The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the 2023 VMAs

The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the 2023 VMAs

Portrait of Justin Curto

By Justin Curto, who covers music, TELEVISION, and star for Vulture

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for MTV

The MTV Video Music Awards are so associated with turmoil at this point that it kind of feels like a self-fulfilling prediction. What other awards program would bring Nicki Minaj back for a 2nd year to do the bare minimum of hosting? But the program likewise understands where it standsout, and that’s wide-screen, high-definition phenomenon. Yes, tonight had mayhem, from vocalists missingouton their keepsinmind to a hip-hop 50 homage missingouton, well, a lot. But it likewise provided more than its share of showstopping minutes, thanks to Doja Cat, some slick K-pop bands, and newly-minted Video Vanguard winner Shakira.(Additional props to the brave cameraperson who turned to Selena Gomez at simply the right time.) Here are the highs, lows, and whoas of the 2023 VMAs.

HIGH: The preshow birthday events.
Saweetie got a cake for her tune “Birthday” (even though her birthday was in July). It was Kelsea Ballerini’s real birthday, and it’s her partner Chase Stokes’s birthday in a coupleof days. And in case you insomeway sanctuary’t heard, this year is hip-hop’s 50th birthday. The pink carpet required some balloons.

WHOA: Lil Wayne triggers an outcry.
To obtain from Weezy’s protégé, the VMAs went from no to 100 genuine fast. A extremely energetic Lil Wayne kicked off the reveal, bounding right into a assortment of his Carter V track “Uproar” and brand-new track “Kat Food.” The crowd went from shouting “Weezy!” to dancing on their feet in no time. An outcry, all .

WHOA: Don’t concern about Olivia Rodrigo — that was expected to occur.
Sure, yeah, it’s the VMAs, and music-video tribute is quite requirement fare. But Olivia Rodrigo getting phony–rushed off the phase throughout her “vampire” efficiency was still a little complicated — specifically because it looked like she might haveactually gotten struck by a pyrotechnic and the cam was a little too unsteady. Luckily, she got the crowd back with a sing-along of her brand-new Guts anthem, “get him back!”

LOW: This is our *NSYNC reunion?
Rumors haveactually been swirling about an *NSYNC tune soundtracking the brand-new Trolls film, and earlier today, Billboard verified the group would reunite for the veryfirst time in a years for a surprise look at the VMAs. To carryout the tune, best?, you believed. Nope. The group simply presented the Best Pop classification, with nary a joke in sight, and they couldn’t even speak at the right time. (A Trolls Band Together trailer came throughout the next business break, however due to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, the group couldn’t talk about the movie throughout their look.) At least Lance Bass got to offer Taylor Swift some relationship bracelets — and Swift appeared similarly honored to get an award from her youth idols.

LOW: Demi and Olivia puton’t have the variety.
Ah, the hazards of live vocals. Rodrigo hadahardtime to reach the heights of “vampire” on the VMAs phase, and she couldn’t even conceal behind her “fame fucker” lyric on prime-time tv. Just a coupleof minutes lateron, Demi Lovato rocked out to a intense collection of some of her greatest strikes, however similarly couldn’t rather belt the huge notes.

WHOA: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion provide another awards-show efficiency for the books.
And yes, there were bongos.

HIGH: Doja Cat has our attention.
Doja Cat hasactually endedupbeing the queen of double takes on her Scarlet rollout, and she made us do another one when she started her VMAs efficiency in the audience, in a preppy attire offering Joan Cusack in School of Rock. But as she snaked her method through the audience, tracked by blood-soaked dancers, Doja put on the most fascinating efficiency of the night. The entire thing climaxed with Doja spitting “Demons” while being circledaround by dancers — still the center of attention.

HIGH: Shakira, Shakira.
What else is there to state? The multitalented icon did it all throughout her Video Vanguard medley: danced, sang (in several languages), played guitar, crowd surfed, belly-danced, and played to the electroniccamera the entire time like the professional she was. The award might be for videos, however Shakira’s efficiency was a ten-minute pointer that she standsout even more — insomeway! — on phase.

WHOA: Nicki Minaj is allover and noplace.
She’s hosting. (Sorry, emceeing.) She’s singing. She’s rapping. She’s … not on phase for over an hour, returning to accept an award and offer another to Taylor Swift? When Nicki Minaj is your host, you’re on her schedule.

HIGH: Selena Gomez wins Best Reaction.
And Taylor Swift is a runner-up for, well, the entire night.

HIGH: Keyshia Cole is a Global Icon.
Diddy put on a terrific hit parade for his Global Icon Award assortment, blending brand-new tunes with classics like “I’ll Be Missing You” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” But Keyshia Cole took the program when she signedupwith him ons

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