— MTV (@MTV) August 29, 2016
When Rihanna kicked off the 2016 VMA’s, she energized and welcomed the screaming crowd with a few lines from 2007’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music” before launching into “Only Girl In The World.” Throughout the evening, she delivered hit after hit in a series of four medleys that showcased her diverse range of talent and style. Each medley focused on different themes and genres.
In her fourth and final performance of the evening, preceding her Vanguard Video Award acceptance speech, the singer sported a timelessly elegant yet futuristic white ball gown as she belted out her heartfelt, emotionally wrought ballad “Stay” before launching into “Diamonds” and the soulful “Love On The Brain” — the best track off Anti — against a simple white backdrop and backed by a pianist and a band of artists wearing all white. Even though she was surrounded by fellow entertainers and thousands of live audience members as millions of viewers watched on TV, it was also a seemingly intimate finale that showcased both her vulnerabilty and strength.
And then, in a moment that seems downright cinematic — or perhaps suitable for a fairytale ending of an evening — her boyfriend Drake appeared in a tuxedo to deliver a completely heartwarming and utterly sincere speech praising her accomplishments over the years. “She succeeds by doing what no one in this industry does, which is being herself,” he said after extolling her many virtues as a performer and long-time influencer.