Underwhelming or overwhelming, you be the one to decide, but this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) certainly brought the heat, quite literally. Held at the historic Forum in Inglewood, CA, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar hit the stage with an explosive performance of “Humble” and “DNA”, complete with a super ‘lit’ stuntman, who sprinted off the stage in flames. Taking nothing short of greatness, Lamar went on to receive a grand total of six Moonpersons for the evening.
Hosted by pop-sensation Katy Perry, many viewers were expecting a showdown to go down between her and arch nemesis Taylor Swift. This didn’t happen, however, since Swift decided to skip the ceremonies in its entirety, despite winning for Best Collaboration. Besides, Swift’s recent video for “Look What You Made Me Do” throws enough shade to last through next summer, and Kanye West was absent to cue in for his usual interruption.
The night also included top pre-show performances from Khalid, who sang crowd favorites, “Young, Dumb & Broke” and “Location” and rapper Cardi B, who performed summer anthem, “Bodak Yellow”, in a studded blinged-out leotard. While both were nominated, Khalid would go on to snag the award for Best New Artist.
During the actual show, Fifth Harmony brought the drama with a saucy medley of their hit singles, “Angel” and “Down”, featuring Gucci Mane. The shade, however, was all too real, as the ladies started the set with five silhouettes, one of which was quickly yanked off the stage before the beat dropped as a dig to former member Camila Cabello, who recently left the group to pursue a solo singing career.
The VMAs also touched on racism, politics and White privilege as Paris Jackson, daughter of the late musical icon Michael Jackson, led the conversation to #StandAgainstHate. “Let’s leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi, White supremacists jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that a nation, with livery as our slogan, has zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred, and their discrimination. We must resist,” she uttered.
Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, descendant to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, whose statue sparked the controversy in Charlottesville that took the life of activist Heather Heyer’s, also spoke out against racism. “As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” he said before calling Heyer’s mother Susan Bro to the stage. While Blacks have endured the consequences of White supremacy for more than 400 years, preceding this moment, it was clear that the VMAs sought to place accountability on all races to stand in the gap against social injustice.
Shifting the paradigm, singer Pink showed the world what it means to defy beauty standards. The ‘Just Like a Pill’ pop-star received MTVs Video Vanguard Award and expressed the importance of self-image in her acceptance speech, noting a moment when her daughter felt she wasn’t beautiful. “Baby girl, we don’t change,” Pink said, peering at her 6-year-old daughter Willow in the audience. “We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people to change, so that they can see more kinds of beauty,” she continued.
Meanwhile, singer Alessia Cara added to the lesson on self-love with a heartfelt performance of ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’. Cara started the act in a fierce red gown, rocking a short bob and subtle makeup, only to be stripped down to a bare face, black top, leggings, and natural hair, redefining her terms of beauty.
After a series of odd jokes and awkward skits, Katy Perry ended the show in a chart-topping performance of her song, ‘Swish Swish’, featuring Nicki Minaj. Minaj rocked the stage in a latex black and white ensemble, while Perry dangled above a larger than net amidst a sea of oversized basketballs, eventually making her best shot to close the evening. For exclusive interviews from the night, visit www.lasentinel.net.