MTV Video Music Awards 2023 Recap

“Music’s Most Iconic Night” was pretty average.
The Music Television Channel held this year’s annual Video Music Awards in New Jersey on Sept. 12, reporting the highest-rated show in three years.

Nicki Minaj was made the VMAs’ host for the second year in a row, after co-hosting with LL Cool J and Jack Harlow last year. As the show went on, however, Minaj only ended up being on stage for a few brief moments. Ninety minutes before the show started, Saweetie hosted the VMA pre-show filled with iconic fashion looks and interviews on the pink carpet (an apt carpet choice given the night’s host) with clips of Saweetie stumbling over the words on the teleprompter going viral on social media. Although most of the looks on the pink carpet were amazing — and it was hard to choose a favorite look — I would say the title for best dressed went to Doja Cat. She hit the pink carpet with a see-through cobweb dress and bejeweled spider earrings.

Performance-wise, there were a few awful bathroom break performances. Peso Pluma sounded and looked terrible while he bounced in place. While their choreography was on point, the Stray Kids performance was very corny from the song choice to the dances. Metro Boomin, a rap producer, just stood at the DJ table during his so-called performance, while rappers being brought out did nothing but walk around the stage as if they were sleep-deprived.

Not every act was like this; there were a fair share of fantastic performances. I was pleasantly surprised by Olivia Rodrigo’s performance. Admittedly I am not a fan of hers, but she owned the stage during her set with the special effects of the stage crashing down during certain parts adding to her performance. Additionally, Demi Lovato delivered an incredible rock medley of her hit songs, Anitta and Karol G each put on a twerk-filled medley of their newest songs and Sabrina Carpenter delivered an elegant performance of “Feather” and “Nonsense” before the show started. My favorite performances of the night came from the female rappers. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performed their new collaboration “Bongos” for the first time. Doja Cat performed three recent singles, “Attention,” “Paint The Town Red” and “Demons” with several backup dancers covered in blood. Minaj performed her song “Last Time I Saw You” and debuted a new, unheard song off her upcoming album called “Big Difference.” She also performed with several male hip-hop artists to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop where she performed her own songs “Itty Bitty Piggy” and “Red Ruby Da Sleeze.”

Several awards were handed out throughout the night, but these were some of the highlights among the award winners. NSYNC got together for the first time in decades to present the “Best Pop” award, the first award of the night, to Taylor Swift (but in my opinion should have gone to Dua Lipa). Nelly Furtado and Timbaland presented the “Song Of The Year” award, which Swift also won. SZA deserved the award for her song “Kill Bill,” but luckily she won the “Best R&B” award for her song “Shirt” even though she wasn’t there to receive it. Minaj won the “Best Hip-Hop” award with her song “Super Freaky Girl.” Rita Ora presented “Best Collaboration” to Karol G & Shakira for their song “TQG.” Minaj gave the “Best Direction” award to Swift, making this her third award of the night. I was hoping Megan Thee Stallion or Doja Cat would win it for the sake of Minaj presenting one of them with an award. Ice Spice won the “Best New Artist” award and was presented it by last year’s winner, Dove Cameron. The award for “Video of the Year” went to (once again) Swift. I personally think either SZA, Doja Cat or Minaj deserved the award. What’s unique to note about the VMAs is that fans are able to vote for the winners of each award category, so the award will typically go to the artist with the most dedicated and overzealous fans (which Swift has). Shakira won the “Video Vanguard” award, the show’s most notable award, being given to a different iconic and legendary artist each year. Diddy was awarded the “Global Icon” award for having made music for around three decades. Both artists performed lengthy medleys of their greatest hit songs, with Diddy being joined by special guests Keyshia Cole and rapper Yung Miami.

Overall the MTV VMAs this year was a solid 6.5/10 show. There were more good performances than bad, the fashion looks were either conventionally beautiful or risqué (or just plain boring if it was one of the men walking the carpet — with the exception of Lil Nas X), most of the awards deserved to go to different artists rather than all of them going to Swift. With the amount of female rappers performing and in attendance of the show itself, there was a disappointing lack of interaction between them that several hip-hop fans (including myself) were looking forward to. Nonetheless, it was a decently enjoyable event to witness on my TV.

Post Author: Michael Tran