Gaga and Grande shared three awards for their megahit “Rain on Me” -- song of the year, best collaboration and best cinematography. (Thomas Kloss was in charge of cinematography on that video, but MTV gives artists credit for technical awards on their videos.)
Gaga’s five wins for the night bring her career total to 18 VMAs, a total topped only by Beyoncé, with 24, and Madonna, with 20.
In addition to the three awards she shared with Gaga, Grande won best music video from home—for “Stuck With U,” her collab with Justin Bieber.
BTS won three awards for “On,” which took best pop (surprisingly beating “Rain on Me,” among others), best K-pop and best choreography (for Son Sung Deuk, Lee Ga Hun and Lee Byung Eun). The group also won best group. These were the group’s second consecutive wins for best K-pop and best group.
Taylor Swift took best direction for the feminist-themed “The Man” (which she personally directed). Swift is just the third artist to win best direction without a co-director. She follows Beck, who won for “The New Pollution” (1997) and Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys, who won for the trio’s “Make Some Noise” (2011). In addition, Swift is just the second woman (artist or not) to win best direction without a co-director. She follows Melina Matsoukas, who won for directing Beyoncé’s “Formation” (2016).
Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” won best hip-hop. It’s the third year in a row a female artist has won in that category. Cardi B won last year. Nicki Minaj won two years ago.
Doja Cat won push best new artist, presented by Chime Banking. The Los Angeles singer and rapper is the third female artist in a row to win the new artist award. Billie Eilish (another L.A. native) won last year. Cardi B won in 2018.
Coldplay took best rock for “Orphans.” It’s the group’s second win in that category, following a win for “Paradise” eight years ago.
Machine Gun Kelly won in the reinstated alternative category with “Bloody Valentine.” The VMAs presented this award (initially called best post-modern video) every year from 1989-98, but then retired it until this year.
H.E.R. won in the socially-minded video for good category with “I Can’t Breathe,” which reflects on the fight for Black equality. Two recent winners in this category were on the same broad theme—Logic’s “Black Superman” (featuring Damian Lemar Hudson) and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.”
Maluma’s "Qué Pena" (featuring J Balvin) took best Latin. This is the third year in a row that J Balvin has won in that category. He won in 2018 with “Mi Gente,” a collab with Willy William (2018), and in 2019 with “Con altura,” a collab with Rosalía (featuring El Guincho, 2019).
Miley Cyrus’ “Mother’s Daughter” won two technical awards—best art direction (Christian Stone) and best editing (Alexandre Moors, Nuno Xico).
Another sign of K-Pop’s impact, beyond BTS' strong showing: Blackpink took song of the summer for “How You Like That.” The song, which peaked at No. 33 on the Hot 100, beat a field that included seven No. 1 hits, among them “Rain on Me,” “Blinding Lights” and “Savage.” This isn’t the first time a song that didn’t even make the top 10 has taken the VMA Award for song of the summer. 5 Seconds of Summer’s “She’s Kinda Hot” (No. 22) won the 2015 award. Fifth Harmony’s “All in My Head (Flex)” (featuring Fetty Wap, No. 24) won the following year. This fan-voted award recognizes the act with the most devoted fan base, not necessarily the biggest hit.