BTS, Lady Gaga win big at MTV Video Music Awards

(Top) BTS, who won four awards, performed from South Korea. (Above) Lady Gaga accepting the TriCon Award, an inaugural award at the VMA, for being an icon in multiple fields - music, acting, fashion and activism. She won four awards in total.
BTS, who won four awards, performed from South Korea.PHOTO: MTV
(Top) BTS, who won four awards, performed from South Korea. (Above) Lady Gaga accepting the TriCon Award, an inaugural award at the VMA, for being an icon in multiple fields - music, acting, fashion and activism. She won four awards in total.
Lady Gaga accepting the TriCon Award, an inaugural award at the VMA, for being an icon in multiple fields - music, acting, fashion and activism. She won four awards in total.PHOTO: MTV

NEW YORK • MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA) on Sunday was an unorthodox show that paid socially distanced homage to New York City, as themes of voting and racial justice punctuated the night.

The 2020 VMA - a show known more for ostentatious performances, made-for-Twitter moments and wild costumes than the actual awards - was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, with performances held at outdoor spaces and many celebrities accepting prizes via video.

Host Keke Palmer, known for her role in last year's film Hustlers, opened the show with an emotional cold-open paying tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer last Friday.

Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd then launched into a performance of the hit Blinding Lights atop a viewing deck protruding from a Manhattan skyscraper.

"It's really hard for me to celebrate right now," he said in accepting his moon man trophy for Best R&B. "I'm just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor," he continued, referring to the recent black victims of police violence. It was one of many nods to the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging a year that has seen months of anti-racism protests.

Several stars encouraged voting during the show where the Joe Biden campaign bought a number of advertisements in a bid to reach youth in his campaign against United States President Donald Trump. Lady Gaga took home trophies including Artist Of The Year and Song Of The Year for Rain On Me, her collaboration with Ariana Grande.

The pair staged a futuristic performance atop the Empire State Building, both masked, with Gaga in a corseted get-up, one of her many eccentric costumes of the night.

"This has not been an easy year for a lot of people, but what I see in the world is a massive triumph of courage," she said. "Stay safe. Speak your mind and, I might sound like a broken record, but wear a mask. It's a sign of respect."

This year's edition included new awards recognising the tumultuous year in music, with the pandemic halting tours and festivals worldwide in a devastating blow to the industry.

Grande and fellow pop star Justin Bieber won Best Music Video From Home for Stuck With You, while Latin boy band CNCO won Best Quarantine Performance for Unplugged At Home.

And while American pop regulars including Gaga, Grande and Taylor Swift all took home trophies, they were upset in their genre's primary category by Korean megastars BTS, which won for Best Pop for On.

The boy band, who also won Best K-Pop, Best Group and Best Choreography, held a green-screen performance that placed them in front of the Brooklyn Bridge in a shot recalling the classic film Once Upon A Time In America (1984) that starred Robert DeNiro.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2020, with the headline 'BTS, Lady Gaga win big at MTV Video Music Awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe