The confetti’s been blown, the gifs have been made, Miley’s tongue is taking a much-deserved vacation. After weeks of anticipation (or dread, depending on your age demographic), the 2015 VMAs have officially been put to bed. But you didn’t think we were just going to let the biggest party of the year slip right under our noses without getting at least a few cheeky comments in, did you? Here’s our own list of the best, worst, and most utterly bonkers moments of the MTV Video Music Awards. (We’re lucky this list is on the Internet, because we’re pretty sure, after last night’s show, that the FCC is arresting anyone who even mentions the words “Cyrus” and “boob tape” within a 50 foot radius of a television camera.)
Suuuure, No Hard Feelings: Nicki and Taylor Play Nice
Nicki Minaj opened the show with a Tribute to Las Vegas, I mean, her song, “Trini Dem Girls.” As always, Nicki was badass: she started the track sitting on a literal throne (her rightful place, of course). A few minutes into the performance, who should show up via trap door but Tay-Tay. Nicki and Taylor sang “The Night is Still Young” and “Bad Blood” together — well, Taylor sang “Bad Blood,” and Nicki kind of did thigh exercises near her. It was a well-orchestrated burying-the-hatchet moment. But do we actually think that, after calls of racism and privilege, that these two are entirely cool?
Wait … He’s Still a Thing?:
Just when it seems like Caucasian Sensations Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis had hung up their thrift store-chic hats for good, nope.Tthese dudes are back, with a lot of odd dancing and a new song, “Downtown.” Featuring singer Eric Nally (who seems really committed to his mustache) and rappers Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, and Grandmaster Caz, “Downtown” will probably be your mom’s new favorite rap song.
Get it: It’s Funny, ‘Cause I’m Out of My Mind:
We all knew that the purpose of letting Miley Cyrus host the the VMAs was to pack as many “crazy” shenanigans into the show as physically possible. Unfortunately, when everyone’s in on the plan (and said plan has already been underway for two years, since Bangerz was released in 2013), it’s tough to make the argument that it’s actually all that “crazy.” Miley based the show’s opening on her Instagram … which means all of her 27.7 million followers already knew exactly what it would feel like. Lots of “random” absurdity — Rita Ora in a tub of spaghetti, dancers reading books about dancing, etc. — just jumbled together doesn’t really equal funny or shocking. Her one joke — which could be summarized as, “See, I’m craaaaaazy” — couldn’t sustain itself for one minute, let alone the entire opening (or the rest of the show).
Michael Jackson Incarnate:
The first really exciting performance of the night came from the hottest act of the summer, The Weeknd. “Can’t Feel My Face” is ubiquitous right now, but this was the first time the song was performed on TV, and The Weeknd did more than live up to his hype. Live singing can be hit or miss, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this guy’s the real deal. (Well, to be fair, he didn’t really reach for those intoxicating high notes that are the climax of “Can’t Feel My Face”’s chorus, but I’ll give him a pass, because (a) great dancing; and (b) FIRE!)
Realest Moment (That Was Probably Staged, But it Felt Real, Guys): Nicki Minaj Calls Out Miley Like a Boss:
Yes, Nicki and Taylor made nice earlier in the show. But there were other targets on Nicki’s hit list last night, and when she won Best Hip-Hop Music Video of the Year, for “Anaconda,” she made sure everyone knew it.
Earlier this week, Miley spoke to the New York Times about her hosting gig. She also chose that moment to stick her nose in the middle of Nicki and Taylor’s feud, seemingly without having any idea what she was talking about. Miley sounded like she was chastising Nicki, saying “If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself.” Note to all little white pop stars: maaaaaybe this is an area you should steer clear of. Or at least educate yourself about the issue before coming down on Nicki Minaj. Because the rapper is not afraid to call you out. She did just that, and it was awesome.
I was aware of Demi Lovato before last night’s VMAs. I vaguely knew she was, at one point, a Disney channel star, and I’ve always grouped her with the likes of Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez in my mind. But my mind has been changed. Because when Demi Lovato performed her hit “Cool for the Summer,” I felt things. Sexy things. Sure, Miley was prancing around in pastiest all night, and yes, Nicki strutted her stuff like the queen she is. But neither could hold a candle to Demi’s confident, smoldering stage presence. Thank you, MTV.
Weirdest Feel: Justin Bieber Crying
It’s been five years since Justin Bieber performed at the VMAs, and a lot has happened to him in that time. But was he really so overwhelmed by his return to the Video Music Awards that he was moved to tears after singing “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean”? Dude just needs a hug.
Performer You’ve Never Heard of Before: Tori Kelly
The VMAs are usually home to the biggest acts in music, but last night we also got to hear from a new voice, and she blew me away. Tori Kelly just released her first full-length album earlier this summer, but she looked like a pro up on the stage. Her stripped down single, “Should’ve Been Us,” should’ve been a much bigger deal before now.
Sign of the Apocalypse: Kanye 2020
Oh Kanye, you beautiful gif-making machine. No matter what else happened at the show, we all knew that Yeezus’ acceptance speech for the VMA Vanguard Award was going to give us a lot to talk about. Kanye started off on a surprisingly humble note, apologizing to Taylor Swift for interrupting her speech in 2009, and sharing that he just wants “people to like me more.” But it wasn’t long before the biggest rapper in the game was going off on tangents about how he “died for the artist to be able have an opinion after they were successful,” announcing he may have smoked a little something earlier, and breaking down in tears. He ended the speech with what will undoubtedly be remembered as an iconic VMA moment: he announced his plans to run for president in five years, bro. Dear God, I hope that happens.
Most Predictable Moment: Taylor Swift Wins Video of the Year for “Bad Blood”
No one actually cares who wins the awards, right? Ok good, just checking.
Sure, Why Not: Miley Ends The Show By Performing With A Cadre of Drag Queens
Legitimate props to Miley for always promoting her Happy Hippie Foundation, her organization for homeless LGBT youth. I don’t really have any idea how that’s related to what’s happening here, but I’m just gonna go with it. I mean, her song, “Dooo It,” features lyrics like “Why is there a moon, way up in the skies” and “Why is there trees (do it).” You can’t fight that kind of genius. Does Kanye need a speechwriter for his presidential bid? Because I think I just found her.