I will be doing a live blog, here, about MTV’s Video Music Awards show, which starts at the Prudential Center in Newark at 8 p.m. I’ll be starting with the red carpet and pre-show performances at 7 p.m.
See the blog items below. I will also keep a list of winners at the bottom of the page.
Tonight marks the first time the annual show has come to New Jersey.
10:49 p.m.: “Hip-hop may have been born in the Bronx, but it was raised across the river, in New Jersey,” said Newark-born Ice-T, introducing the grand finale, a tribute to New Jersey hip-hop. It was a medley starting with Naughty by Nature (“O.P.P.”) and then featuring segments with Redman (“Da Rockwilder”), Fetty Wap (“Trap Queen”), Wyclef Jean (“Gone Till November” and “No Woman No Cry”) and Queen Latifah (“U.N.I.T.Y.”) before ending with a group version of Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” and a final burst of confetti.
10:28 p.m.: Boy, it seems like every major nominee is winning at least one award. Works out really well for MTV. Almost as if they planned it out that way.
10:12 p.m.: Nice gesture having “Sopranos” actors Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Vincent Pastore and Drea de Matteo present an award, but their jokes are pretty lame. They give the Pop award to The Jonas Brothers, for “Sucker.” It’s “a Jersey dream” to receive an award from three Sopranos, says Joe Jonas.
10:09 p.m: Normani not even making a minimal attempt to hide the fact that she’s lip-synching while performing “Motivation.”
“If the Nets worked that hard on the court, they’d still be here,” says Maniscalco after the energetic dance number.
10:02 p.m.: No, they didn’t switch to a rerun of the 1993 VMAs show. Lenny Kravitz, presenting an award, just happens to look exactly like he did then.
9:34 p.m.: Queen Latifah and John Travolta are presenting the Video of the Year award together. “This is a New Jersey homecoming for both of us … I grew up around the corner,” says Latifah.
Award goes to Taylor Swift, for her anti-homophobia anthem, “You Need to Calm Down.” Noting that this is a fan-voted award, she says: “I first want to say thank you to the fans, because in this video, several points were made, so you voting for this video means that you want a world where we’re all treated equally under the law.”
9:46 p.m.: Miley Cyrus does her new “Slide Away.” Good song, well sung. Tasteful presentation, with a string section onstage with her. You don’t always have to go over the top to make a big impression.
9:28 p.m.: Shawn Mendes returns to stage to perform “Señorita” with Camila Cabello. Meant to be steamy. More like yawn-inducing.
9:12 p.m.: Missy Elliott (see video below) makes it perfectly clear with her production number: She should be asked, immediately, to perform at the next Super Bowl halftime show. That was as elaborate, and as spectacular, as anything I’ve ever seen at the Big Game. And it was on a smaller setting (an arena, not a stadium). Second wow moment of the night (after Lizzo).
In her acceptance speech when receiving the Video Vanguard Award (for lifetime achievement), Elliott dedicates the award to “the dance community all around the world. Because when y’all get on the stage with these artists, y’all are not just props. Y’all are the icing on the cake. Y’all are the beat to the heart. And so I dedicate this to every dance community out there.”
8:56 p.m.: Taylor Swift wins the Video for Good award for “You Need to Calm Down.”
8:45 p.m.: The Jonas Brothers doing “Sucker” in pre-taped segment from The Stone Pony. Then they walk over to a beach stage, singing and playing guitar all the way, and break into “Only Human” once they get there. The number ends with fireworks. All very tame, but undeniably effective. I just hope no one out there thinks this has anything to do with New Jersey rock ‘n’ roll.
8:36 p.m.: Lizzo’s set is wild and celebratory. Easily the best performance of the night so far. Am impressed. (see video below)
8:29 p.m.: Presenting the Latin award, rapper French Montana and actress Alison Brie get political. The Morocco-born Montana says he’s an immigrant, and “we are the people who make the country.”
The award goes to Rosalía and J. Balvin, featuring El Guincho, for “Con Altura.” In his acceptance speech, Balvin talks about the fires currently threatening the Brazilian rainforest.
8:28 p.m.: Gotta say Maniscalco is a weird fit for this show. His humor has a dour quality to it, while everything else about the show is bright and bubbly.
8:24 p.m.: Shawn Mendes doing the very catchy “If I Can’t Have You.”
8:16 p.m.: Cardi B wins Hip-Hop Award for “Money.”
8:08 p.m.: In his opening monologue, Maniscalco says “We’re celebrating music the way it always was intended: In a hockey rink in the middle of Newark.”
8 p.m.: Taylor Swift’s opening number — featuring “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover” — has a rainbow color scheme, and she has the words “Equality Act” spelled out in large letters on both sides of the stage.
7:42 p.m.: “Boyfriend,” by Ariana Grande and Social House, is named Song of the Summer. Grande is touring in Europe and therefore unable to attend
7:36 p.m.: In a pre-show red carpet interview, Halsey describes her typical look as “kind of naked, kind of classy.”
7:34 p.m.: The Chainsmokers featuring Bebe Rexha win Best Dance award, for “Call You Mine.”
7:32 p.m.: CNCO lip-synching its way through its pre-show number, outside the arena. Nice — and a bit surreal — to see familiar Newark buildings in the background, behind them.
7:19 p.m.: Billie Eilish wins Push Artist of the Year award. She is not attending but sent a short video that is played during the pre-game show. Push is an MTV program that promotes new artists. There is also a Best New Artist award that will be presented later; Eilish is nominated there, too, and is a good bet to win.
Artist of the Year: Ariana Grande
Video of the Year: Taylor Swift, You Need to Calm Down”
Song of the Year: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road (Remix)”
New Artist: Billie Eilish
Hip-Hop: Cardi B, “Money”
R&B: Normani featuring 6lack, “Waves” – Keep Cool/RCA Records
Pop: The Jonas Brothers, “Sucker”
Latin: Rosalía & J Balvin featuring El Guincho, “Con Altura”
Rock: Panic! At the Disco, “High Hopes”
K-Pop: BTS featuring Halsey, “Boy With Luv”
Dance: The Chainsmokers featuring Bebe Rexha, “Call You Mine”
Collaboration: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, “Señorita”
Power Anthem: Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, “Hot Girl Summer”
Video for Good: Taylor Swift, “You Need to Calm Down”
Song of the Summer: Ariana Grande and Social House, “Boyfriend”
Direction: Calmatic for “Old Town Road (Remix),” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
Art Direction: John Richoux for “7 Rings,” by Ariana Grande
Cinematography: Scott Cunningham for “Señorita,” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
Choreography: Charm La’Donna for “Con Altura,” by Rosalía and J Balvin (featuring El Guincho)
Visual Effects: Loris Paillier and Lucas Salton for BUF VFX for “ME!,” by Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco
Editing: Billie Eilish for her own “bad guy”
Push Artist of the Year: Billie Eilish
Video Vanguard Award: Missy Elliott
Fashion Trailblazer Award: Marc Jacobs
More awards to be announced later.
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