MTV Awards 2021: More sparks fly on red carpet than on stage

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

picture supply, Getty Images
picture captionPop newcomer Olivia Rodrigo received three prizes, together with track of the yr

The MTV Video Music Awards returned to New York on Sunday, with main wins for pop stars previous and new.

Sparks flew earlier than the ceremony when Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor and rapper Machine Gun Kelly have been concerned in an altercation on the red carpet.

Olivia Rodrigo then received finest new artist and finest track for Drivers License, whereas Justin Bieber received finest artist.

The foremost award, video of the yr, went to Lil Nas X for his single Montero (Call Me by Your Name).

“Let’s go, gay agenda”, hollered the rapper, who has made LGBT-positive messaging and imagery a central part of his music.

The 22-year-old, whose actual title is Montero Lamar Hill, additionally gave one of many night time’s finest performances, segueing from a marching band introduction to a lurid pink jail scene the place, for good measure, he stripped to his boxer shorts and twerked in a bathe.

picture supply, Getty Images
picture captionLil Nas X’s prison-themed set referred the video for his track Industry Baby

Hosted by rapper Doja Cat, the ceremony marked the fortieth anniversary of MTV’s launch in America.

Madonna opened the present, telling the story of how she had arrived in New York 40 years in the past “with nothing but $35 and a pair of dance shoes” earlier than discovering an ally within the new music video community.

“We formed a bond that changed my life and created a whole new art form. That’s why there’s only one place to be tonight,” mentioned the star, who went on to win 20 MTV “moon-person” statues.

The MTV Awards have been established three years later, in 1984, and shortly gained a status as must-see tv.

picture supply, Getty Images
picture captionMadonna paid tribute to the influence of MTV on pop music within the 80s and 90s

Over the years, they have been chargeable for extra popular culture moments than some other award present – together with Madonna’s debut in 1984, performing Like A Virgin whereas writhing round in a marriage costume; Eminem performing with a military of 100 clones; Lady Gaga’s notorious meat costume; and, in fact, Kanye West dashing the stage throughout Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009.

This yr, nonetheless, produced few moments that may stick within the thoughts. Many performances felt like diminished retreads of former glories.

It was candy when Twenty-One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph introduced throughout their set that his spouse was pregnant – however it was nothing in contrast with Beyoncé revealing her baby bump through the 2011 present.

Rodrigo smashed a digital camera (or reasonably a glass plate in entrance of a digital camera) throughout a rousing efficiency of Good 4 U. But, once more, Beyoncé had executed it first – in her case with with a baseball bat, in 2016.

And whereas Doja Cat’s aerial efficiency of Been Like This was visually beautiful, it could not examine with Pink’s death-defying acrobatics in 2009.

Somehow, this yr’s present was much less memorable than 2020’s socially-distanced ceremony.

picture supply, Getty Images
picture captionDoja Cat raided the dress-up field for her appearances all through the ceremony

On the opposite hand, Doja Cat – actual title Amala Dlamini – judged her internet hosting duties completely, sporting a collection of more and more absurd outfits because the present went on.

After showing in rooster legs and balancing a chair on her head, she ended up accepting the prize for finest collaboration – for Kiss Me More with SZA – in an outfit that seemed like Heimlich, the fats inexperienced caterpillar from Pixar’s A Bug’s Life.

“I look like a worm, that’s dope,” mentioned the star. “I never thought I’d be dressed as a worm while accepting an award.”

Here are eight of the opposite moments:

1. Machine Gun Kelly and Conor McGregor had an altercation

picture supply, Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock
picture captionConor McGregor needed to be held again on the red carpet

According to TMZ, the scuffle started when McGregor requested Kelly for {a photograph} collectively, however the musician denied his request.

Footage and pictures present McGregor throwing a drink, and a punch apparently being thrown – though safety guards held the pair aside.

They regained their composure shortly, and McGregor performed down the incident. “Nothing happened with me,” he later told Entertainment Tonight. “I only fight real fighters.”

2. Harry Styles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge received a dancing prize

picture supply, Helene Pambrun

One of the extra surprising awards of the night time went to Harry Styles, who received finest choreography for his fashionable video Treat People With Kindness.

The artwork deco clip featured an exuberant dance routine between Styles and Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, impressed by the 1943 movie Stormy Weather.

The video beat extra modern (and complex) movies by the likes of Ariana Grande and BTS however, speaking to the BBC earlier this year, choreographer Paul Roberts mentioned he had an inkling of why Treat People With Kindness had struck a chord.

“The whole thing has a nostalgia for a time where you could be in a club and socialise with friends with no social distancing,” he mentioned. “I think the chemistry Harry and Phoebe have together just oozes joy. And for most people joy is in short supply.”

3. Olivia Rodrigo was bleeped – despite the fact that she did not swear

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Rodrigo, the breakout star of 2021, gave a gutsy efficiency of Good 4 U, with the viewers singing each phrase again at her.

That prompted a slight drawback for the censors – as a result of, though Rodrigo averted the track’s sole f-word, the group saved going. Censors pounced, slicing the sound in the course of the monitor.

Rodrigo went on to win three prizes. “This has been the most magical year of my life,” mentioned the 18-year-old whereas accepting finest track. “I want to dedicate this award to all of the other girls who write songs on their bedroom floor.

