for Rihanna to the Whole World
Drake and Rihanna have been the great "will they, won't they" love story of the pop music world of our generation. This has only been heightened by their slew of steamy music video collaborations, the most recent addition to this canon being the smoldering double-feature of Rihanna's "Work." But while presenting RiRi's Video Vanguard award, Drake made his feelings for her plain for the whole world to see. Was it serious? Her blush says it all.
Britney Spears Didn’t Totally Bomb
The last time Britney Spears performed at the VMAs (in 2007 with a renedtion of "Gimme More"), it resulted in one of the most critically lambasted efforts of her career. So, understandably, her performance of her new single "Make Me" last night was treated as a comeback of sorts, one that would make for a grand return-to-form for the iconic singer. The result was, well, fine. Though it did feature a laughable amount of crotch-grabbing and almost kisses with guest-spot rapper G-Eazy. Tbf, she's already had enough kisses both real and almost real in her VMA history.
But Ariana Grande Kind of Did Bomb
After undeniably shutting down the ceremony at her last VMAs performance (a rollicking show of her song "Bang Bang" aided by Nicki Minaj and Jessi J), expectations were pretty high for her repeat number this year. But sadly, not everything in this world can meet the hype. The singer spent the majority of last night's live debut of her new single "Side to Side" spent parked on an exercise bike. Then things got even weirder when she was joined by Nicki as her dancers pretended to give them head. It sounds kinky on paper, but in reality it was like watching a softcore Soulcycle class.
Jimmy Fallon Gave a Killer Ryan Lochte Impression
After lying to the world about a certain crime he "witnessed" during the 2016 Rio Olympics, Team USA swimmer Ryan Lochte has spent the past few weeks in severe damage control for what remains of his career. But he will now face an even harder time burying this PR nightmare thanks to Jimmy Fallon, who presented in character as the swimmer for an absurdly dedicated impression of his problem telling "non-truths." Fallon's Lochte was insistent that he directed every one of the year's nominees for Vide of the Year, and his work was met with what seemed an equal amount of laughter and slight horror from the audience.
Be sure to check out Kanye's new music video for "Fade" right here.