The MTV Video Music Awards are a generally curious affair, which every year sees the lush royalty of modern pop cult amass to revel in each other’s presence, outdo one another by means of fair play or warfare, and commit their antics for the peasants’ — the audience’s — viewing pleasure. Those beneath the spotlight on the stage and our TV screens were simultaneously the court jesters and the noblemen, and so like, any contemporary sense of balance or order must just cease to be, and we have to accept that there’s not much left to grasp our feeble hands onto. This year’s event may prove to be the most noteworthy, the most hashtaggable, of all VMA history, and now more than ever we’re just along for the ride.
The strategic hot mess that is Miley Ray Cyrus played host, two years following her legendarily-vulgar twerkfest to “We Can’t Stop.” So it was perhaps within the thick, bad blood of that spaceman statue, and in the show’s veins, that last night’s broadcast was destined to be controversial. Check out some of the high-lowlights below.
Taylor Swift Won In More Ways Than One
She really did. Aside from seeming to haul home pretty much every major award, including Best Video for “Bad Blood,” the pop paragon reigned supreme as the most graceful, poised and intelligent in an arena filled with manic, over-the-top personalities. Surrounded by the largest girl posse going, throughout the course of the night she made public amends with both Nicki Minaj — they doubled-up for a “The Night Is Still Young/Bad Blood” opening performance just weeks after a mistaken Twitter beef over the nominations —and Kanye West, to whom she presented the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, which is like, a rather big deal in the topsy-turvy world of the VMAs, y’know?
T-Swift also dropped an (expectedly subpar) music video for “Wildest Dreams,” but made up for it with her acceptance speech for the evening’s staple award. “I’m just happy in 2015 to live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers,” Swift concluded. You go girl.
Kanye’s Running For Prez
Spending the first half of the night snuggling his head, the vessel for his baked little brain, into wife Kim Kardashian’s lap, Mr. West couldn’t accept the Vanguard title without demonstrating the ingenious personality that bestowed him the award in the first place. So, after a number of pensive pauses and a familiar-sounding rant on the cruel politics of awards shows, Kanye proclaimed his future presidential aspirations and swiftly dropped the mic. We’re highly anticipating your 2020 follow-up, brah.
Justin Bieber’s Comeback Left Him Breathless
As far as we’re concerned, Justin Bieber owned his five-years-in-the-making return to the VMAs stage. He ousted some of the coolest dance moves all night to the sound of the Skrillex-produced twin singles that signify his comeback, a solid “Where Are Ü Now” leading into Friday-released “What Do You Mean” — and although there arose a noticeable shortness of breath, it was a powerful sight just to have Justin up there doing what he does best. Whether anxiety-induced, a cry for help, or a cleansing waterworks salvation, the great big bawl that ended Bieber’s revival was, in all honesty, the realest thing that happened at the ceremony. But in the sage words of J.D. Salinger, “the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid.” We’re here for you, buddy, and we’re so glad you’re back.
Miley Cyrus Can’t Do SNL, But Knows How To Go Out With A Bang
Oh Miley, Miley, Miley. Your raunchy skits were well-intentioned but existed in a space between cringe-worthy and “Someone hit the Mute button,” and everyone in America is now more than well-aware you own your sexuality and won’t say no to a hit off the ol’ bong. But your closing performance wholly redeemed the avant-garde fiasco you generated as host, and your surprise album “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” is out-there in the best of ways.
And if the dead petz weren’t enough, Miley summoned members of her Happy Hippie Foundation to introduce the grand finale. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to combat injustice facing homeless youth with a focus on LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized populations, and alongside contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Miley’s squad of extraordinary young adults lit up LA’s Microsoft Theater with all the colors of the rainbow.
It was a beguiling finish to a few hours that consisted of nothing less than beguiling beginnings and middles, but isn’t that sort of what it means to be a teen? Either way, Taylor and Yeezus and the Biebs and Nicki and Miley and every other head of class are no longer freshmen, and appear to be like, going for it like never before. What ‘it’ is we’re not so sure, but it’s safe to say that graduation never felt so far away.