The 2016 Video Music Awards came screaming into our collective consciousness last night, a three-hour yell-y jigsaw featuring strange interludes from a rotating cast of aggressively eager hosts including DJ Khaled, Key and Peele and Jay Pharoah
And though the evening never really gelled into coherence, there were bright spots, particularly performances from Beyonce and Rihanna.
Beyonce stole the show last night before the Awards even began, walking the red carpet like a futuristic fairy from a nearby glittering galaxy in a dress by designer Francesco Scognamigli. She was joined on the red carpet by her 4-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, who was a vision of tiny resplendence in a gold and tulle Mischka Aoki dress.
Beyonce, one of the few celebrities to bring politics to an evening otherwise curiously void of comments about the election and issues of police brutality and racial violence, was joined on the red carpet by Sybrina Fulton, Gwen Carr, Lezley McSpadden and Wanda Johnson -- the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant III.
The "Mothers of the Movement" were also joined by some of the young stars of
Lemonade, including Quvenzhané Wallis, Ava Clark, and Chloe and Halle Bailey.
In her acceptance speech, Rihanna dedicated her success to the community that's particularly held her up -- "it's not my own, " she said. "It's my family's, my fans, women, black women."
Given four minutes of air time to do what he pleased, Kanye West took to the stage to, once again, acknowledge his feud with Taylor Swift, list off the role models who have shaped his career -- including Henry Hughes and Walt Disney-- and address the violence in his hometown of Chicago.
If you feel like you're seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like what's the point? You know like, life could be like, start to feel worthless in a way. I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, rich people, you know (AKA WHITE!) and they tell me, "Don't compare yourself to Steve Jobs, don't compare yourself to Walt Disney."
My friend Sekaya told me it's three keys to keeping people impoverished; taking away their esteem, taking away their resources, and taking away their role models. My role models are artists, merchants. It's less than 10 I can name in history.Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West
He thanked the people in the room who have influenced him, as well as the black male artists currently shaping pop culture. "I'm standing in front of my idol, Puff Daddy," he said. "I'm standing in front of my wife, Kim Kardashian West." He then shouted out Chance the Rapper, 2 Chainz, and Jaden Smith. "We are undeniably the influence," he said. "The thought leaders."
"I see you, Amber," West called from the stage to Rose, who was sitting in the audience, before acknowledging Kardashian West. "My wife is a G, not a lot of people's wives would let them say that."
He then debuted the video for penultimate
The Life of Pablo track "Fade." The video, an otherwise fairly straight-forward affair featuring the effervescent Teyana Taylor performing
Flashdance-like moves in an empty gym, that ends on a gloriously bizarre note, with Taylor, transformed into a cat, flanking partner Iman Shumpert.
A flock of sheep surrounds the couple. Bye, @LizardSheeple.
The video was directed by Kanye and Eli Linnetz, who also directed
the "Famous" video, and is exclusive to Tidal.
Returning to the VMAs stage for the first time in nine years, Spears performed a short and sweet rendition of her newest single, "Make Me," and "Me Myself and I" with G-Eazy.