The 2015 MTV VMAs: The Good, The Bad and The Kanye

Gregory E. Miller
onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Winter/MTV/Getty Images

The wildest night in music--the MTV Video Music Awards--lived up to its reputation on Sunday, delivering once-in-a-lifetime performances, insane fashion, and unforgettable feuds. With Miley Cyrus as host and the likes of Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj in attendance, it was bound to be a bumpy (but exciting!) ride. Here were the night’s best and worst moments.

THE GOOD:

 

Justin Bieber got emotional

The VMAs were a big night for the oft-troubled Justin Bieber, who essentially planned his entire comeback around them. If his performance tonight was any indication, he should have no problem shooting back up the charts. His one-two punch of “Where Are U Now” and “What Do You Mean?” was one of the night’s most impressive numbers, featuring intricate choreography and a genuinely impassioned Bieber. By the second song’s end, Bieber had broken down in tears, ensuring his redemption in the public eye would be complete by Monday morning.

VMAs Taylor and Nicki

Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV

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  Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj squashed the beef

All anyone was talking about in the lead-up to the VMAs was the fall-out between Swift and Minaj on Twitter after Minaj was infuriated she didn’t get more nominations for her “Anaconda” video. But the two put their little disagreement behind them for a must-see opening number. Minaj began the show with a new song “Trini Dem Girls” before transitioning to her hit “The Night Is Still Young,” for which Swift joined. That led into the two doubling down on Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Though the moment definitely felt forced, and neither star looked particularly enthused to be pairing up, it was an instant talker, which is really what the night is all about, after all.

The Weeknd performs at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs)

MTV

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The Weeknd set the stage on fire

The Weeknd is one of the most reliable hitmakers of the year, and the Michael Jackson-tinged chart topper “I Can’t Feel My Face,” is among his best tracks. So it wasn’t really a surprise that the R&B singer’s television debut of the song left a major mark. Even with a pretty minimal production--aside from some serious fire--the number proved this dude’s a superstar.

Miley Cyrus turned into a drag queen

Given her risqué reputation, expectations were high for Miley Cyrus’s takeover as host. But for most of the night, she didn’t really do anything other than wear lots of over-the-top, revealing outfits and make marijuana jokes in grown-up Hannah Montana skits. But all was forgiven by the end of the night, when she closed out the show with a bewildering, bizarre new number alongside a slew of RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. The message may not have been totally clear—other than that again, she smokes pot—but it was undeniable fun. And the cherry on the cake? She used it to announce a new album which began streaming immediately on her website.

THE BAD:

 

Nicki Minaj got aggressive

In the most awkward moment of the night, Nicki Minaj concluded her acceptance speech for best hip-hop video by throwing it back to the host Miley Cyrus, saying “this bitch that had a lot to say about me in the press the other day.” She basically then threatened her, spitting, “What’s good, Miley?” A very uncomfortable Cyrus tried to play it off, saying the New York Times—the world’s most respected newspaper—had manipulated her interview. Yeah, neither lady came out looking good on this one.

Iggy Azalea got through security

In recent months, poor Iggy Azalea has fallen from pop-rap’s biggest rising star to one of the Internet’s favorite punching bags. Her surprise appearance at the VMAs won’t help her cause. The “Fancy” rapper popped up in the middle of her good friend Demi Lovato’s otherwise stellar performance of “Cool For the Summer” to deliver a new rap verse. Unfortunately, the lyrics of that rap were virtually indecipherable, and Iggy looked like she’d rather be anywhere else but there.

Nick Jonas pulled a Britney

One of the main events of the VMAs pre-show was newly minted solo star Nick Jonas’ performance of his most recent single, “Levels.” The song’s an earworm, for sure, but unfortunately Jonas lip-synched the entire thing—and not very well.

Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky didn’t mesh

 

When the performers for the night were announced, Twenty One Pilots immediately stood out as the biggest head-scratcher. Though the duo has a number one album to their name, they haven’t charted a single hit in the Hot 100’s top 40—or even close. Their random selection for the evening was only made worse by the oddball pairing with also-ran rapper A$AP Rocky. Throw in a fourth quarter time slot when viewers were really just hungry for a big finale, and this was one major dud.

AND IN A CATEGORY ALL HIS OWN, THE KANYE:

 

MTV never announced before the show that Taylor Swift would be handing out the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award—a lifetime achievement accolade—to Kanye West, but just about everyone predicted it. Sure enough, Swift introduced West, using his infamous line, “I’mma let you finish…” Though cheesy, it was inoffensive enough. But then Kanye took to the stage. Did he perform a 15-minute medley of some of his beloved music, as the past two winners Justin Timberlake and Beyonce did? No, looking like he’d just rolled out of bed, he grabbed the mic and proceeded to ramble for what felt like eons. There may have been an apology to Swift for his 2009 interruption at some point, but it was mostly just more of Kanye’s typical self-aggrandizing shtick. By the end, he ultimately admitted to being high, and then announced he was running for president in 2020. Trump’s not looking so bad now, eh?

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