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

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

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

image source, Getty Images
captionPop newcomer Olivia Rodrigo won three awards, including Song of the Year

The MTV Video Music Awards returned to New York on Sunday with big wins for old and new pop stars.

Sparks flew before the ceremony as Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor and rapper Machine Gun Kelly were involved in a brawl on the red carpet.

Olivia Rodrigo then won best new artist and best song for driver’s license, while Justin Bieber won best artist.

The main prize, video of the year, went to Lil Nas X for his single Montero (Call Me by Your Name).

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

The 22-year-old, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, also gave one of the evening’s best performances, going from a marching band with an introduction to a pink pink prison scene, where he took off for a good portion of his boxer shorts and worked in a shower.

image source, Getty Images
captionLil Nas X’s set with a prison theme referred to the video for his song Industry Baby

Arranged by rapper Doja Cat, the ceremony marked the 40th anniversary of MTV’s launch in America.

Madonna opened the show and told the story of how she arrived in New York 40 years ago “with nothing but $ 35 and a pair of dancing shoes” before finding an ally in the new music video network.

“We formed a band that changed my life and created a whole new art form. Therefore, there is only one place to be tonight,” said the star, who won 20 MTV “moon-person” statues.

The MTV Awards were established three years later, in 1984, and quickly gained a reputation as a must-see television.

image source, Getty Images
captionMadonna praised MTV’s impact on pop music in the ’80s and’ 90s

Over the years, they have been responsible for more pop cultural moments than any other award ceremony – including Madonna’s debut in 1984, which appeared as a virgin while writhing around in a wedding dress; Eminem appeared with an army of 100 clones; Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress; and of course Kanye West, who hurries onto the stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009.

This year, however, produced few moments that will stay in mind. Many performances felt like diminished retreads of past glories.

It was cute when Twenty -One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph announced during their set that his wife was pregnant – but it was nothing compared to Beyoncé revealing her baby bump during the 2011 show.

Rodrigo smashed a camera (or rather a glass plate in front of a camera) during an exciting performance of Good 4 U. But again, Beyoncé had done it first – in her case with a baseball bat, in 2016.

And while Doja Cat’s aerial performance of Been Like This was visually stunning, it could not be compared to Pink’s death – fighting acrobatics in 2009.

Somehow, this year’s show was less memorable than 2020’s socially distant ceremony.

image source, Getty Images
captionDoja Cat raided the locker room for her performances throughout the ceremony

On the other hand, Doja Cat – the real name Amala Dlamini – judged her hosting duties perfectly and wore a number of more and more absurd outfits while the show continued.

After appearing in chicken thighs and balancing a chair on her head, she ended up receiving the award for best collaboration – for Kiss Me More with SZA – in an outfit that resembled Heimlich, the fat green caterpillar from Pixars A Bug’s Life.

“I look like a worm, it’s dope,” the star said. “I never thought I would be dressed like a worm while receiving an award.”

Here are eight of the other moments:

1. Machine Gun Kelly and Conor McGregor had an argument

image source, Stephen Lovekin / Shutterstock
captionConor McGregor had to be held back on the red carpet

According to TMZ, the fight began when McGregor asked Kelly for a photograph together, but the musician rejected his request.

Footage and photographs show McGregor throws a drink, and a blow was apparently thrown – even though security guards kept the couple apart.

They quickly regained calm, and McGregor played the incident. “Nothing happened to me” he later told Entertainment Tonight. “I only fight real warriors.”

2. Harry Styles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge won a dance award

image source, Helene Pambrun

One of the night’s more unexpected awards went to Harry Styles, who won best choreography for his stylish video Treat People With Kindness.

The Art Deco clip featured an exuberant dance routine between Styles and Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, inspired by the 1943 film Stormy Weather.

The video beat more contemporary (and intricate) videos of people like Ariana Grande and BTS, but speaking to the BBC earlier this year, choreographer Paul Roberts said he had some idea why Treat People With Kindness had struck a chord.

“It all has a nostalgia for a time when you could be in a club and socialize with friends without social distancing,” he said. “I think the chemistry that Harry and Phoebe have together just oozes joy. And for most people, joy is in short supply.”

