After years of touching down in Los Angeles, MTV's Video Music Awards hit Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Sunday night. And befitting the new scenery, the 2013 VMAs were a refreshing change of pace from the comparatively lackluster last few years.
The unbelievable lineup certainly helped this year's show excel: Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Drake, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake (with 'N Sync!!) all preformed on stage. But the 2013 VMAs didn't return the Moonman to the stratosphere based on star power alone—the Brooklyn version of the VMAs boasted a few performances, weird flirtations and hilarious reaction shots that made it a night to remember.
Platonic Flirtation Factor
Although it may not go down in history like Madonna's VMA kiss with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus' duet with Robin Thicke on "Blurred Lines" was slathered in platonic flirtation. After singing "We Can't Stop," Miley waltzed across the stage to join Robin Thicke (dressed in a flashy Beetlejuice-esque suit) for a duet on his No. 1 hit. Her vocals were spot-on but that was entirely beside the point when she started twerking. Because when she twerked last night, she bent over in front of Thicke and had her junk all up on him while he sang. And while she twerked, Miley unleashed her impossibly long tongue to write around. Just Miley bein' Miley.
To be clear, we don't believe for a second that the 20-year-old pop star and the 36-year-old married R&B singer have any real sexual chemistry, but their antics were easily the most gratuitous example of platonic flirtation since Madonna thrust her tongue down Britney's throat so many years ago.
Genius Reunion: 'N Sync
The night was hand-down owned by Justin Timberlake. Despite some sound issues plaguing his performance, he delivered a career-spanning medley of hits that brought 'N Sync back together on stage for the first time since 2002. Singing segments of "Girlfriend" and "Bye Bye Bye," the boy band veterans provided the biggest thrill of the night. And to paraphrase Kanye's infamous VMA 'speech,' it was the greatest VMA reunion OF ALL TIME.
For comparison, here's the competition: Back in the '90s, Van Halen reunited with original singer David Lee Roth to present an award. Also, Kiss once reunited at the VMAs to play their first show in a few years. Clearly, this was a whole different level of unexpected. Honestly, did you think you'd ever see 'N Sync singing and dancing together again? Much less before 2013 was over? We rest our case.
Meaningful Reaction Shots
Cutting to a singer's ex when they hit the stage is Awards Show Editing 101 at this point, but the people at the VMAs have it down to an art. Like that hilarious cut to a depressed Drake staring at the floor while Miley Cyrus twerked. And the curious reaction shot of One Direction looking bored during 'N Sync's reunion segment (perhaps they were terrified to see what a boy band looks like when it becomes a grown-man band).
And, of course, there was the bevy of Taylor Swift reaction shots. When One Direction took the stage to present an award, she leaned over to BFF Selena Gomez and mouthed something about her ex Harry Styles that definitely involved the f-bomb. And when Swiftie received a Moonman for her "I Knew You Were Trouble" video, she gave this gem of an acceptance speech: "I also wanna thank the person who inspired this song, who knows exactly who he is, because now I got one of these!" Obviously, the producers cut to One Direction immediately, all of whom looked stunned and uncomfortable.
But it wasn't all awkward. Taylor Swift's genuine joy when 'N Sync began singing was a nice reminder that beneath everything, famous people are sometimes just fans like us.
Red Carpet Star Power
Since the VMAs weren't in L.A., there seemed to be fewer random movie stars in attendance. But that doesn't mean the Brooklyn red carpet was dull. In fact, last night produced one of the most remarkable, unlikely pictures we've seen in forever: Fitness guru Richard Simmons kissing Katy Perry's hand like a court jester bowing to a queen. Gawk at it and other awesome shots from the VMAs red carpet and check out the list of VMA winners below.
Check out highlights from the 2013 VMAs red carpet:
Video of the year: Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best female video: Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble."
Best male video: Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Best pop video: Selena Gomez, "Come & Get It"
Best hip hop video: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best rock video: Thirty Seconds to Mars, "Up In the Air"
Best collaboration: Pink and Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me a Reason"
Best video with a social message: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert, "Same Love"
Best song of the summer: One Direction, "Best Song Ever"
Artist to watch: Austin Mahone, "What About Love"
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award: Justin Timberlake