The Brooklyn Barclays Center was brought to a standstill on Sunday, September 12, 2021, when foremost Music Television MTV opened its stages to celebrate the last year’s stand-out musical performances. The MTV Music Video Awards attracted several A-list celebrities from every facet of the American music industry. Rapper Doja Cat hosted the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, which was the first time the MTV Video Music Awards returned to the stage after a 2020 socially distanced virtual show. The show also marked the network’s 40th anniversary.
Before the award ceremony, much of the conversation was dominated by Justin Bieber, who led this year’s nomination with seven, followed by Megan Thee Stallion, who had six nominations. Billie Eilish, BTS, Drake, Doja Cat, Given, Lil Nas X, and Olivia Rodrigo, a first-time nominee, each had five nominations to their names.
The big winner of the night was rapper Lil Nas X, who went home with the most awards, including the coveted Video of the Year award as well as the awards for Best Direction and Best Visual Effect, all for his single “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” The rapper dedicated his Video of the Year trophy to “the gay agenda.”
Justin Bieber took home the Artist of the Year awards and Best Pop for his song “Peaches,” featuring Daniel Caesar and Given. While a first-time nominee, Olivia Rodrigo won Best New Artist and Song of the Year for “Drivers License.”
The 2021 VMAs was a big night for Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber and Lil Nas X because aside from the numerous award trophies they went home with, they also stole the show with thrilling performances. The night also saw stand-out performances from Alicia Keys, Camila Cabello, Chlöe, Ed Sheehan, Machine Gun Kelly, Olivia Rodrigo, Busta Rhymes, Shawn Mendes, Twenty One Pilots, among several others.
The night was the VMA debut for some stars, and they did so with brand-new songs. For instance, Chlöe (who you may know as half of the sister R&B duo Chlöe x Halle) performed her debut solo single “Have Mercy” onstage for the first time while Musgraves performed “Star-Crossed,” the title track off her recently released studio album.
Other veterans also graced the stage, including Brooklyn legend Busta Rhymes, who performed a medley of some of his biggest hits. At the same time, Alicia Keys honored the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by closing her performance with a piano version of “Empire State of Mind.”
Some other notable moments during the night included Olivia Rodrigo descending onstage from a cloud, Doja Cat dancing midair after being introduced by fellow gravity defier Simone Blues, and the Foo Fighters receiving the VMAs’ first-ever Global Icon Award.
The MTV Video Music Awards celebrating its 40th anniversary on the night continued to prove that the only thing better than an amazing music video is a blow-you-away live musical performance. Like it had done every year, the 2021 edition was not any different. The show opened with a surprise appearance from Pop Icon, Madonna who congratulated MTV on its 40th birthday before Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI delivered a joint performance of “Stay” and “Ghost.”