Women in Music 2019

The Best & Worst Moments of the 2016 VMAs

The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards are in the books. Did they match last year’s absurd amount of WTF moments? We’re not convinced, but we did get another great Kanye speech. We sure got Beyoncé. We got Drake (late) and we got Rihanna. Drake may have gotten swerved by Rihanna. But through it all, we got plenty to talk about. Here are the picks for the show’s best and worst moments.

MTV Video Music Awards 2016: All Our Coverage

Best Moments

Beyoncé Inspires Everyone

Is there anything left to say about Beyoncé? Just when you thought Lemonade had taken you everywhere it could, Bey brings virtually the whole album to life with a show-stopping spectacle at the VMAs. She was a last-minute addition to the night’s performance list, but by the time she was done, jaws were all over the floor. 

Beyonce opened with the first track from her visual album, "Pray You Catch Me," which then led to "Hold Up," "Sorry," "Don't Hurt Yourself," and "Formation." It was a masterfully-produced, expertly executed show that did justice to Lemonade, and then some. Really, it seemed like it was out of another world above the rest of the night’s acts. 

Bey not only walked the red carpet with her daughter Blue Ivy, she brought the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner to the show -- who also make appearances in Lemonade.

Kanye Speaks His Mind, Debuts “Fade” Video

We heard Kanye was scheduled to appear at the VMAs a few days ago, so we knew we were in for a trip. What we got was a Yeezy monologue that wasn’t quite as drop-what-you’re-doing climactic as last year’s “KANYE 2020” moment, but on-point nonetheless. He was real, and he was relatable. 

Kanye brought up his Taylor Swift tiff, but only to emphasize more pressing issues, like violence and systematic racism in America. There was this touching anecdote:

So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year, and one kid came up to me and he said, "Three of my friends died, and I don't know if I'm gonna be the next." And you have to think, like, when you're a senior and it's the last month and you don't feel like doing any more work. If you feel like you're seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like, "What's the point?" Life could start to feel worthless in a way.

He then shouted out his inspirations (“Truman. Ford. Hughes. Disney. Jobs.”) and premiered the video for “Fade,” starring Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert. 

You can read Ye’s whole speech here

And let’s not forget Chance the Rapper’s reaction to Kanye shouting him out:

 

 

Alicia Keys Had a Great Speech, Too

Alicia Keys gave an incredible speech while presenting the moon man for Best Male Video. The show was on Aug. 28, the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” In that spirit, she recited a beautiful poem, beginning with the line, “If war is holy and sex is obscene, then we got it twisted in this lucid dream,” and not ending without Keys belting into song.

The 14 Things You Didn't See on TV at the 2016 VMAs

Rihanna’s Career Comes to Life

Rihanna won the lifetime achievement Video Vanguard award (at only 28!) so it goes without saying she had a big night. The VMAs made sure she was properly honored, and this meant multiple Ri Ri performances, featuring songs from all over her career. She kicked off the show performing classics like “Please Don’t Stop the Music” and “We Found Love” and ended it with newer hits like “Work” after accepting the big prize. 

Drake was late to the show and couldn’t accept his moon man for Best Rap Video on air, but boy did he do Rihanna’s trophy justice. Aubrey gave a fawning, sincere speech to present the Video Vanguard. At the end, it looked like he went in for a big kiss, but Rihanna wasn’t having it.

 

 

Worst Moments 

There was no proper host for this year’s show, and a lot of the on-air time between segments was ceded to comedians Key & Peele, in character as @TheShamester and @LizardSheeple. They were loud, they were noisy, but they were light on laughs. 

Ansel Elgort showed up looking like an uninspired Edward Scissorhands, with the same comedic timing. His intro to Nick Jonas’ “Bacon” performance was essentially, “24-hour diners, amirite?” and it fell especially flat.

 

 

We guess someone had to follow-up Beyoncé’s show-stopping performance, but all we can say is… poor Britney. Why place Britney’s hyped-up bit right after and -- even crazier -- why have Bey perform so early? 

The 9 Best Memes From the 2016 VMAs

And what about the awards for Best Pop, Rock and Electronic Videos? The trio wasn’t announced on air and even after the show, it was unclear who’d won, as the full list was not revealed until almost an hour afterwards. 

Despite all this, let’s listen to Ye when it comes to being mad:

 

 

 

2016 MTV VMAs

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