The MTV VMAs brought some of the biggest names in music to the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday. From exciting performances to powerful speeches, this year’s VMAs were a celebration of music video excellence.
With Nicki Minaj emceeing the show for a second time in a row, and a slew of A-list performers, the night had no shortage of memorable moments.
As usual, the slew of musical artists delivering TV debuts of their latest hits provided most of the night’s biggest highlights, alongside a few artists making their big returns to the VMAs stage for the first time in years.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest performances and most memorable moments from Sunday’s big show.
Olivia Rodrigo Brings Some Chaos
The songstress embraced controlled chaos in her big VMAs set, delivering a performance of “Vampire” that truly left an impression. In apt reference to the music video for her hit single, everything began to crumble in what appeared, at first, to be some serious technical mishaps. Sparks started flying behind her and set pieces started falling down, leaving the audience stunned.
Rodrigo was quickly escorted off the stage as the crowd murmured about what was going on. The answer was soon revealed when dancers wearing pink appeared on stage and the opening notes to Rodrigo’s new song, “Get Him Back!” started playing. Rodrigo expertly worked the stage as she continued performing the new focus single off of her sophomore album, Guts.
NSYNC Reunite, Fan Out Over Taylor Swift
On Tuesday, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone reunited to present the Best Pop Video — and Swift happened to be the rightful recipient of the honor. But it seemed that the songstresses was arguably more excited to get the share the stage with NSYNC than she was about the actual award itself.
“I’m not doing well pivoting from this to this,” Swift said of her award, telling the group. “I have your dolls! You’re pop personified, so to receive this from your golden pop hands is really too much”
And the singer spoke for *NSYNC fans everywhere when she speculated what the reunion might mean for the group’s future. “They’re gonna do something and I need to know what it is!” The fact that the group also came prepared to give Swift some friendship bracelets really pushed things into delightfully surreal territory.
Demi Lovato Slays Her Hits
Lovato made her triumphant return to the MTV VMAs stage for the first time in 6 years, and delivered an epic medley of some of her biggest hits. Lovato rocked out to a variety of throwbacks including “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Cool For The Summer” and “Heart Attack,” and the audience — including Taylor Swift — couldn’t get enough of the show-stopping performance.
Doja Cat Has Bloody Good Time
Doja Cat took the stage on Tuesday rocking a conservative grey suit ensemble — while surrounded by a cadre of blood-drenched backup dancers — to deliver a performance of “Attention,” “Paint the Town Red,” and “Demons.” As she began her set, Doja Cat rocked a pair of glasses and wore her hair tied back, but slowly shed her constrictive clothes and let down her hair as the performance went on.
Shakira Shows Why She’s a Legend
The Colombian songstress made history as the first South American recipient of the MTV VMAs’ Video Vanguard Award, and commemorated the occasion by taking to the stage for the first time in 17 years to perform a energetic medley of her biggest hits including “She Wolf,” “Objection,” and “Whenever, Wherever.”
Shakira wowed the crowd by singing, dancing and crowd-surfing in multiple outfits, in on-stage rain, and, at one point, with a pair of knives! She was even joined onstage by some fans who joined in singing her “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53.
Nicki Teases New Music
Pink Friday 2 is coming, and Minaj made sure to whet fans’ appetites with a taste of her new single, “Last Time I Saw You.” Rocking a striking, sheer black bodysuit, Minaj owned the stage as she delivered the high-energy set.
The Stray Kids Are All Class
After becoming first-time VMA winners earlier in the evening — a win the K-Pop group could hardly believe when it was announced — the artists took the stage and showed the crowd exactly why they deserved it!
The group, who won Best K-pop Video for their hit “S-Class,” took the stage to perform the track in an intense, tightly-choreographed performance. In front of a dynamic, futuristic backdrop, Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin, and I.N. sang and rapped in both Korean and English, and thrilled the crowd with their impressive dance movies and coordinated fashions.
Diddy Is a Global Icon
Before the 53-year-old music mogul and producer walked down memory in his Global Icon Award acceptance speech, the legendary Mary J. Blige presented his Global Icon performance and paid tribute to him — from calling him a “big brother” to reminding the world that his Bad Boy Records has sold more than 500 million albums worldwide. Once onstage, Diddy busted out his trademark Diddy-bop and belted out his 1997 hit “I’ll Be Missing You.” It was Diddy’s first performance at the VMAs since 2005.
His son, King Combs, joined him onstage for a few tracks, including “It’s All About the Benjamins, “I Need a Girl” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.” Yung Miami and Keyshia Cole also joined Diddy onstage.
There was a sweet moment when Diddy’s daughter, Chance Combs, joined Blige to present Diddy with the Global Icon Award. Diddy’s other children — Jessie James, Chance Combs, D’Lila and Justin Dior Combs — were also at the event, as was Diddy’s beloved mother, Janice.
The 2023 MTV Video Music Awards aired live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 12 on MTV. Follow along at ETonline.com for full coverage from this year’s VMAs, including the complete list of the night’s big winners.