Kanye spoke, Beyoncé astounded, but some other stuff had to happen at the VMAs to keep the show just long enough to feel interminable. Awards were handed out, though those were mostly an afterthought; there were numbers from artists whose names you haven’t bothered to learn (The Chainsmokers? Halsey?); and beloved comedians did bits that were as subtle as anvils. Sadly, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were the worst offenders. That reunion should have been a blessed occurrence—instead, we were forced to suffer through “influencer” characters who yammered on about Twitter.
Outside of Kanye’s scheduled “me time” and Beyoncé’s takeover, one of the most anticipated performances of the night was Britney Spears’ return to the VMAs stage after a prolonged absence. But the run of show was decidedly unfair: Poor Spears had to follow the Lemonade medley. What ultimately transpired wasn’t dreadful; it was certainly better than Spears’ “Gimme More” in 2007. But it was underwhelming. Spears, wearing a neon, snake-yellow get-up, pretended to sing her new single “Make Me…” and did body rolls and hair flips against a backdrop of hand shadow puppets. She was then joined onstage by rapper G-Eazy, who seemed to think this was about him, which it wasn’t. Cede the stage, dude.
Rihanna, this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, popped up throughout the night, serving up her hits as a palate cleanser. The prize was ultimately presented to her by Drake, who didn’t arrive in time to pick up his own trophy for Best Hip Hop Video, but did show up in a tux. For a moment there it seemed like he was going to propose marriage. He didn’t, but he did profess his love for her, to which Rihanna responded with Han Solo-like nonchalance (step aside, Alden Ehrenreich).
If you’re curious as to who actually took home Moonman statues, here are the winners in the major categories via MTV. Beyoncé has now taken over for Madonna as artist with the most VMAs to her name.
Video Of The Year: Beyoncé, “Formation”
Best Female Video: Beyoncé, “Hold Up”
Best Male Video: Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For”
Best Collaboration: Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign, “Work From Home”
Best Hip Hop Video: Drake, “Hotline Bling”
Best Pop Video: Beyoncé, “Formation”
Song Of The Summer: Fifth Harmony featuring Fetty Wap, “All In My Head”
Best Rock Video: twenty one pilots, “Heathens”
Best Electronic Video: Calvin Harris & Disciples, “How Deep Is Your Love”
Breakthrough Longform Video: Beyoncé, Lemonade
Best New Artist: DNCE