Well, yet another VMA show is behind us. There were some fun moments, and some considerably less fun moments. Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus, who was clearly not expecting it, while Rebel Wilson performed a questionable bit about police strippers that she probably should have thought through a little more. But, of course, the most memorable part of any music award show is the performances. There were tons of them Sunday night, and some were a lot better than others. With that in mind, let’s look at which performances will go down VMA history, and which ones are best forgotten.
Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift – “Trini Dem Girls” / “The Night Is Still Young” / “Bad Blood”
This opening number will probably be best remembered for Taylor and Nicki burying the hatchet, but, frankly, that was the least entertaining part of the performance, and all it did was make me wonder if the entire “feud” was staged from the beginning. No, this was awesome because it featured some of the most ambitious choreography of the night, not to mention surprisingly clear sound, considering how loud the audience often gets. If all that gets talked about is Nicki and Taylor hugging it out, and Nicki’s great performance goes unnoticed, that would be a real shame.
The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
Unlike Nicki and Macklemore, there was no advanced choreography here, but there didn’t need to be. It was simply a soulful performance of one of The Weeknd’s best songs, and it reminded us that, ultimately, substance trumps style every time. Plus, Kanye was really getting down to this one. Clearly, he likes The Weeknd a lot more than Macklemore.
Kanye’s Acceptance Speech
Sure, this wasn’t technically a performance, but it was easily the best part of the night, as Yeezy gave us a glorious stream-of-conscious rant that, occasionally, actually made some sense. KANYE 2020!
Demi Lovato/Iggy Azalea – “Cool for the Summer”
The only positive thing I can say about this performance is that Iggy wasn’t on stage very long. Beyond that, it just seemed dull and uninspired. A VMA performance doesn’t need to have a lot of intricate choreography to be compelling — just look at The Weeknd — but, in this case, the song itself wasn’t particularly interesting (at least not in this setting — the studio version sounds much better), and the lack of anything exciting happening on stage just exacerbated that problem. Honestly, at times, it felt like a less ambitious version of what Macklemore had done earlier in the night.
Justin Bieber – “Where Are U Now” / “What Do You Mean”
This was the latest stop in Bieber’s “I Swear I’m Not A Terrible Human Being, Even Though I’ve Been Acting Like One Since The Very Moment I Became Famous” tour, complete with a cringe-inducing spoken-word portion that made a Kim Kardashian Instagram post seem profound. First off, this performance was disjointed; you couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a moment of reflection and contrition, or a fun dance song. Bieber tried to make it both, and the end result was just confusing more than anything else. Okay, fine, Justin, you can be famous again. Just please stop trying to be deep.
Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz – “Dooo It!”
In theory, Miley Cyrus performing with 31 drag queens should be really interesting, but this was just incomprehensible. It was a whole lot of pretty colors and loudness, but none of it made much sense. Miley ended her performance by announcing she was giving away a new album for free, but, after this mess, it’s hard to imagine anyone being particularly excited for it. Also, Wayne Coyne was there, but he didn’t play “Christmas at the Zoo,” so who cares?