(AP) – Lil Nas X won the Video of the Year award at the Sunday MTV VMAs at a party where Justin Bieber triumphantly returned to the stage as a performer and as the winner of the artist of the year.
Bieber won the Artist of the Year award and kicked off Sunday’s ceremony with an energetic performance that featured him rappelling from the ceiling of the Barclays Center “and launching into” Stay “with Kid LAROI and his single “Ghost”.
“I don’t take this for granted,” said Lil Nas X as she accepted the evening’s final price for the video for her song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”.
The VMAs celebrated MTV’s 40th anniversary, mixing moments between top network stars like Cyndi Lauper and the Madonna show’s premiere with high-octane performances from new stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Camila Cabello. and Chloe.
But much of the first show belonged to Bieber, who was the main contestant at the ceremony. Sunday was his first VMA performance in six years, and also won top pop honor for “Peaches,” starring Giveon – who accompanied him on stage.
Wearing loose clothing and a hoodie, Bieber showed his appreciation for the awards in person and thanked his wife, Hailey, for supporting him.
“As we know, there is so much going on in the world,” Bieber said in his acceptance speech after winning the Artist of the Year award. “We are living through an unprecedented period with COVID. Music is a great outlet for reaching people together. We are all here together.
Opening the show, Madonna told the raving crowd, “They said we weren’t going to last. But we are still here.
Moments after Olivia Rodrigo performed her hit song “good 4 u”, she won the first prize of the evening for her hit song “Drivers License”. She went on to win the award for best new artist.
“I feel so grateful that I can write music, do things that I love and call it my job,” said Rodrigo, the first-time nominee. Earlier in the awards ceremony, the singer called this year “the most magical year of my life”.
Jennifer Lopez, who three days earlier had formalized her rekindled romance with Ben Affleck on the red carpet of her new film “” The Last Duel “at the Venice International Film Festival, presented her trophy to Rodrigo.
Billie Eilish won the fan-voted video for good for her song “Your Power”. In her acceptance speech, she said Alicia Keys kissed her on the cheek before speaking about the satisfaction of writing the song and empowering women.
“We must protect our own women at all costs,” said Eilish, as her producer brother Finneas applauded his sister from his seat. “We have to remember that we all have power. We must remember not to overdo it.
Lauper, who presented Bieber with his first prize, advocated for equal rights for women.
“Girls always want to have fun,” said Lauper, known for the classic tune “Girls just wanna have fun”. “But we also want to have funds, equal pay, control over our bodies, you know, basic rights.”
Lil Nas X took the stage with Jack Harlow and then performed his controversial song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”. Kacey Musgraves and Shawn Mendes also took the stage.
Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles introduced Doja Cat – the show’s host – who went airborne during her performance. With threads holding her down, Doja Cat glided over the crowd and landed on stage as she performed “Been Like This” and “You Right”.
Before the show, Machine Gun Kelly had an argument on the red carpet with UFC fighter Conner McGregor. The video showed McGregor being held back by Kelly’s safety who went on to win Best Alternative for his song “My Ex’s Best Friend”, starring Blackbear.
Kelly said he didn’t initially want to release the song, but thanked his label for going against his wishes. He also thanked the director of the song’s clip, despite their feud on set.
“I haven’t spoken to you since we did because we fought on set, but it’s a great video and I’m so glad we won,” he said. “We won!”
Megan Thee Stallion entered the show as the second nominee with six nominations. BTS, Doja Cat, Drake, Giveon, Lil Nas X, and Rodrigo each have five nods.
The Foo Fighters performed and then accepted the Global Icon Award, an honor bestowed on the VMAs for the first time. The award recognizes an artist or group “whose unprecedented career and continued impact and influence have maintained a unique level of worldwide success in music and beyond.”
The prestigious award has already been presented at the annual MTV Europe Music Awards. Previous recipients include Queen, Eminem, and Whitney Houston.
The rock band – consisting of Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee – performed several of their hits, including “Learn to Fly” and “Shame Shame”. It was their first performance at the VMAs since 2007.
Eilish presented the Global Icon Award to the group, who thanked MTV veterans from Kurt Loder to Tabitha Soren.
“Thank you very much for this award,” said Grohl. “We’ll see each other in 26 years.
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