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Katy Perry hasn’t been living under a rock. She was, however, just in outer space.
The host of Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Perry opened the show by seemingly floating down from space dressed like an astronaut. “I’m so happy to be back on planet Earth,” an optimistic Perry explained, assuming the world had fixed all of its problems while she was gone. To her dismay, Perry quickly learned this was not the case. And how are we coping? Fidget spinners, of course.
Perry’s let’s hope for a better future opening set the tone for one of music’s biggest nights, in which Kendrick Lamar was the big winner, taking home six awards including Video of the Year for “Humble,” while Ed Sheeran won Artist of the Year and Khalid won Best New Artist. In the words of Perry, “even in the apocalypse we deserve a great soundtrack.”
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Some of the most powerful moments of the night addressed more than just music. Perry showed her support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Paris Jackson addressed the Charlottesville violence, urging everyone to unite and stand against discrimination and hate. Later in the night, the mother of Heather Heyer (the woman who was tragically killed while protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville) presented the award for Best Fight Against the System — all of the nominees won. Heyer’s mom announced the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation asking people to join “Heather’s fight against hatred.” It should also be noted that MTV invited transgender military troops to the show, a move recognizing the importance of inclusion.
In a makeup-free performance of “Scars To Your Beautiful,” Alessia Cara’s lyrics, “You don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart,” never felt more relevant or needed. Another powerful moment was when singer Kesha took to the stage to make a statement about suicide prevention before introducing Logic’s emotional performance of “1-800-273-8255” (which is the National Suicide Prevention line). “The truth is piercing and the truth is what matters. The truth is none of us are alone,” Kesha said.
Of course, in true VMA-fashion, there were some did-that-really-just-happen moments. Exhibit A? Taylor Swift, who stole the show without actually attending.
Britney Spears might’ve made VMA history with a python, but Taylor Swift just claimed the snake emoji. During last night’s show, Swift premiered the music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” (Kanye West infamously stole Swift’s moment at the 2009 VMAs, so it was only perfectly calculated of her to release the video on this night). From snake references, to “I Heart T.S.” crop tops, to a squad made up of mannequins, Swift finally embraced all the shade that’s been thrown her way.
Another moment that had us talking? When Fifth Harmony (who took home a VMA for Best Pop) took the stage for their performance of “Angel” and “Down.” The girl group seemed to address Camila Cabello’s departure of the band, as their performance started with five figures standing onstage, and ended with just four (you can watch that here). We’ll let you decipher that one…
Swift and Fifth Harmony weren’t the only artists spotlighting their own reinvention. “Change is a thing you can count on,” Miley Cyrus sang during her performance of “Younger Now,” where she ditched the foam finger and opted for pink glittery sunglasses instead.
But if one moment could sum up the entire night, it would be Pink receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. In her speech, Pink recalled how one day her daughter said “I’m the ugliest girl I know” and “I look like a boy with long hair.” Pink, being one of the greatest humans of all time, made a powerpoint presentation for her daughter of androgynous rockstars, and explained that she herself has also gotten similar comments. “Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?” she asked her daughter.
Pink concluded her speech with this: “…we don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people change so that they can see more kinds of beauty.”
Maybe it’s not the apocalypse just yet. It sounds like we might still have a chance.