The 2014 VMAs won’t go down in MTV history as one of the best, but this year’s show did give us a few touching and genuinely surprising moments, from Miley’s plea for homeless youth to Blue Ivy’s flawless hands.
Sunday night also had its fair share of screwups: Production mistakes, fashion mistakes and terribly unfunny routines.
So from Common’s Ferguson tribute to Taylor Swift’s weird red carpet romper, here are the best and worst moments of the 2014 VMAs.
The Best Moments
Common Leads Moment of Silence: Common has been one of the most outspoken, reliably honest voices in music since the ’90s — so it was fitting that the Chicago rapper took the stage to hold a moment of silence for Michael Brown and Ferguson. It was a sobering reminder that while the entertainment industry celebrates, part of America is being torn apart by tensions and prejudice. Kudos to MTV for acknowledging that.
Beyonce Bringing Up Baby: During Beyonce‘s 15-minute Video Vanguard performance, Bluy Ivy — who was sitting on Jay Z’s lap in the crowd — flashed her best “Flawless” hands to her flawless mother’s song. It was adorable, unexpected (even Jay looks surprised) and made our hearts explode.
Miley Makes Plea for Homeless Youth: Instead of using her Video of the Year Award acceptance speech to pat the industry on its back, Miley Cyrus invited a formerly homeless young man to take the mic and speak out for the 1.6 million youth in America. Kudos to Miley for forgoing her speech and instead giving a voice to the disenfranchised.
Iggy Unleashes “Black Widow”: First off, Iggy gets major points for her sparkly spider web leotard — she looked like a Batman supervillain in the best possible way. I-G-G-Y also deserves lauds for rapping “Black Widow” live instead of lip-syncing — this was her big VMA moment, and she totally slayed. Hell, just check out Taylor Swift awkwardly dancing to it — obviously, Azalea was doing something right.
Amber Rose McGowan: Amber Rose wore a revealing stringy dress that reminded us (and most of the Internet) of Rose McGowan’s 1998 VMAs dress. Nice throwback, Amber!
The Worst Moments
The VMAs Production: Directing and editing a live awards show is always hectic, but woof, there were some weird goofs this year. Half of Austin Mahone‘s red carpet interview found his disembodied voice talking over an interior shot of people walking into the Forum. But most of all, after Beyonce’s performance, the VMAs came to an abrupt finish 15 minutes early. Not that an early wrap is awful, but they could have at least ended gracefully. When everyone is tweeting, “Wait, it’s over??” at the end of an awards show, something is wrong.
Taylor’s Red Carpet Jumpsuit: We love Taylor, but her sky blue romper for the red carpet looked like something a kitschy ’60s superhero would wear. Or, as this person, brilliantly illustrated, Jon Heder in Blades of Glory.
— MICHAEL FOLLOW PLS (@neilsmoment) August 25, 2014
Dumb Dumb and Dumberer Cameo: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are both geniuses in their own way, but it seemed like they wrote their VMAs routine about five minutes before going on stage. Sixty seconds of joking about the many uses of a scarf? Please, don’t let this be an indication of what we can expect from the movie.
Nicki Unzipped: While Ariana Grande had plenty of time for a costume change before “Bang Bang,” Nicki Minaj had to go straight from “Anaconda” to her Ariana/Jessie J collabo. Those 40-ish seconds clearly weren’t enough for her to manage a costume change, because Nicki spent the whole performance holding the unzipped front of her dress together. Isn’t that what rehearsals are for?
The Black Eyed Keys?: While announcing the nominees for Best Rock Video, Trey Songz referred to the Black Keys as the Black Eyes. Maybe he mixed the Black Eyed Peas with the Black Keys in his head? Not exactly an “Adele Dazeem” moment, but still kinda WTF.
Katy & Riff Raff in Canadian Tuxedos: Katy Perry and her “This Is How We Do” remix collaborator Riff Raff showed up to the red carpet in all denim outfits as a nod to Justin Timberlake & Britney Spears’ 2001 VMA outfits. While we like the throwback element, the truth is this: It’s always horrifying to encounter two grown adults wearing only denim.