NEW YORK, Aug 29, (Agencies): Beyonce on Sunday dominated the MTV Video Music Awards as she won a near-record award haul and awed the audience with a fiery dance medley with an unstated political message.
The pop superstar won Video of the Year for “Formation”, the most controversial work of her career, as she took home eight of the 11 awards for which she was nominated.
“Formation”, the first single off her intertwined film and album “Lemonade”, was shot in New Orleans and inspired by the city’s Creole culture, its bounce hip-hop scene and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“I dedicate this award to the people of New Orleans. God bless you guys”, Beyonce told the gala at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Beyonce stole the spotlight by performing for more than 16 minutes songs from “Lemonade”, managing even to change outfits in a set that culminated in the stage erupting in fire.
In one of the most striking moments, a series of gun-shots rang out as her dancers, in angelic white dresses, each dropped to the ground in a red fog.
The video for “Formation”, directed by Melina Matsoukas, had offered solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality with officers portrayed raising their hands as if under arrest.
Beyonce invited to the show, broadcast to more than 120 countries, the mothers of four young African American men whose deaths have galvanized the United States — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.
Martin, 17, was killed in 2012 by a white neighborhood guard, a catalyst moment for Black Lives Matter. Brown, Garner and Grant were all killed by law enforcement.
Singer Alicia Keys offered another of the night’s powerful moments as she recited a poem inspired by civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr who delivered his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington 53 years ago Sunday.
At eight awards, Beyonce tied her contemporary Lady Gaga and Norway’s a-ha — a sensation in MTV’s early years — for the second biggest win in a single night.
Peter Gabriel retains the record, set in 1987 after his animation-driven “Sledgehammer.”
In one of the night’s most anticipated moments, rap superstar Kanye West — who last year used the occasion to declare his intention to run for president in 2020 — delivered a nearly stream-of-consciousness speech about empowerment.
As the audience chanted his stage-name Yeezy, West likened his creative talent to that of Apple founder Steve Jobs and entertainment pioneer Walt Disney, and said that unnamed wealthy white people had warned him not to make the comparison.
He defended his “Famous”, also up for Video of the Year, which depicted clean-cut pop star Taylor Swift with him despite her complaints about the song.
Also seen with West in the video are Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, known for his hardline anti-immigration stance, and fashion editor Anna Wintour.
“We came over in the same boat. Now we all in the same bed”, West said, before clarifying that the on-screen lovers arrived on “maybe different boats.”
West then presented a racy new video for his song “Fade” featuring actress and singer Teyana Taylor.
Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj received roars of crowd approval for a take on a workout, with the pop singer and rapper dancing together.
Drake won in the rap category for “Hotline Bling”, one of the most popular songs of the year.
But Drake did not appear to accept the award. According to the presenter, rap icon Puff Daddy, the Toronto star got stuck in New York traffic.
Drake however did show up to present the Video Vanguard Award — named after late King of Pop Michael Jackson — to Rihanna, in recognition to her contributions to pop culture.
Drake gushed that Rihanna was “someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22.”
The 28-year-old Rihanna put on four medleys of her songs throughout the show in outfits that began with a snug white T-shirt.
In an acceptance speech, Rihanna pledged never to forget her native Barbados.
Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards show was all about performances that got the sweat dripping, the muscles ripping and the adrenaline pumping. Here are the top moments from Sunday’s show:
If there was any doubt that this night was all about Beyonce, she killed any notion of that idea with her amazing medley of songs from her incredible “Lemonade” visual album.
As the leading nominee, all eyes were on her to prove herself as the biggest musical act of her generation. And as usual, she delivered a flawless performance.
She moved seamlessly between outfits, songs and stages, singing with passion and strength. She danced through fire and smoke, took a baseball bat to a camera and had her dancers end the performance laying on the stage to symbolize the power of women. Mic dropped.
MTV has learned it’s better to give Kanye West the microphone than risk him taking it from someone else.
West, who famously jumped on stage to interrupt Taylor Swift at the VMAs in 2009, didn’t perform, but instead took the time to explain his controversial music video “Famous.”
He referenced back to his own past antics when he acknowledged that his music video might lose to Beyonce in the video of the year category. (It did.)
He made sure to reference several people whose images appeared in the video, including his former girlfriend Amber Rose, his wife’s ex Ray J and his perennial target, Swift, who was not there.
Any artist would have a hard time trying to match a Beyonce performance of this magnitude, but the multifaceted R&B singer Rihanna proved she could hold her own over the course of four separate performances throughout the show.
Rihanna, who was given the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, worked her way through her multitude of hits, from “Please Don’t Stop the Music”, to “Work” and “Diamonds.”
It was like a walk back through her musical career over the past decade. And then at the end, she gracefully accepted the award from a gushing Drake, who declared his love for her, and talked about winning the award for her home country of Barbados.
After West’s speech, he introduced his music video for “Fade” featuring singer Teyana Taylor, who is signed to West’s GOOD Music label.
In an homage to “Flashdance”, the athletic Taylor — dressed like a boxer — danced in a revealing outfit, shining with moisture among heavy weight machines and punching bags. Even her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert, appeared in the video in a shower sex scene.