“There are lots of people who will attempt to dim your mild, however talking your thoughts and listening to your coronary heart are probably the most highly effective issues on this planet.”

4. Cyndi Lauper and Billie Eilish spoke up for girls

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Cyndi Lauper was on hand to present Justin Bieber with the best pop song prize – but also used her time on stage to deliver an important message on women’s rights.

“I received a moon particular person on the very first VMAs in 1984. Things are somewhat completely different now,” she said at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“Yeah, ladies wanna have enjoyable. But we additionally need to have funds, equal pay and management over our our bodies. You know, basic rights.”

Eilish picked up the theme as she won the Video For Good award – which honours artists who spread positive messages in their music.

“I simply need to say that we have to shield our younger girls in any respect prices. For actual,” she mentioned.

“We additionally must do not forget that all of us have energy, and we have now to recollect to not abuse it.”

5. Foo Fighters paid tribute to Charlie Watts

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Foo Fighters were named Global Icons – a new prize that definitely wasn’t made up for the occasion – marking their 26 years as one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

They were introduced by Billie Eilish, who said an “total technology of music followers” had grown up with the band, and “they helped the world fall in love with rock ‘n’ roll”.

That was adopted by a medley of 1999 hit Learn To Fly, final yr’s Shame Shame and a powerhouse efficiency of Everlong – which had Rodrigo singing along from the entrance row.

The band also paid tribute to late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, with Taylor Hawkins’ kick drum inscribed with the message “Charlie R.I.P.”

6. Chloe Bailey’s spectacular live debut

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Beyoncé’s protégé Chloe Bailey tore up the stage with her first ever solo performance, delivering flawless vocals and whip-crack choreography as she played her new single Have Mercy.

If she was nervous to be performing without her sister and bandmate Halle Bailey (who’s busy filming the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Little Mermaid), it didn’t show. She dipped, flipped and twerked as if her life depended on it – only letting the emotions show when she got here off stage and burst into tears.

“I wanna be Chloe Bailey once I develop up,” wrote US gymnast Simone Biles when the efficiency ended.

7. Justin Bieber bought actual

picture supply, Getty Images

Making his first MTV Awards appearance since 2016, Bieber descended from the ceiling to perform Stay from the top of a giant polystyrene rock. As you do.

He went on to win artist of the year, recognising his latest album, Justice, and a string of hit singles over the last 12 months.

Accepting the trophy, he was one of the few artists to address the impact of the pandemic.

“We are in unprecedented occasions proper now with this Covid factor that is taking place,” he said. “It’s a giant deal [and] music is such an incredible alternative and an incredible outlet to succeed in folks and actually deliver folks collectively, and that is why we’re right here proper now.

“We have a lot more in common than we don’t,” he continued. “I really do believe the best is yet to come.”

8. Busta Rhymes closed the present in fashion

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Calling again to the golden period of hip-hop on MTV, Busta Rhymes delivered a rapid-fire medley of his largest hits, from the slinky funk of Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, by way of the Tribe Called Quest traditional Scenario and MOP’s Ante UP, earlier than wrapping up together with his ageless occasion anthem Pass The Courvoisier.

The star, who was chargeable for a few of hip-hop’s most groundbreaking and memorable music movies, devoted the set to his hometown, telling the viewers: “Brooklyn, don’t ever forget that.”

A wonderfully-judged present nearer, it ended up being one of many night time’s most riveting performances.

Full record of winners

  • Video of the yr – Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Artist of the yr – Justin Bieber
  • Song of the yr – Olivia Rodrigo: Drivers License
  • Best new artist – Olivia Rodrigo
  • Group of the yr – BTS
  • MTV Push efficiency of the yr – Olivia Rodrigo: Drivers License
  • Best collaboration – Doja Cat ft SZA: Kiss Me More
  • Best pop – Justin Bieber: Peaches (ft Daniel Caesar and Giveon)
  • Best hip-hop – Travis Scott: Franchise (ft Young Thug and M.I.A.)
  • Best rock – John Mayer: Last Train Home
  • Best different – Machine Gun Kelly: My Ex’s Best Friend (ft Blackbear)
  • Best Latin – Billie Eilish and Rosalía: Lo Vas a Olvidar
  • Best R&B – Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic: Leave the Door Open
  • Best Okay-pop – BTS: Butter
  • Song of summer season – BTS: Butter
  • Video for good – Billie Eilish: Your Power
  • Best video direction- Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Best video cinematography – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, Saint Jhn, WizKid: Brown Skin Girl
  • Best video artwork route – Saweetie ft Doja Cat: Best Friend
  • Best video visible results – Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Best choreography – Harry Styles: Treat People With Kindness
  • Best video modifying – Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic: Leave the Door Open
  • Global icon award – Foo Fighters
  • Best breakthrough track – Claire Rosinkranz: Backyard Boy
  • Best comeback track – Aly & AJ: Potential Breakup Song
  • Best artist x creator collab – Mustard Watermelon by Lizzo x Yayayayummy
  • Best audio mashup – DJ Cummerbund: Shaxicula (Toxic x Love Shack x Dragula) by Britney Spears/The B-52’s/Rob Zombie
  • Best viral dance – City Girls x Layzchipz: Twerkulator

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