Watch: Beyonce slays at MTV Video Music Awards, Britney backs off from kiss and 7 other show moments

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The prolific Future. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Jimmy Fallon (as Ryan Lochte) escorts Video of the Year winner Beyonce offstage at Madison Square Garden. The king and the queen of the prom? (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Jimmy Fallon (as Ryan Lochte) escorts Video of the Year winner Beyonce offstage at Madison Square Garden. The king and the queen of the prom? (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)


Future represented for Atlanta. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Future represented for Atlanta. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)


OK, good, so we’re on the same page.

Much like the screechy army of contestants who clutter ABC’s “Game Show Block,” the producers of the 33rd installment of the MTV VMAs confuse yelling for excitement. Not the same thing. Let’s all tone it down a notch, shall we?

If you quickly tuned out from Sunday night’s show – ostensibly an “awards show” though only a handful of artists actually showed up to claim a moonman trophy – you missed a lot of Beyonce, even more Rihanna, and a tribute to Kanye West, by Kanye West.

Also, for future reference, it’s suggested to refrain from gulping down mouthfuls of Chinese takeout from the restaurant in Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport while watching a) Ariana Grande in a SoulCycle routine during her performance of “Side to Side” b) Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj posing with their male dancers’ faces shoved in their crotches and/or c) Teyana Taylor and her insane body going all “Flashdance 2016” in West’s new video for “Fade.”

Here are some other um, memorable (?) moments from Sunday night’s show, which took place for the first time from New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Why, Alicia, whhhhhy? (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Why, Alicia, whhhhhy? (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Also, if you care about any of the winners, scroll down to see the complete list (spoiler – Beyonce won eight), as well as video from the ceremony.

1. Who dressed Alicia Keys like a Christmas tree? Her face, without a speck of makeup, looked beautiful. But that outfit? Oy vey. At least she redeemed herself with a poignant reminder that Aug. 28 marked the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and to commemorate, Keys unveiled her own poem, which she turned into an a capella song as well: “So we can fear each other, hate each other, we can make these walls.
“We can build these walls between each other, baby, blow by blow and brick by brick. Keep yourself locked in, yourself locked. Or maybe we could love somebody. Maybe we could care a little more. Maybe we could love somebody instead of polishing the bombs of holy war.”

angry_michael_phelps2. Now we know that Michael Phelps was listening to “Stick Talk” by Atlanta’s Future when he made the now-famous Phelps face before one of his races at the Olympics. The medal king introduced the rapper’s performance and admirably delivered the cringing line,  “I might have all the golds, but this guy has all the platinum.”

Future, meanwhile, was backed by a live band that delivered a blistering guitar solo as he crept around in circles in his all-red ensemble and spat a few bleep-riddled verses of “F Up Some Commas.” A shot of Chance the Rapper in the audience indicated he was in a state of bliss. A shot of Kim Kardashian indicated a state of blah (then again, this is the same woman who turned TelePrompTer reading into a skills challenge when she later introduced Britney Spears).

3. Kanye West was given four minutes to ramble and he used every second. God bless the person who could figure out his stream-of-consciousness babbling, which included in part, the following:  “I am Kanye West and that feels really great to say, especially this year. I came here to present my new video, but before I do that, Ima talk. Later tonight, ‘Famous’ might lose to Beyonce. I can’t be mad ‘cause I’m always wishing for Beyonce to win. But for people to understand just how blessed we are, it was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV, you know, just the audacity to put Anna Wintour next to Donald Trump. I mean, I put Ray J in there, bro. This is fame, bro. I see you Amber (laughs and points at this ex). My wife is a G, not a lot of people wise to what I’m saying… We came over in the same boat, now we all in the same bed, well, maybe different boats, but if you think about last week it was 22 people murdered in Chicago. Like people come to me like, ‘damn, that’s right, take Taylor’ and I’m like, bro, I love all y all, that’s why I called her…I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older rich people, you know, aka white. They tell me don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs, don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney…my role models are artists merchants, less than 10 that I can name in history: Truman, Ford Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West.”

And then he premiered the “Fade” video.” And…scene.

Rihanna had a busy night. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Rihanna had a busy night. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

4. Rihanna received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, but first she performed multiple times throughout the night. She opened the show with a medley (OK, it was 90 percent dancing, 7 percent lip-syncing and 3 percent actual singing) that included “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Only Girl in the World” and “Where Have You Been.”

Her second appearance was an homage of sorts to Caribbean music and featured much booty-popping and one-legged dance moves as she and a cadre of dancers gyrated through “Rude Boy,”
“What’s My Name?” and “Work.”

Round three included a painfully off-key “Needed Me” as well as “Pour it Up.”

Commentary, refraining from.

5. Nick Jonas irritated any potential customers of the Tick Tock Diner near MSG as production shut the place down so he could stroll through a restaurant full of fake customers – including brother Joe and his DNCE crew (winners for best new artist!) and other celebs – to croon “Bacon.” Get it? Ha. Ha.

