The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards (which aired Sunday evening) marked the first major award show during the global pandemic that featured various in-person aspects. People are forced to get creative right now, and the 2020 VMA artists did indeed deliver some unique performances despite the circumstances. Here are some of the night’s most noteworthy moments.
The Weeknd kicked off the VMAs with a performance of his number one hit “Blinding Lights” from his most recent album After Hours. During his performance, he embraced the same aesthetic that he rocked in the official music video for the song: black eyes, a broken nose and a bloody face. But it’s all makeup. At first, you don’t quite know where he is performing from, but then you find out that he is singing from Hudson Yards’ The Edge, a platform that juts out from a Manhattan skyscraper. The view of New York City that surrounds him is breathtaking with all of its “blinding lights.” To top it all off, the act ends with a brief but elaborate blast of fireworks.
Charlotte rapper DaBaby performed a medley of “PEEP HOLE,” “BLIND” and “ROCKSTAR” from BLAME IT ON BABY. Dressed in yellow and purple (and a Lakers hat) in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, DaBaby was accompanied by the Jabbawockeez, a dance crew who are known for their signature white masks and gloves. DaBaby, unafraid to be outspoken in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, made a powerful statement against police brutality in his performance.
Miley Cyrus, who has performed at several VMAs in years past, presented her new single “Midnight Sky,” which is presumably about her divorce from Liam Hemsworth. While there was nothing particularly memorable at the beginning of her performance, Cyrus suddenly began swinging on a giant disco ball, a nod to her legendary “Wrecking Ball” music video. The sparkling disco ball was definitely a glow up from the wrecking ball.
BTS made their VMA debut with a performance of their pop hit “Dynamite.” The BTS boys, dressed in business-chic outfits, executed their choreography with ease. Most performances at the 2020 VMAs featured a virtual background of New York City, and BTS’ did too, with footage of “classic” New York Spots such as the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. If there were actual fans in the audience, who knows how loud the crowd would have been for this one. Probably very loud—it’s K-pop, after all.
Black Eyed Peas are still performing in 2020. The hip-hop group closed out the night with a performance of “VIDA LOCA” from their album TRANSLATION with some help from rapper Tyga, who is featured on the song, along with Nicky Jam. They also performed “I Gotta Feeling,” their 2009 hit that never fails to bring in good energy. “I wanna send love to the first responders and the freedom fighters,” frontman Will.I.Am shouted out before leaving the stage. “Wakanda forever. Black Lives Matter,” he added, alluding to the recent death of Chadwick Boseman.
Other 2020 VMA performance highlights include Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande with “Rain On Me,” Doja Cat with “Say So,” Maluma with “Hawái” and host Keke Palmer with “Snack.”