The 2021 VMAs: A spectacular night to remember

Highlights and shady moments during one of pop culture’s biggest nights

The 2021 VMAs: A spectacular night to remember

For the first time since the pandemic began, the MTV Video Music Awards took place in-person Sept. 12 and included a brawl on the red carpet, some unexpected shade and eye-popping outfits. Here are some of the highlights:

The VMAs went off without a hitch this year, with Queen of Pop, Madonna, opening the show. In typical VMA fashion, she stepped up in a black trenchcoat over a leather bodysuit with a matching hat. She then triumphantly declared, “And they said we wouldn’t last. But we’re still here, motherf---ers. Happy 40th, MTV! Welcome to the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards.”

Seeing Madonna, who became a star with her 1984 “Like a Virgin” performance at the very first VMAs, was one of the highlights of the night. This was a surprise appearance, and the internet went particularly wild after seeing her cheeky costume when she finished her speech and walked offstage. 

Anyone could assume that this year’s VMAs would be anything but normal with musician and rapper Doja Cat doing double duty as the host and as a performer.

Doja Cat’s many eclectic outfits were one of the best parts of the VMAs. With six different outfits in total, Doja Cat most iconically wore chicken feet, a chair and a worm outfit during the ceremony. Her bold and humorous personality was a highlight throughout the night, and having her as host was the right move for the VMAs.

While being interviewed on the red carpet before the show, rapper and singer Lil Nas X was brutally thrown under the bus by VMAs pre-show host Jamila Mustafa. Wearing a light purple Atelier Versace pantsuit-gown, he was clearly proud of his outfit. He asked Mustafa, “Do I look good?” She replied, “Listen, I’m not going to say I’m hating on the ‘fit, but, let’s move on.” This incident went viral across the internet, with many viewers defending Lil Nas X against the shade.

UFC fighter Conor McGregor and singer Machine Gun Kelly got into a scuffle on the red carpet. It started with McGregor supposedly throwing a drink at MGK which then escalated into security restraining him for attempting to throw a punch. The motive for this altercation is still unclear, but rumors were widely circulating on the internet. 

Another highlight of the night was VMA icon and singer Cyndi Lauper’s speech about feminism and equal rights for women. She said, “Yeah, girls still wanna have fun, but we also wanna have funds. Equal pay. Control over our bodies. You know, fundamental rights!” Her short speech was met with raucous applause by the crowd.

Singer Chloë’s debut VMA performance and first ever solo performance was met with critical acclaim. Bailey sang her lead solo single “Have Mercy” from her upcoming debut album. Eagle-eyed viewers also caught her crying at the end of the performance, clearly caught up in the emotions of the night and the love from the audience.

All in all, the 2021 VMAs were chock full of awe-inspiring performances, entertaining celebrity moments and unforgettable incidents. At the end of the night, Lil Nas X, singer Olivia Rodrigo, and boy band BTS took home the most Moon Person awards. Lil Nas X won the award for video of the year, Olivia Rodrigo won song of the year, and BTS won best K-Pop video. Beyoncé extended her reign as the most awarded artist in VMAs history, winning another award this year for best cinematography, bringing her total VMA awards to 29. 

Between Doja Cat’s outfits, Madonna’s surprise appearance and the almost-brawl between Conor McGregor and MGK, this year proved just as memorable as when the VMAs marked their spot in music and pop history with its first show 37 years ago. 

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