The strange, sexy video was the talk of Twitter with plenty of women and men gaping over her incredible figure, which is all the more incredible because she gave birth to her daughter less than a year ago. Those are some major workout goals.
Between the real-life Olympic athletes to several athletic-themed performances, the VMAs felt like an Olympic rerun.
For starters, gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps revealed that he was listening to the rapper Future when he made the now-famous angry glare seen around the world during the Olympics.
And four members of the Final Five gymnastics team fan-girled out onstage when they got to hand over the award to Beyonce for best female video.
Finally, Jimmy Fallon impersonated swimmer Ryan Lochte, making false claims on his musical accomplishments — a reference to the accusation that Lochte filed a false robbery report while in Rio.
No one wants to follow Beyonce, but if you’re going to phone in a performance, you might as well do it when nobody is paying attention.
This was Britney Spears’ first VMA performance in a decade, and she’s got a long history of creating big moments on the awards show.
Instead she mechanically went through the rhythms in a low-key duet with rapper G-Eazy, in which they tried to force some chemistry that just wasn’t there.
Beyonce won the top prize for “Formation”, besting Adele, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Drake.
“First of all I’d like to thank my beautiful daughter and my incredible husband for all of their support”, said Beyonce, who walked the carpet with Blue Ivy by her side. “I dedicate this award to the people of New Orleans.”
Queen B kicked of her strong set with “Pray You Catch Me” as blue lights beamed onstage. She was wearing white, but later stripped down to a black leotard with full sleeves as she sang “Hold Up” and “Sorry.” She grew angry and twerked while performing “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and ended with the anthemic “Formation.”
“If y’all came to slay, sing along with me”, she said.
The audience at Madison Square Garden watched intensely Sunday, at times recording the performance with their phones.
It was reminiscent of the 2014 VMAs, when Beyonce also performed for 16 minutes and accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. This year it is being awarded to Rihanna, who split up her performances throughout the night, singing hits such as “Work”, “We Found Love” and “Love on the Brain.”
But the biggest moment for Rihanna came when Drake — in a tuxedo — presented the award to his former girlfriend. He said he met Rihanna in 2005 on the set of her first music video for “Pon De Replay.”
Rihanna, 28, thanked her family, friends and hometown of Saint Michael, Barbados for helping her succeed in her 11-year-career.
“All I can think of is my country, they’re gonna be so proud, this is the first Vanguard to land anywhere near my country”, she said. “My success started as my dream, but now my success is not my own. It’s my family, my fans, my country … it’s women, it’s black women.”
Beyonce’s top-notch performance starkly contrasted with that of Britney Spears, who returned to the VMA stage after 10 years. Not only did she lip sync, in typical fashion, but she did so badly. Spears performed her hit “Make Me…” and danced slickly, but she didn’t actually sing a word of the song live. She was joined by rapper G-Eazy — and she lip synched the hook to his hit song, “Me, Myself and I.”
Beyonce won best female video for “Hold Up”, presented to her by four of the Final Five gymnasts, excluding Gabby Douglas, who is hospitalized for a mouth infection.
“Thank you to my fans. I love you”, Beyonce said. “Have a beautiful night.”
Other performers including Ariana Grande, who brought spin class to the VMA stage when she sang the reggae-tinged “Side to Side” with Nicki Minaj.
In another ode to the Olympic Games just past, Michael Phelps said he’s been inspired by hip-hop music before introducing Future, who Phelps said he listened to before swimming and making the grimace that went viral. The rapper-singer-producer performed his hit “(Expletive) Up Some Commas.”
David Bowie — who died from cancer earlier this year — received four nominations for “Lazarus” and won best art direction. The music video, which shows him looking frail in bed with bandaged eyes, was released just days before the icon’s Jan 10 death.
Fifth Harmony and Ty Dollar $ign won best collaboration video for “Work from Home.” The girl group also won song of the summer for “All In My Head (Flex).” The pop band DNCE, led by Joe Jonas, won best new artist.
Pop princess Britney Spears took to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards stage Sunday in a raunchy but flat comeback performance that failed to impress her critics.
Spears, at the VMAs for the first time in nearly a decade, followed a 16-minute set by Beyonce Knowles that brought the house down at New York’s Madison Square Garden and was always going to struggle to match up.
Wearing a glittering metallic yellow bodysuit and supported by backup dancers dressed in black and white, she performed her new single “Make Me…” with rapper G-Eazy.
Despite grinding up against the 27-year-old Californian and even appearing to grope him at one point, the response on Twitter to her performance was underwhelming, with critics pointing out her lip-synching appeared way off.
“That performance was a hot mess. That outfit she was wearing made her look like a banana”, one said.
“Whatever the hell that was it was awful. Who thought she could follow Beyonce? #britney goodbye” tweeted another.
The singer had turned heads on the red carpet earlier in the evening in a one-shouldered, figure-hugging LBD with a revealing slit to the hip and black heels.
“So ready for this night #VMAs”, she tweeted alongside a backstage photo holding a champagne flute.
The “Toxic” singer admitted earlier this week she was nervous to make her return to the VMAs after a much-criticized last appearance in 2007.
Many fans pointed out however that Spears has given the VMAs some of their most iconic moments, including strutting on stage with a live python in 2001 and sharing a steamy kiss with Madonna in 2003.