WHO, WHAT, WEAR
Needless to say, 2020 has been an adjustment period for all of us. The entertainment industry in particular has been a strange new normal to figure out. One major adjustment has been awards shows, which have had to halt or postpone their usual celebrity gatherings that fans love to see. Despite some initial concerns, it seems that the VMAs have safely pulled off the first major awards show in the social distancing era.
And what a show it was! The 2020 VMAs were expected to be unconventional and unlike anything we had seen before, and luckily, MTV delivered while also keeping the fans safe. Held on a rooftop in downtown Manhattan, the show was able to keep crowds socially distanced while bringing us some truly stunning performances and fashion.
Hosted by Keke Palmer, the 2020 VMAs brought some truly iconic celebrity looks that we had all been starving for. The host herself had several outfit changes throughout the evening, including a stunning white and blue feather dress. The performers were on full display as always, with a new twist on the red carpet as each celebrity was able to be given an individual spotlight to maintain social distancing guidelines. Da Baby (pictured above) hit the show with a black Supreme fur coat with Louis Vuitton shorts with sleek black boots and glasses to match, before changing into a color swapped version of the outfit sporting all Laker colors to deliver the opening performance. Doja Cat (pictured below) also shined as she won the PUSH Best New Artist award while showing off a stylish Versace dress with matching Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.
One of the most uplifting aspects of this year’s show especially was the influence of cultures from around the world. The VMAs put on an excellent celebration of global cultures through their focus on Latinx and South Korean music. K-pop group BTS took home 3 awards including Best Group and Best Pop while giving us a look at South Korean street-wear and delivering their first VMAs performance all the way from South Korea. The show also gave us a celebration of Latinx culture by highlighting the Spanish Harlem and the different Latinx communities in New York. Maluma took home Best Latin for his song “Qué Pena”, while new boy band CNCO (pictured below) gave us a taste of Latinx fashion while giving nods to the boy bands that inspired them.
Lady Gaga, however, stole the fashion spotlight at the 2020 VMAs, just as fans were anticipating. She returned to her fashion queen roots by sporting 9 different bombastic outfits throughout the night, each with their own face mask that were each a fashion statement on their own. Pictured below are two highlights, a jaw-dropping green ball gown paired with a Chromatica inspired face mask and a sequin-covered body suit paired with a flowing feather coat.
A surprising advantage of the socially distanced format of this year’s show was the ability of artists to have more space and artistic freedom for their performances. No longer constricted to one stage with some artists performing remotely from other locations, performers were given much more range in the special effects and expression they were allowed. The results were some of the most memorable awards show performances in recent years! Lady Gage and Ariana Grande were undeniable headliners. Ariana’s performance started with Lady Gaga exiting her psychedelic quarantine home to give a solo performance of “Stupid Love” on a stage full of mannequins. She followed it up by swapping to a sci-fi dreamscape straight out of her new album Chromatica as Ariana joined her for their smash hit “Rain on Me.”
Gaga and Grande certainly stole the show, but they were not the only ones to stun the crowds. Miley Cyrus gave us an emotionally affecting rendition of her song “Midnight Sky”, referencing her recent divorce while wearing a black version of her iconic “Wrecking Ball” outfit and riding a giant disco ball. Doja Cat also delighted nostalgic fans of MTV News by referencing it through her performance of “Say So” and “Like That.” To wrap it all up, veteran artists The Black Eyed Peas made their (surprisingly enough) first VMAs performance with “Vida Loca,” along with help from Tyga and Nicky Jam. Nicky was projected across the sky into downtown Manhattan to truly close the show in grand style, but the group and the projections were not done yet. They gave the audience a surprise in the form of their classic “I Gotta Feeling” as a spaceship was projected across the New York skyline.
Through all the glamor and grand performances, awards shows are always meant to celebrate our favorite artists of the year. And the winners this year were certainly worth celebrating. Taylor Swift proved her mantle in the industry by winning her first award for Best Direction for her self directed video for “The Man.” MGK was also seen bouncing back after his feud with Eminem by winning the “Best Alternative” award. One of the more powerful moments of the show, however, came in the form of The Weeknd’s two wins for Best Video and Best R&B, which were both dedicated by him to seeking justice for the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
The removal of gendered categories was a big step for the VMAs, including the changing of the Moon Man award to the Moon Person award, but it also showed us that this year, music is being dominated by strong women artists. Megan Thee Stallion won with her song “Savage” for Best Hip Hop against 5 male competitors in the category, proving that women are making a bigger push in the genre than ever before. The empowerment felt by the women of music was felt most strongly by the night’s two biggest winners: Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. They far and away secured the most Moon Person awards of the night, with Ariana taking home 4 awards and Gaga taking home 5 including Artist of the Year. Added onto Lady Gaga’s star-affirming night was the very first VMAs Tricon Award, an award given to an artist who has been influential and artistically successful in three different decades. Truly deserved for an artist that has impacted so many fans throughout her career.
The 2020 VMAS might have been the first major awards show since the pandemic hit, but it certainly won’t be the last. The show proved that we can have a phenomenal night of fashion and music while staying safe, distanced, and wearing a mask that can double as a fashion statement.