On Sunday, Aug. 30, the MTV Video Music Awards aired, despite so many award shows, festivals and events being canceled due to the coronavirus. The VMAs implemented various COVID-19 preventative measures, which included no audience members and outdoor performances.
The VMAs were hosted by Keke Palmer and featured performances by The Weeknd, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, and others. Alongside normal VMA categories, there were special quarantine categories like “Best Music Video from Home,” and “Best Quarantine Performance.”
Abiding by CDC guidelines, the awards show opted for a mix of live performances, pre-recorded segments, and Zoom-like home videos.
“I was more intrigued this year to see how they were going to pull it off,” said Amanda Thompson, University of Tampa senior communications major. “I don’t think it flowed particularly well because they advertised it as being live, they didn’t say parts would be pre-recorded or anything like that so I was expecting it to be like they were all there.”
Some of the performances of the night were done at different locations around New York City. The Weeknd opened the show with a performance of his song “Blinding Lights” on the Edge, a balcony location on a high rise. Other performances took advantage of green screen technology. BTS performed their song “Dynamite” while scenes of New York City played behind them.
“They used a lot of green screens and sets that really added to some of the performances,” said Thompson. “Versus the artist just being on the stage.”
The night was about celebrating the music of artists in various genres, but it went beyond the music with a focus on the state of America right now.
“I loved how powerful it was, how it was not only an awards show but also a very important commentary about our political and social environment right now,” said Lyn Campbell, sophomore psychology and biology major. “From the Breona Taylor earrings to the message about Black Lives Matter, having the first black woman Keke Palmer host the VMAs. So I thought it was very special in that way.”
DaBaby’s performance of a medley of his songs was underlined by his choice to perform atop a police car. Meanwhile, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s performance of “Rain on Me” was done with both pop stars wearing masks, stressing the importance of wearing them right now.
The winners of the night included The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” for Video of the Year, Lady Gaga for Artist of the Year, Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande “Rain on Me” for Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, and Best Cinematography. Meanwhile, k-pop group BTS brought their genre of music to a widespread American audience, winning the award for Best Group.
“I thought that was very cool because kpop has been so influenced by american hip hop and american pop but to also see that now kpop is included,” said Campbell. “I think that is an awesome cultural exchange that we might not have seen otherwise.”
Despite the packed nomination list that featured songs by everyone from Megan Thee Stallion to Blink-182, there were some names that weren’t seen as much as fans wanted.
“I just wonder a bit, where was Harry Styles in this mixture,” said Thompson. “You couldn’t avoid Watermelon Sugar if you wanted to, you would think that he would be in there somewhere because he had that album which was pretty big.”
Complete List of Winners
Video of the Year – The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
Artist of the Year – Lady Gaga
Song of the Year – Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – “Rain on Me”
Best Collaboration – Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – “Rain on Me”
Push Best New Artist – Doja Cat
Best Pop – BTS – “On”
Best Hip-Hop – Megan Thee Stallion – “Savage”
Best Rock – Coldplay – “Orphans”
Best Alternative – Machine Gun Kelly – “Bloody Valentine”
Best Latin – Maluma ft. J Balvin – “Que Pena”
Best R&B – The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
Best K-Pop – BTS – “On”
Video for Good – H.E.R. – “I Can’t Breathe”
Best Music VIdeo From Home – Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber – “Stuck with U”
Best Group – BTS
Best Quarantine Performance – CNCO – MTV Unplugged at Home
Best Direction – Taylor Swift – “The Man”
Best Cinematography – Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – :”Rain on Me”
Best Art Direction – Miley Cyrus – “Mother’s Daughter”
Best Visual Effects – Dua Lipa – “Physical”
Best Choreography – BTS – “On”
Best Editing – Miley Cyrus – “Mother’s Daughter”