Justin Bieber, Foo Fighters & More Must-See MTV VMAs Performances (VIDEO)
Marking the 40th birthday of MTV, the 2021 Video Music Awards celebrated the anniversary of the iconic channel with, of course, some amazing music!
Hosted by Doja Cat, the ceremony featured performances from the industry’s biggest stars and up-and-coming artists, from Justin Bieber to Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. Along with a rocking performance, legendary rock band Foo Fighters were honored with the VMA Global Icon Award.
Below, we’re looking back at some of the most memorable performances and wins of the night!
Justin Bieber opens the show and wins big
MTVJustin Bieber opened the show with newcomer The Kid Laroi to perform the hit song “Stay,” marking Bieber’s first VMA appearance in six years. After the two shared a friendly hug, Bieber proved why he is the music icon he is with an energetic performance of “Ghost.” Later in the night he took home the award for Best Pop for “Peaches” ft. Daniel Caesar and Giveon, as well as the coveted Artist of the Year award.
Olivia Rodrigo’s back-to-back performances, and first win
From starring in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to topping the summer music charts with her hit freshman album “Sour,” Olivia Rodrigo made her VMA debut performing her teen breakup anthem “good for u.” As if her night couldn’t have started any better, she took home the first award of the night, winning Song of the Year for her debut single “drivers license.”
Kacey Musgrave’s candlelit VMA debut
After releasing her follow-up album to the Grammy Award-winning “Golden Hour” on Sept. 10, Kacey Musgraves lit up the VMAs stage with a plethora of candles and flaming hearts to perform her new album’s title track “star-crossed.”
Ed Sheeran’s NYC Skyline Stage
Taking over the Toyota Stage, Ed Sheeran performed the television debut of his latest single “Shivers. Not only did the performance give fans “shivers,” but so did the backdrop of the gorgeous NYC skyline from Brooklyn.
Lil Nas X proves he is the “Industry, Baby”
Perhaps one of the most anticipated performances of the night, Lil Nas X pulled out all the stops for his performance of “INDUSTRY BABY.” Accompanied by a full marching band and Jack Harlow, the stage recreated many of the music video’s pink-dripped prison scenes, working showers and all! Following some impressive dance moves, the music transitioned into the memorable “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” to wrap up the performance.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes spice things up
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes proved that they are one of the industry’s biggest power couples with back-to-back performances. Starting off the performance in black and white, Cabello brought the party with her colorful Latin pop single “Don’t Go Yet,” only to throw it off to her boyfriend to perform his recent release “Summer of Love” with Tainy.
Doja Cat tackles several roles
VMA nominee Doja Cat took on triple duty throughout the night, serving as the ceremony’s host as well as performing. She added aerialist and dancer to her list of titles, giving a high-flying performance of “Been Like This” & “You Right.” Later on, she won the award for Best Collab for her song “Kiss Me More” with SZA. During her speech, she commented on her creative fashion choice, stating, “I look like a worm. That’s dope.”
Chloe Bailey goes solo
One half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle, Chloe Bailey made her solo artist debut performing her first single “Have Mercy.” While not on stage by her sister’s side, Halle Bailey introduced the performance, showing lots of love for her sister’s solo project.
Foo Fighters become MTV Global Icons
Introduced by Billie Eilish, Foo Fighters took the VMA stage to receive the first-ever Global Icon Award, performing their hits from over the years, including “Learn to Fly,” “Shame Shame,” and “Everlong.” Frontman Dave Grohl spoke on behalf of the members to thank all the people who supported them throughout their 26-year-long career.
Alicia Keys Celebrates NYC with Swae Lee
NYC native Alicia Keys was joined by Swae Lee to perform their latest single “Lala,” which dropped on Sept. 9. Celebrating her love of the host city, Keys, in a gorgeous golden gown, sat down at the piano for a beautiful rendition of her and Jay-Z’s iconic “Empire State of Mind.”
Olivia Rodrigo Wins Best New Artist
Determined by fan votes on Twitter, host and former Best New Artist winner Doja Cat presented the iconic award to Olivia Rodrigo, who thanked fellow nominee The Kid Laroi in her speech.
Busta Rhymes Breaks it Down
Hip hop icon Busta Rhymes busted several rhymes alongside Spliff Star for a melody of hits that had the crowd jumping in their seats, proving that music legends never forget how to put on a memorable performance.
Lil Nas X Takes Home Video of the Year
Lil Nas X took home the night’s top prize, winning Video of the Year for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” Dancing his way up the stage to collect the award, the video also took home the prize for Best Direction.