As some of the music industry's finest members tottered down the red carpet and descended on LA's Forum over the weekend, Katy Perry's 2017's MTV Video Music Awards blasted us off to outer space with one of the most woke award ceremonies in history. Casting aside the "Swish Swish" singer's disastrous crash landing as host and the fact that Beyoncé wasn't even there, it was still a spectacular evening filled with breathtaking performances, heartfelt social commentaries and impassioned political statements.
So, before you run off to scour the vast depths of YouTube for all the best clips, brush up your knowledge on some of the most unforgettable highlights of the night below:
8. Kendrick Lamar Literally Set The Stage On Fire
Throughout the night, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar picked up six wins for his new album titled Humble, confirming that his audacious musical influence has once and for all been cemented into the industry's DNA. Yet, it was his earth-shattering opening set that really got people talking.
Performing a flawless medley of hits from his DAMN album intertwined with piercing social commentary, he came out in full force to a backdrop of a wall of flames, with dancers setting themselves on fire in front of the entire Forum. Ultimately, if anyone was the perfect example of "lit," it's Kung Fu Kenny's successful attempt to burn the house down.
7. P!nk Received The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award
Similarly, P!nk injected a delicious burst of nostalgia into our lives by belting out classic hits like "Get This Party Started," "Don't Let Me Get Me," "Raise This Glass" and "So What" while scooting around on a lawnmower/tractor while surrounded by #KimKardashian (circa nude selfie era) lookalikes. And when she was done performing her medley of top tunes, she scooped up the well-deserved Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award with some touching words about her 6-year-old daughter.
The star recalled how she was recently driving Willow to school when the little girl said she thought she looked like an ugly boy. As soon as she got home, P!nk said that she decided to make a PowerPoint presentation of androgynous rock stars and artists "that live their truth" to show her what it really means to be beautiful and strong. Watch the powerful speech in defense of much-needed acceptance and non-binary expression in its entirety below:
6. DJ Khaled's Precious, Gucci-Clad Son Made An Appearance
Considering DJ Khaled is seldom seen without his baby boy Asahd — you'll also probably recognize him from the cover of his latest album Grateful — it was no surprise that his adorable kid (clad in a Gucci suit, of course!) joined him on stage. Taking the podium, the proud papa confirmed everything we basically knew already, saying:
"Asahd is an icon. Asahd is a mogul. Asahd has a platinum album!"
Meanwhile, #KatyPerry was wearing a plastic baby strapped to her own chest while shooting out fake breast milk for some reason, but we'll just try to forget that wincingly awkward moment ever happened.
5. Taylor Slithered In With The 'Look What You Made Me Do' Music Video
Despite the fact Taylor's snakey self didn't make an actual appearance at the VMAs, her self-penned obituary did. Swiftly shoving Katy Perry's loaded "Swish Swish" backlash under the carpet, her long-awaited music video for "Look What Made Me Do" confirmed once and for all that the old T-Swift was dead, only to be replaced by the slithering serpent that we all secretly knew she always was.
Of all the shade that's ever been thrown on the VMAs stage, #TaylorSwift well and truly showed us how it's really done by poking fun at herself in the most scathing way possible:
4. Jared Leto Led A Beautiful Tribute To Chester Bennington
Actor #JaredLeto graced us with his presence at this year's VMAs as his band Thirty Seconds to Mars has a new single out ("Walk on Water"), but it was his heartfelt words about the Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington that really struck a chord. Speaking to the audience, he explained his close connection to the late artist, saying:
"Chester was my friend, as he to so many, and witnessing his life taught me important things, especially about working relentlessly, perusing dreams, and being kind and caring while doing it. When I think about Chester, I see his face, which was always smiling. I think about his heart, which he wore on his sleeve. I think about how kindly he treated [Thirty Seconds to Mars]. I think about his wife and how incredibly he treated his six children."
Then, addressing those who also struggle with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts like his friends Bennington and Chris Cornell, he urged the crowd to:
"Reach out, share your thoughts, do not give up. There is always a way forward. The biggest breakthroughs in life lie just beyond the darkest days."
3. Logic Shared The Stage With Suicide Survivors For '1-800-273-8255'
Following the release of his album Everybody, it appears that Logic has also been using his mainstream fame to spread messages of positivity whenever he can. And quite frankly, we can't get enough of it.
Taking to the VMAs stage over the weekend, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II (yes, that's his real name) gave it his all during a performance of "1-800-273-8255," a single title that also doubles up as the National Suicide Prevention Helpline. Joined by a number of suicide survivors, he put forward a message reading, "You are not alone."
He ended the speech with the following, receiving a wild standing ovation for his words:
"From racism, discrimination, sexism, domestic violence, sexual assault, and so much more; I don't give a damn if you are black, white, or any color in between. I don’t care if you’re Christian, you’re Muslim, you’re gay, you’re straight, I am here to fight for your equality because I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally and that is why we must fight. We must fight for the equality of every man, woman, and child regardless of race, religion, color, creed, and sexual orientation."
2. Lorde Threw Some Erratic Shapes But We Loved It Anyway
In a more baffling portion in the evening, Lorde came out and performed a wordless interpretive dance routine to "Homemade Dynamite" that made her look like she was having a mild seizure. And quite frankly, it's no surprise considering the "Melodrama" artist was suffering from a serious bout of flu and had been linked up to an IV moments before stepping out on stage. She had even tweeted:
So ultimately, whatever you might think about her wacky appearance, the poor girl was totally deserving of her tremendous round of applause merely for sticking to her VMAs commitments despite her sickness. Let's just hope someone gave her a couple of aspirins and a cup of hot lemon tea as soon as she waddled off stage.
1. Robert W. Lee IV Condemned Racism And White Supremacy
As the ceremony began to draw to a close, the VMAs hit a more poignant note as Robert W. Lee IV — the great-great-great-great nephew of Civil War General Lee — ascended the podium to echo a more political turn. Reinforcing the essential need to reject all forms of racism and white supremacy prevalent in modern day society, the pastor said:
"As a pastor it is my duty to speak out against racism, America's original sin. Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God's call to confront racism and white supremacy head on."
Lee also encouraged all of us to "find inspiration" from the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent Women's March, before welcoming Susan Bro — the mother of Heather Heyer who was tragically murdered in Charlottesville by a white supremacist earlier this month — to speak. Announcing the Best Fight Against the System award and a new foundation in her beloved daughter's name, she said:
"Only 15 days ago, my daughter was killed as she protested racism. I miss her, but I know she's here tonight. I want people to know that Heather never marched alone. [...] She was always joined by people of every race and every background in this country.
The category's nominees for Best Fight Against the System — comprising of John Legend ("Surefire"), Alessia Cara ("Scars to Your Beautiful"), Logic and Damian Lemar Hudson ("Black SpiderMan"), Shailene Woodley and Taboo ("Stand Up/Stand N Rock"), Big Sean ("Light") and Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Immigrants") — were all presented with the award.
What was your favorite VMAs 2017 moment?