3. Olivia Rodrigo became soft – even though she did not swear

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Rodrigo, the breakout star of 2021, gave a brave performance of Good 4 U, with the audience singing every word back to her.

It caused a little problem for the censors – because even though Rodrigo avoided the song’s only f -word, the crowd continued. Censors jumped and cut the sound in the middle of the track.

Rodrigo won three prizes. “This has been the most magical year of my life,” the 18-year-old said as he accepted the best song. “I want to dedicate this award to all the other girls who write songs on their bedroom floor.

“There are many people who will try to dim your light, but speaking your mind and listening to your heart are the most powerful things in the world.”

4. Cyndi Lauper and Billie Eilish spoke for women

image source, Getty Images

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

“I won a Moon Person at the very first VMAs in 1984. Things are a little different now,” she said at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“Yes, girls want fun. But we also want funds, equal pay and control over our bodies. You know, fundamental rights.”

Eilish took up the theme when she won the Video For Good Award – which honors artists who spread positive messages in their music.

“I just want to say that we have to protect our young women at all costs. Really,” she said.

“We must also remember that we all have power, and we must remember not to abuse it.”

5. Foo Fighters paid tribute to Charlie Watts

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Foo Fighters were named Global Icons – a new award that was certainly not made up for the occasion – marking their 26 years as one of the world’s greatest rock bands.

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

It was followed by a medley from 1999 – the hit Learn To Fly, last year’s shame shame and a powerful performance by Everlong – which made Rodrigo sing along from the front row.

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

6. Chloe Bailey’s spectacular live debut

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

If she was nervous about performing without her sister and bandmate Halle Bailey (who is busy filming the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Little Mermaid), it did not turn out. She dipped, turned and worked as if her life depended on it – only let the emotions show up when she came off the stage and broke down in tears.

“I want to be Chloe Bailey when I grow up,” wrote American gymnast Simone Biles when the show ended.

7. Justin Bieber got it right

image source, Getty Images

With his first MTV Awards appearance since 2016, Bieber fell from the ceiling to perform Stay from the Top of a Giant Polystyrene Rock. As you do.

He continued to win Artist of the Year and recognized his latest album, Justice, and a number of hit singles over the past 12 months.

He accepted the trophy and was one of the few artists to address the impact of the pandemic.

“We are in unprecedented times with this Covid thing happening,” he said. “It’s a big thing [and] music is such a great opportunity and a great outlet to reach out to people and really bring people together and that’s why we’re here right now.

“We have a lot more in common than we do not have,” he continued. “I truly believe that the best is yet to come.”

8. Busta Rhymes closed the show in style

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Busta Rhymes called back to the golden era of hip-hop on MTV and delivered a quick medley of his biggest hits from the sleek funk of Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, via Tribe Called Quest classic Scenario and MOP’s Ante UP, before ending up with his timeless party anthem Pass The Courvoisier.

The star, who was responsible for some of hip-hop’s most groundbreaking and memorable music videos, dedicated the set to his hometown and told the audience, “Brooklyn, never forget it.”

A perfectly rated show closer, it ended up being one of the night’s most captivating performances.

Full list of winners

  • Video of the Year – Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Artist of the Year – Justin Bieber
  • Song of the Year – Olivia Rodrigo: Driving License
  • Best New Artist – Olivia Rodrigo
  • Group of the year – BTS
  • This year’s MTV Push performance – Olivia Rodrigo: Driving 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 MIA)
  • Best Rock – John Mayer: Last Train Home
  • Best Alternative – 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 K -pop – BTS: Butter
  • Summer song – BTS: Butter
  • Video for good – Billie Eilish: Your Power
  • Best Video Direction – Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Best Video – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, Saint Jhn, WizKid: Brown Skin Girl
  • Best Video Art Direction – Saweetie ft Doja Cat: Best Friend
  • Best Video Visual Effects – Lil Nas X: Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Best Choreography – Harry Styles: Treat people with kindness
  • Best Video Editing – Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic: Leave the Door Open
  • Global Icon Award – Foo Fighters
  • Best Breakthrough Song – Claire Rosinkranz: Backyard Boy
  • Best Comeback Song – Aly & AJ: Potential Breakup Song
  • Best artist x creator collab – Mustard Watermelon by Lizzo x Yayayayummy
  • Best Sound 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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