MTV: More than just memorable music

Tana Mongeau.
Tana Mongeau.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, EPA-EFE, YOUTUBE, REUTERS
H.E.R.
H.E.R.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, EPA-EFE, YOUTUBE, REUTERS
John Travolta (left) and Jade Jolie (right).
John Travolta (left) and Jade Jolie (right).PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, EPA-EFE, YOUTUBE, REUTERS
Miley Cyrus
Miley CyrusPHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, EPA-EFE, YOUTUBE, REUTERS
Cardi B.
Cardi B.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, EPA-EFE, YOUTUBE, REUTERS

It was a night for celebrating the best in music. Here are five takeaways from MTV's Video Music Awards held on Monday night in Newark, New Jersey

1 WHO WANTS TO MAKE HISS-TORY?

On the red carpet, two artists - Tana Mongeau and H.E.R. - took a bigger bite at fame, with snakes draped around their shoulders.

YouTube star Mongeau even made sure her reptile companion felt at home by wearing a snake-skin mini-dress.

H.E.R. thoughtfully wore dark-patterned clothing to allow her snake to take "cover" if it felt too threatened by all the camera flashes at the event.

2 YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT?

John Travolta scored with the hit You're The One That I Want back in 2002. But he had trouble picking the right Taylor Swift to give the Best Video award to.

As the singer and her entourage took to the stage, Travolta was ready to hand over the trophy to "Swift ", who turned out to be drag queen and RuPaul's Drag Race alumna Jade Jolie, who often impersonates Swift in her act.

He recovered at the last minute when he discovered his mistake and laughed it off with Jolie.

And the name of the song Swift won the award for? You Need To Calm Down.

  • Winners

  • Video of the Year: You Need To Calm Down (Taylor Swift)

    Song of the Year: Old Town Road (Remix) (Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)

    Best Pop: Sucker (Jonas Brothers)

    Best Hip-hop: Money (Cardi B)

    Best K-pop: Boy With Luv (BTS featuring Halsey)

    Best Group: BTS Artist of the Year: Ariana Grande

    Best New Artist: Billie Eilish

Maybe Travolta will take heed of the advice the next time he presents a prize and not make another spur-of-the-moment gaffe.

3 VMA PAYS FOR INITIAL BTS SNUB?

The K-pop boy band are officially taking a break, their first in six years, which conveniently provided the explanation for their no-show at the awards on Monday.

The Video Music Awards (VMA) organisers had initially nominated them in a new category called Best K-pop, sparking talk among fans that this was done to insulate Western acts from the juggernaut.

It was only a week before the awards ceremony that another category - Best Group - was added, where the nominees included Backstreet Boys, 5 Seconds of Summer, Jonas Brothers and K-pop acts BTS and Blackpink.

By then, it was too late for BTS' agency to do a U-turn and get the members - who had started their break - to attend the event.

On Monday, BTS won Best Group, with the organisers missing out on a chance to boost the show's ratings with the group's big army of fans not tuning in, as their idols gave the event a miss.

4 MILEY CYRUS BARES HER HEART

The singer has said she did not cheat on Liam Hemsworth, who is seeking a divorce.

On Monday, she performed her new break-up ballad Slide Away for the first time, with the lyrics lamenting that "once upon a time, it was paradise".

But she is hoping to rise above the emotional storm, with a new tattoo on her arm which reads "my head was feeling scared, but my heart was feeling free".

Kaitlynn Carter, a blogger who was photographed kissing Cyrus recently, was seen backstage to lend support to the singer during her performance.

5 WHAT A GIRL LIKES

In her 2016 hit What A Girl Likes, rapper Cardi B says she would rather bank on money, not men.

She also wants a million-dollar body. Which is why when she went up on stage to accept the Best Hip-hop award, she said the honour should go to her team.

"Since this is the Video Music Awards and everything, I really want to thank my music video team - first Jora Frantzis - that's the director. She gotta hear outta my mouth, 'I look ugly. Edit my stomach, edit my butt. Smooth my cellulite out,'" Cardi B confessed on stage.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline 'MTV: More than just memorable music'. Print Edition | Subscribe