Beyonce turned the show into the BMAs. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Beyonce turned the show into the BMAs. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

6. In the days leading to the VMAs, it seemed odd that only a handful of performers had been announced. Now we know why. Because these were really the BMAs once Beyonce signed on.

Her “surprise” performance was anything but in our carefully leaked social media world, but it was unexpected that Beyonce commandeered the show for nearly 20 minutes with a presentation of a good chunk of her “Lemonade” album.

“Pray You Catch Me” launched the spectacle, which looked like a fever dream from which she emerged to shake her butt cheeks at the camera for “Hold Up.” Then came “Sorry,” followed by a fur-coat-wearing, lip-licking “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and, of course, “Formation.”

Whatever you think of Beyonce – and yes, of course, everyone worships her because she’s the best at everything, ever, and how dare anyone say otherwise – she’s an exceptional stage performer. She runs through a dozen personas, from savage to vulnerable, and barely breaks a sweat. Then ends it all with a sly grin that reminds you that even if “Becky with the good hair” existed, she wouldn’t last three seconds under a withering Beyonce gaze.

28-brit-g-eazy-vmas.nocrop.w529.h3167. What we did hear about for weeks before the show was the highly touted return to the MTV stage for Britney Spears. Look, again I’ll say – you have to root for Spears considering all that she’s overcome. She looks great and her new album, “Glory,” is surprisingly solid.

But, as one Twitter user aptly summarized, “Britney following Beyonce is like eating a steak and then soup.” Why, why, WHY would the MTV producers put Spears in such an unenviable position? She’s never been a commanding performer – her kewpie doll act wore thin around 2001 – and watching her writhe around during her new song, “Make Me,” was wince inducing. And really, the lip-syncing is laughable at this point. It’s not as if she’s trying to hit Streisand notes in her songs – any amateur singing in the car or shower can follow along with her aural paint-by-numbers material – yet she still has to fake it.

Poor G-Easy. Not only did the dude have, essentially, a cardboard cutout of a pop singer to play off of, but he looked as if he wanted to make a move and go in for a real kiss, only to be rebuffed on a rather public stage.

Now THAT’S a move out of the Beyonce playbook, Brit!



  • Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna –- “This Is What You Came For”
  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey –- “Closer”
  • Drake featuring Kyla & Wizkid –- “One Dance”
  • WINNER: Fifth Harmony featuring Fetty Wap –- “All In My Head (Flex)”
  • Justin Timberlake –- “Can’t Stop The Feeling”
  • Kent Jones –- “Don’t Mind”
  • Major Lazer featuring Justin Bieber MØ –- “Cold Water”
  • Nick Jonas featuring Ty Dolla $ign –- “Bacon”
  • Selena Gomez –- “Kill ‘Em With Kindness”
  • Sia – “Cheap Thrills”


  • WINNER: Drake — “Hotline Bling”
  • Desiigner — “Panda”
  • Bryson Tiller — “Don’t”
  • Chance the Rapper featuring Saba — “Angels”
  • 2 Chainz — “Watch Out”


  • Drake — “Hotline Bling”
  • Bryson Tiller — “Don’t”
  • WINNER: Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna — “This Is What You Came For”
  • Kanye West — “Famous”
  • The Weeknd — “Can’t Feel My Face”


  • WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”
  • Adele – “Hello”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • Alesso – “I Wanna Know”
  • Ariana Grande – “Into You”


  • WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”
  • Adele – “Hello”
  • Fergie – “M.I.L.F. $”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • Ariana Grande – “Into You”


  • WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”
  • Coldplay – “Up&Up”
  • Adele – “Hello”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • Tame Impala – “The Less I Know The Better”


  • WINNER: Beyoncé – “Formation”
  • Missy Elliott ft. Pharrell – “WTF (Where They From)”
  • Beyoncé – “Sorry”
  • FKA Twigs – “M3LL155X”
  • Florence + The Machine – “Delilah”


  • Beyoncé — “Hold Up”
  • Fergie — “M.I.L.F. $”
  • Drake — “Hotline Bling”
  • WINNER: David Bowie — “Blackstar”
  • Adele — “Hello”


  • Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar — “Freedom”
  • WINNER: Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign — “Work From Home”
  • Ariana Grande ft. Lil Wayne — “Let Me Love You”
  • Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna — “This Is What You Came For”
  • Rihanna ft. Drake — “Work” (short version)


  • Adele — “Hello”
  • WINNER: Beyoncé — “Hold Up”
  • Sia — “Cheap Thrills”
  • Ariana Grande — “Into You”
  • Rihanna ft. Drake — “Work” (short version)


  • Bryson Tiller
  • Desiigner
  • Zara Larsson
  • Lukas Graham


  • Adele — “Hello”
  • WINNER: Beyoncé — “Formation”
  • Drake — “Hotline Bling”
  • Justin Bieber — “Sorry”
  • Kanye West — “Famous”


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