The 36th Annual MTV Video Music Awards, also known as the VMAs, aired live Monday night from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. 

Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs

While the show went had no host last year, this years choice to host was American stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco. Maniscalo was surprised to be chosen for the hosting duty, but looked forward to the honour, telling some news outlets that he planned to perform his hosting duties without focusing on political commentary. A difficult task, seeing as politics are very difficult to divorce from award shows and events, especially at the VMAs, a notoriously controversial and political music event. Last year’s VMAs were political from the start as it ushered in MTV’s first-ever voter registration drive, aimed at encouraging young people to register and vote ahead of the November 2018 midterm elections.

Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande went into the night tied with the most nominations, 10 for each, followed closely by Billie Eilish with 9 nominations and Lil Nas X with 8. Swift was the big winner of the evening, taking home awards for Video of the Year for her poppy video “You Need To Calm Down” which featured cameos by many famous members of the LGBTQ community. The video also won her the award for Video For Good. Swift also received Best Visual Effects for her video “ME!”. 

Miley Cryus performs Slide Away

This was an important VMAs for Swift, as it marked the ten year anniversary of her infamously being interrupted on stage by rapper Kanye West, inspiring the wildly popular “Imma let you finish…” internet meme. The singer was set to open the show, continuing her media blitz around her seventh studio album, “Lover” which was just released on Friday. This was her first televised performance since dropping the 18-track album, and fans were not disappointed. 

It was announced on Monday, just hours before the ceremony, that Miley Cyrus would be performing during the show. Last night’s performance of her new single “Slide Away”, which seemingly details her recent heartbreak, was her first public appearance since separating from Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth. Sources close to Cyrus previously accused Hemsworth of excessive drinking and drug use as reason for their split, while Hemsworth has not commented on the allegations.

Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello performed their hit song “Señorita”, heating up the stage and seeming like they were building up to something, perhaps a kiss, but they stopped themselves just short of it and went for a nose rub instead. The pair also took home two of the infamous Moon Man awards for Best Collaboration and Best Cinematography. Other performers included Normani, formerly of girl group Fifth Harmony along with Cabello, latin rapper Bad Bunny, the recently reunited Jonas Brothers, Puerto Rican singer Ozuna, R&B singer H.E.R., and Lil Nas X, as well as crowd favourite Lizzo. 

Rapper Lil Nas X was toppling charts this year due to his smash hit “Country Town Road”, which has led to multiple remixes and covers while becoming the longest running number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, usurping Mariah Carey’s hold on that position with her 1995 hit “One Sweet Day”. In June 2019, the 20 year old came out as gay, the only artist at that point to have done so while having a number-one record, which led a wave of self-acceptance and positivity within the hip hop community and music at large.  

Rapper Lil Nas X

Despite the many show stopping performances throughout the night, the moment we were all waiting for was Missy Elliot’s performance. Elliot was this year’s recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, an honour that many people believe was long overdue. Melissa Arnette “Missy” Elliott has been entertaining the world for three decades as a rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, prolific dancer, and philanthropist, influencing an incredible amount of performers, past and present. 

The 48 year old tore the house down with a seven minute mash-up of her biggest hits, backed by hundreds of dancers, that included acrobatics, pyrotechnics, and at least five wardrobe changes, in true Elliot style. While the main target audience of MTVs events aims towards a younger crowd, Elliot’s music has transcended generation and her iconic beats and samples sound as fresh and cool as anything currently on the radio. 

Alyson Stoner

A moment that had fans roaring was the surprise dance cameo by 26 year old actor and dancer Alyson Stoner who at nine years old caught the worlds’ attention as a featured dancer in Elliott’s classic “Work It” video, going on to appear in “Gossip Folks” and “I’m Really Hot” with the rapper as well. The energy in the room was palpable throughout Elliot’s performance as the crowd, young and old, ‘got their freak on’.

She then accepted her award from fan favourite Cardi B, telling the crowd she was trying not to cry. She went on to thank God, her mother, the late singer Aaliyah, producer Timbaland, Busta Rhymes, Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, MTV, and others for their inspiration and support. Elliot also made sure to shout out all the dancers who have helped her music videos reach icon status over the years saying…

Lastly, I want to dedicate this award to the dance communities all around the world. When y’all get on the stage with these artists, y’all are not just props, y’all are the icing on the cake, y’all are the beat to the heart. I dedicate this to every dance community out there.

Video Vanguard recipient Missy Elliot

Past winners of the Vanguard Award include Rihanna, Beyoncé, U2, Janet Jackson, last years recipient Jennifer Lopez, and Kanye West; who famously declared his intention to run for president during his 2015 acceptance speech. Music Fans are already speculating who will take the honour at next years’ ceremony. 

To see her full performance click the link below!

Missy Elliot VMA Performance

Check out winners and highlights from last year here and we’ll see you next year for the 2020 VMAs!  

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