On the night of Nov. 12, the world of music escaped Hollywood and flew to London, where the 23rd annual MTV Europe Music Awards was hosted at the SSE Arena in Wembley. As expected, the 2017 EMAs did not disappoint.
The ceremony was opened by Eminem, who presented his new single “Walk on Water.” The song features Beyoncé, who could not attend the ceremony, so her vocal part was performed live by Eminem’s frequent collaborator Skylar Grey. In a heartfelt performance, Eminem and Grey set the tone for the night, as they were accompanied by the contagious energy of the fans.
The awards show was hosted by Rita Ora, who stole the night even before the ceremony began. The British singer and actress arrived at the red carpet wearing a Palomo Spain white bathrobe, a head towel and $7.8 million worth of jewelry on her neck, ears and feet. Ora went on to perform two of her most recent hits, “Your Song” and “Anywhere,” during the show and even snatched a special Power of the Music Award.
The most triumphant musician of the night was 19-year-old Canadian heartthrob Shawn Mendes. While the current chart destroyer Taylor Swift had the most nominations, Mendes ruled the night with four wins for Best Artist, Best Canadian Artist, Biggest Fans and Best Song for “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.”
Absentee Kendrick Lamar continued his streak of avalanche successes by taking the awards for Best U.S. Act and Best Video for “HUMBLE,” warming up for his expected sweep at the upcoming Grammys.
Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars, which took home the award for Best Alternative Act, presented the legendary rock machine U2 with the Global Icon Award. The rock gods, lead by Bono, performed their newest single “Get Out of Your Own Way” from their upcoming album Songs of Experience, with the grit and power only U2 has.
With the exception of Eminem and U2, the show was lacking the star-struck power of its U.S. analogy and was dominated by the newcomers and young performers like Mendes. Dua Lipa won Best New Act and Hailee Steinfeld took home the award for Best Push Artist.
Former One Direction member Liam Payne smoothed his way onto the stage with his top 10 hit “Strip That Down,” followed by newly elected queen of radio Camilla Cabello. Cabello stopped the show with the most colorful and vibrant number of the night “Havana,” a love letter to the city of Cabello’s birth. The singer mamboed her way across the stadium in a red jumpsuit and did not lose her energy for even a second. She later returned when honored with the Best Pop Act award.
Electronic house group Clean Bandit teamed up with Zara Larsson, Julia Michaels and Anne-Marie for an orchestral medley of their respective chart toppers “Symphony,” “I Miss You” and “Rockabye,” in a beautiful message of internationality. Larsson is Swedish, Michaels is American and Anne-Marie is British.
Hip hop artists from the United States brought futuristic swagger with Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect” and French Montana came together with Swae Lee to perform “Unforgettable.”
Demi Lovato took the stage with her hits “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” demonstrating that her new lifestyle, as seen in her new documentary, has positively affected her vocal abilities. Ke$ha returned to the EMA spotlight seven years after taking home the award for Best New Artist, when she performed her breakthrough hit “Tik Tok.” This year, the songstress demonstrated a complete transformation with a Bowie-esque rendition of “Learn to Let Go,” an inspirational anthem that emblematizes her experience as well as her new musical style.
David Guetta, who won the award for Best Electronic Act, closed the show with “Dirty Sexy Money,” for which he was joined by French Montana and Charli XCX. Scoring a potential club hit, the trio left the ecstatic audience on a high note, leaving the world anxiously waiting for another year of the EMAs.