USA Today – Oh, what a difference a decade makes.
Ten years after Kanye West brazenly bum-rushed Taylor Swift’s speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, the pop superstar got sweet vindication Monday when she won the show’s top award for video of the year for her pro-LGTBQ anthem “You Need to Calm Down.”
It was a bright spot during a ceremony that continues to struggle to maintain relevancy, made painfully evident by its out-of-place host, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, and forced moments of should-be viral gold, such as real-life “couple” Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s mostly passionless performance and win for duet “Senorita.”
Here are the five things you need to know from this year’s VMAs, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Taylor Swift makes us misty-eyed, dings Trump’s White House
On the heels of releasing her critically acclaimed seventh album “Lover” last Friday, Swift opened the VMAs with a heart-tugging rendition of the romantic title track, which she performed on guitar center stage in a sparkly purple jacket and gold leotard.
Despite being the biggest name at Monday’s show, the singer wisely stepped aside to let her fellow artists shine: cheering on performances from Lil Nas X and Missy Elliott with her signature awkward dance moves, and handing the mic to YouTube star Todrick Hall to accept the video for good award for “You Need to Calm Down.”
When Swift did take the mic after winning video of the year, she kept her speech brief but sharply political, acknowledging the Equality Act petition featured at the end of the star-studded video.
Since its release in June, “(the petition) now has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount needed to warrant a response from the White House,” Swift said, pretending to tap a watch on her wrist and shrugging at the camera.
Miley Cyrus delivers emotional first performance since Liam Hemsworth split
Cyrus made us second-guess the very institution of marriage when she and Hemsworth, her on-and-off-again partner and husband of eight months, announced their separation earlier this month. Fans of the beloved couple were further rocked days later, when the singer/actress released searing ballad “Slide Away,” which pointedly references their 10-year relationship.
Sporting a simple black dress and wet hair, and backed by an orchestra, Cyrus debuted the single live with a fervent, no-frills performance that vocally, is one of her strongest in years.
Twitter loses its mind over surprise guest during Missy Elliott medley
As this year’s recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Missy Elliott delivered hands-down one of the best VMAs performances ever when she took the stage for a dynamic medley of greatest hits including “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” “Pass That Dutch,” and “Lose Control.”
But the undoubted highlight of the tribute wasn’t Elliott’s tearful speech, nor was it Cardi B’s playful introduction to the hip-hop icon. Instead, it was when Elliott brought out Alyson Stoner, who at 10 years old, memorably danced in the rapper’s “Work It” video and recreated her jaw-dropping moves during Monday’s show as a now-26-year-old.
Stoner’s inclusion was praised as “legendary” and “epic” on Twitter, making viewers nostalgic for 2003.
John Travolta pulls an Adele Dazeem 2.0
We’re not the only ones having flashbacks to 2014, when Travolta memorably flubbed “Frozen” star Idina Menzel’s name during the Oscars by introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.” The “Grease” actor made a similarly bizarre gaffe during this year’s VMAs, when he presented the award for video of the year to Swift for “Calm Down.”
In a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment, Travolta appears to nearly hand the statue to former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Jade Jolie, a drag queen who appeared in the video and was dressed as Swift. Twitter lost it over the awkward moment: “I am … reeling,” one user said, while another summed it up quite simply as “EVERYTHING.”
John Travolta mistaking Jade Jolie for Taylor Swift. 👏DRAG 👏RACE 👏EXCELLENCE pic.twitter.com/zVLgsbHhD7
— Joey Nolfi (@joeynolfi) August 27, 2019
Normani delivers a star-making performance
In the absence of A-list nominees Ariana Grande, Drake and Lady Gaga, burgeoning up-and-comers including Lizzo, Rosalia and H.E.R. each made their mark with impressive turns on the VMAs broadcast. But none was more endearing than former Fifth Harmony singer Normani, who brought her catchy throwback single “Motivation”and its athletic dance moves to the Prudential Center less than two weeks after the song’s music video went viral. Although she didn’t recreate the clip’s now-legendary basketball booty bounce, Normani proved she’s an unstoppable force with one of the night’s most unforgettable performances.
Written by Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY