The VMAs in review

Rihanna+accepts+the+Michael+Jackson+Video+Vanguard+Award+after+her+last+performance%2C+presented+to+her+by+Drake%2C+who+professed+his+love+for+her.
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The VMAs in review

Rihanna accepts the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after her last performance, presented to her by Drake, who professed his love for her.

Rihanna accepts the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after her last performance, presented to her by Drake, who professed his love for her.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Rihanna accepts the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after her last performance, presented to her by Drake, who professed his love for her.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Rihanna accepts the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after her last performance, presented to her by Drake, who professed his love for her.

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When the 33rd year of the 2016 Video Music Awards (VMAs) occurred on Aug. 28, fans watched eagerly as DJ Khaled finished hosting the pre-show, and celebrities started to arrive and pose on the red carpet. The comedic duo, Keegan Michael-Key, known as “Lizard Sheeple” and Jordan Peele, known as “Shamester,” started and guided the show by making tweets throughout the night with gems like “We’re getting a Rihanna performance for every year Frank Ocean didn’t release an album,” and, “#Presentersiwishwerehere Jared Leto and Jared Leto in character. I don’t know which one scares me more.”

Rihanna opened up the night at Madison Square Garden in New York with a medley of some of her biggest hits, like “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Only Girl (In the World),” and “Where Have You Been.” She danced in a white bathroom-esque setting and got the crowd excited. Her outfit was a futuristic yet modern blend, with her bottom half resembling a space suit. It was probably a tribute to the muse the VMA trophy is modeled after: a moonman.

Drake was up first on the winner board, getting a moonman for his song, “Hotline Bling,” in the category for “Best Hip-Hop Video,” but wasn’t physically there to receive it since, as Sean “Diddy” Combs, his presenter, said, Drake was “stuck in traffic.”

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj perform “Side to Side” on a stage themed around a gym.

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj perform “Side to Side” on a stage themed around a gym.

The next performance of the night was Ariana Grande performing “Side to Side” with Nicki Minaj. The women in Barbie-pink outfits performed in a recreation of L.A. Fitness as they danced alongside buff men with weights. The neon lights mixed with the fitness environment was a weird, but oddly enticing combination.                                              

Alicia Keys got on stage barefaced, continuing her no-makeup movement and recited a poem for the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech,“I Have A Dream.” Then, she finished the rest of poem in a capella without any music, backup tracks or vocals, and left the crowd cheering loudly.

Alicia Keys recites a poem for the 53rd anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” before revealing who the winner for “Best Male Video” was.

Photo by Getty Images
Alicia Keys recites a poem for the 53rd anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” before revealing who the winner for “Best Male Video” was.

The next award was presented to Calvin Harris in the category “Best Male Video” for his song featuring Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For,” but he was also unable to be there so he left behind a video message to thank everyone who voted for him.

Michael Phelps introduced Future, who was going to perform his song, “Fuc Up Some Commas.” Phelps also explained that the reason for his “serious” face at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a funny image of Phelps that spread all over the internet, was because he was listening to that song.

Kanye West went up next to present his new “artistic” video for his song, “Fade. Before the rapper presented it, though, he made a speech that at first sounded like he was giving himself a pat on the back (like always), but then it took a turn as he began to touch on the issue of racial inequality.

Kanye West delivers a speech before premiering the music video for his new song, “Fade.”

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Kanye West delivers a speech before premiering the music video for his new song, “Fade.”

“So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year and one kid came up to me and said, ‘three of my friends died and I don’t know whether I’m going to be the next,’” West said. “You know if you’re a senior and it’s your last month and you don’t feel like doing any more work? If you’re seeing people die next to you, life might start to feel worthless in a way.”

West wrapped up his speech on the note that he was standing in front of his idols and that he hoped everyone was having a good time. The video itself was a provocative dance between singer Teyana Taylor and her husband, Iman Shumpert. Taylor began the video mirroring Ariana’s performance in a gym, before moving it to a shower. At the end of the video, Taylor turned into a cat hybrid, surrounded by sheep.

Rihanna then performed again, filling up the stage with her crew as she sang and danced to more of her big hits. Her outfit this time was more street-like, fitting well with her choice of song.

Nick Jonas performed shortly after with Ty Dollar $ign in a diner for his song “Bacon,” and throughout the performance, celebrities like DNCE, Ashley Graham, Taylor Hill, Joane the Scammer and others made cameos as he weaved and danced between the waiters, who were delivering food to the celebrities.

Beyoncé starts out a medley performance of her album, Lemonade, in an all white outfit.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Beyoncé starts out a medley performance of her album, Lemonade, in an all white outfit.

Beyoncé, who was already the most anticipated performance of the night, was introduced by Serena Williams. Beyoncé also did a medley of her songs, promoting her album, Lemonade. The first song she performed was “Pray You Catch Me,” which left the audience speechless. As Beyoncé sang, her backup dancers swayed to the beat, and suddenly fell to the floor as a red light washed over them, symbolizing that they had been shot. This was probably a tribute to the police shootings, something Beyoncé is known for incorporating into her performances. At the pre-show, she even posed on the red carpet with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant III.

Three songs later, Beyoncé paused to hear the crowd cheering wildly, assuming that the performance was over, only for “Formation” to rile them up all over again. At the end of the song, Beyoncé stood in the middle of her dancers as they formed the “Venus Symbol,” which is commonly linked with femininity. The audience gave her a standing ovation, and the commentators had nothing to tweet, only claiming that Beyoncé had left them “dead.”  

In the “Professional Category Winners,” David Bowie won “Best Art Direction” for his video for the song “Blackstar. Coldplay won “Best Visual Effects” for “Up and Up”. Finally, “Best Choreography,” “Best Direction,” “Best Cinematography” and “Best Editing,” all went to Beyoncé’s “Formation.”

Jaden Smith and Shamik Moore presented Fifth Harmony with a moonman for their song, “Work,” featuring Ty Dollar $ign for the category, “Best Collaboration.”

Britney Spears and G-Eazy perform “Make Me.” This is Spears’ first VMAs performance since 2007.

Photo by Brian Ach/Wire Image
Britney Spears and G-Eazy perform “Make Me.” This is Spears’ first VMAs performance since 2007.

Kim K took the stage next to introduce Britney Spears’ first VMA performance since 2007. She performed “Make Me” with G-Eazy, dancing in a green leotard and the shadows of hands behind her on a screen.

Gold medal Olympic gymnastics winners took the stage to present Beyoncé with a moonman for her song, “Hold Up” in the category, “Best Female Video.”

Rihanna performed again, this time standing in front of a screen with different colors in a big fur coat. The screen behind her then turned into a lightning bolt, which was where she ended her second-to-last performance.

Fifth Harmony presented pop rock band DNCE with a moonman for “Best New Artist.” Shortly after, Chainsmokers and Halsey performed “Closer.

Rihanna closed up the VMAs with a ballad performance medley, and then was surprised when Drake (finally) showed up, only to present her with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, a very important award given only to artists who have changed the MTV culture with their work, and gave a speech that professed his love to her.

“She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22-years-old,” Drake said.”She’s one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me. She’s a living, breathing legend in our industry.”

With that, Rihanna received her award, and the VMAs came to a close.

Listen to the musical stylings performed at this year’s VMAs below: