MTV VMAs 2021 and Justin Bieber

Lil Nas X won video of the year at Sundays MTV VMAs on a night that Justin Bieber triumphantly returned to the stage as a performer and as winner of the artist of the year. “I do not take this for granted,” Lil Nas X said while accepting the night’s final award for the music video for his song, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”

MTV VMAs celebrate 40th anniv

Much of the early show belonged to Bieber, who for his first MTV VMAs performance in six years rappelled from the ceiling of the Barclays Center at the start of the show for an energetic performance of “Stay” with Kid LAROI and then his single “Ghost.”

The VMAs celebrated MTV’s 40th anniversary, mixing moments between early network stars like Cyndi Lauper and show opener Madonna with high-octane performances by newer stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Camila Cabello and Chloe.

Bieber was the leading nominee going into the ceremony at MTV VMAs. He took home the best pop honor for “Peaches,” a song that featured Daniel Caesar and Giveon – who accompanied him onstage.

Sporting baggy clothes and a hoodie, Bieber showed his appreciation for the awards being in-person and thanked his wife, Hailey, for supporting him.

“As we know, there’s so much going on in the world as we speak,” Bieber said during his acceptance speech after winning artist of the year. “I know you guys have probably heard it a lot. We are in unprecedented times with this COVID thing that’s happening right now. It’s a big deal. Music is such an amazing outlet to be able to reach people and bring us all together. That’s why we are here right now. We’re all here together.”

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Madonna proud of being ‘still here’

Opening the show, Madonna told the screaming crowd: “They said we wouldn’t last. But we’re still here.”

Moments after Olivia Rodrigo performed her hit “good 4 u,” she collected the night’s first award for her massive hit song “Drivers License.” She later won best new artist at the MTV VMas..

Jennifer Lopez, who three days earlier made her re-kindled romance with Ben Affleck official on the red carpet of his new film ”“The Last Duel” at the Venice International Film Festival, presented Rodrigo her trophy.

“I feel so grateful that I get to write music, make stuff that I love and call it my job,” said Rodrigo, the first-time nominee. Earlier in the awards, the singer called this the “most magical year of my life.”

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Billie Eilish won the fan-voted video for good for her song “Your Power” at the MTV VMAs.  In her acceptance speech, she said Alicia Keys kissed her on the cheek, spoke about the satisfaction of writing the song and women empowerment.

Eilish and Rosalía won best Latin video for their song “Lo Vas A Olvidar.” BTS won three awards including group of the year, best K-pop and song of summer for “Butter.”

“We need to protect our own women at all costs,” said Eilish, while her brother-producer Finneas applauded his sister from his seat. “We need to remember that we all have power. We have to remember not to abuse it.”

Lauper, who presented Bieber with his first award, advocated for equal rights for women.

Olivia Rodrigo performs “Good 4 U” at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center.)“Girls still want to have fun,” said Lauper, known for classic melody “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “But we also want to have funds, equal pay, control over our bodies, you know, fundamental rights.”

Lil Nas X hit the stage with Jack Harlow, then he performed his controversial song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” Kacey Musgraves and Shawn Mendes also hit the stage.

Olympic gymnastic champion Simone Biles introduced Doja Cat at the MTV VMAs — the show’s host — who went aerial during her performance. With wires holding her up, Doja Cat glided over the crowd and landed on stage as she performed “Been Like This” and “You Right.”

Before the show, Machine Gun Kelly got into a heated argument on the red carpet with UFC fighter Conner McGregor at the MTV VMAs. Video showed McGregor being held back by security from Kelly who later won best alternative for his song “My Ex’s Best Friend,” featuring Blackbear.

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