Maybe you love Kanye; maybe you hate Kanye. At the very least, you have to admit that, when Yeezy arrived onstage at the VMAs, you had no idea what he was going to do or say, and that unpredictability was thrilling. Awards shows are monumentally staged affairs, but giving West a few minutes to allude to Taylor Swift, shout-out his ex Amber Rose in the crowd and debut a wild new video for “Fade” gave the VMAs a quickened pulse.
“Closer” is the No. 1 song in the country, and it’s a pretty rad single—but judging by the low-energy pairing of The Chainsmokers and Halsey on Sunday night, unfamiliar audiences wouldn’t have understood that. At least Nick Jonas’ lackluster performance was visually ambitious; Halsey and The Chainsmokers seemed to not know where to bring “Closer” except closer to every fog machine in existence.
Slotted immediately after Beyoncé’s dazzling Lemonade medley, Britney Spears’ much-hyped VMAs return couldn’t help but disappoint. Toss in the fact that Brit was essentially featured as much as G-Eazy—again: Britney Spears was featured as much as G-Eazy—and it’s not hard to see this set as a failure.
Hey, the correct thing won the top prize at the awards ceremony! You’d think that happens all the time, but… nope, it really doesn’t. Bey’s second video of the year was well-deserved, and came with a speech in which she hugged the members of the Final Five and dedicated the trophy to New Orleans. A great way to end a spectacular night for Beyoncé.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are funny guys; how could they faux-announcing the VMAs go so wrong? Oh, it’s because they spent their entire time clowning on social media users during a show driven by social media interactions. That’s how.
The four performances showed why Rihanna is an untouchable hitmaker; her curving of Drake’s affection showed why she is a queen. Drake professed his love for Rih during the Video Vanguard Award presentation before she visibly denied Drizzy a lip lock and professed how she is not performing not for herself, but for women, her hometown and her fans. Even if Drake tried to make the moment about them, Rihanna proclaimed that this VMAs belonged to her.
Desiigner is a ball of energy that is too kinetic to be bound by words or a shirt. He did not perform at the VMAs, he did not win Best New Artist or any other award, but still, he had the best time out of anyone there. This was Desiigner’s first VMAs; here’s hoping he’s at the next 20 of these things.
Future is one of the more prolific stars in hip-hop today… so why did he perform a song, “Fuck Up Some Commas,” that is so old, he could have performed it at last year’s VMAs? Michael Phelps’ introduction was more exciting than hearing the Dirty Sprite 2 gem for the 800th time.