The 2021 VMAs kicked off Sunday (Sept. 12) evening in New York City with a cold open from the Queen of Pop, Madonna.
In a pre-taped video, Madonna paid homage to her culture-shifting history with the network and its signature awards show in particular. "Around 40 years ago I came to New York City with nothing but $35 and a pair of dance shoes," Madonna said. "Forty years ago, another underdog arrived in New York City hoping to create something revolutionary. An all-music channel premiered in the middle of the night and called itself MTV. We found each other and formed a bond that changed my life, changed music and created a whole new art form. That's why there's only one place to be tonight."