One of music’s most iconic and anticipated events of the year is the MTV Video Music Awards, which took place this year on Aug. 27 in Inglewood, California.
The show, hosted by pop star Katy Perry opened with commentary from rapper Kendrick Lamar, followed by a fiery medley of his songs “DNA.” and “HUMBLE.” His performance received a standing ovation.
The decorated rapper was the night’s biggest triumph, taking home the most coveted awards: Best Hip Hop Video and Video of the Year for “HUMBLE.” Lamar also cleaned up the technical awards, scoring six wins altogether.
After Lamar’s opening, viewers were up for an evening full of surprises and disappointments.
With the show’s theme being outer space, Perry entered the stage from the ceiling dressed as an astronaut, which was a tribute to the show’s signature moon man.
Unfortunately, Perry’s hosting proved to be a cringe-worthy disaster. Even her better moments of viciously trolling herself were overshadowed by the hostess’ corny jokes and a desperate desire to be a politically aware meme queen.
The broadcast was also stained with a line of performance fiascos. For example, Julia Michaels’ and Kyle’s songs were rudely cut. Lorde was suffering from a flu and could not perform her song “Homemade Dynamite,”
Shawn Mendes experienced vocal issues, which rendered him unable to hit high notes in his performance of “There is Nothing Holding me Back.”
Even Perry’s own closing of the show with “Swish Swish” was barely saved by a flawless delivery from Nicki Minaj.
Ed Sheeran, who took home the award for Best Artist, went on to sing his number one hit “Shape of You.” That decision was seen as reductive since that song has been overperformed. The fans would have loved to see the singer perform something else.
He did give quite a surprise when he was joined by rapper Lil Uzi Vert for their duet in “XO Tour Llif3,” resulting in an already internet famous reaction from rapper Cardi B. Lil Uzi Vert and “Tour” went on to receive the award for Song of the Summer.
The show was lined up with moments of incredible greatness as well. Pink was this year’s recipient of the prestigious Michael Jackson Vanguard Award. The pop-rock rebel performed a nostalgic medley of her best hits including “So What,” “Get the Party Started” and others in her signature style with flying cars and live images from her truly iconic videos.
She concluded the performance with her new song “What About Us,” in a masterful way that demonstrated why Pink deserved her honor.
Beloved television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres gave the singer the award, who went on to deliver an inspirational speech about being a non-conformist.
She dedicated the award to her daughter. “You, little girl, are beautiful,” cheered Pink looking at her 6-year-old daughter, whose pride for her mother could be sensed through the screen.
The narrative of equality prevailed over the whole ceremony in sometimes shocking moments. Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV, the descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, gave a powerful speech denouncing racism and hatred.
He went on to introduce Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, an activist, who died during a terrorist attack in Charlottesville.
Bro announced the launch of a foundation named after her daughter and presented an award for Best Fight Against the System.
MTV appropriately decided to honor all nominees in this category with victory, which included John Legend, Taboo, Big Sean, The Hamilton Mixtape, Logic and Alessia Cara. Logic and Cara later went on to steal the show with their performance of “1-800-273-8255,” joined by rhythm and blues artist Khalid.
Presented by Kesha and featuring suicide survivors wearing white shirts with the number of the Suicide Prevention Hotline, the trio spoke against racism, sexism, inequality and mental health abuse in an emotional performance that brought the house to tears.
Cara had the biggest night of her career, as she returned to the stage again to sing her hit “Scars to Your Beautiful,” and to win her second award for Best Dance Video for “Stay.” Khalid also went on to receive his first VMA for Best New Artist.
There was space for typical MTV drama as well. Taylor Swift made the night all about her without even attending the ceremony. First, she snatched an award for Best Collaboration for her Fifty Shades Darker duet with Zayn “I Don’t Want to Leave Forever.”
Swift also brought shade when premiering her new video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” which was full of saucy allusions to her feuds.
Another moment full of shade was the performance given by Fifth Harmony. Before going into songs like “Angel” and “Down,” the group had a fifth member jump off the stage.
Viewers immediately concluded that the fifth member who was shown jumping off the stage represented former member Camilla Cabello. Fifth Harmony then went on to receive Best Pop Video for “Down” featuring Gucci Mane.
Although the generation of people who value the “M” in MTV has grown older, with the exciting drama and much needed political messages, the 2017 VMAs showed that they occupy a niche in pop culture that is still relevant.