Mikayla Schwartz, Contributing Writer

After last year’s less than exciting hybrid version, the highly anticipated live 2021 MTV Music Video Awards (VMAs) were held just a few weeks ago on September 12.  This year’s show was hosted by rapper Doja Cat, and was held at the Barclays Center in New York, a venue that last hosted the VMAs in 2013.  The overall atmosphere on the red carpet this year was particularly “exhilarating” given the long wait for a live show.  “After being home for 18 months with the pandemic, everyone’s excited,” said Avril Lavigne (USA Today Entertainment).  First started in 1984, the MTV Music Video Awards celebrate the work that goes into the art of making a music video.  This staple in pop culture offers a place for artists to showcase their best outfits, performances, and win awards such as Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and the most prestigious award: Video of the Year. 


Celebrities first began appearing on the red carpet at 6 pm.  One of the first celebrities to appear was Lil Nas X, who was performing and was also nominated for 6 awards.  When asked how it felt to be back on the red carpet, Lil Nas X said “It feels good though, you know. I’m happy” (MTV).  Other notable celebrities attending the show included Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello, Madonna, Kacey Musgraves, and Olivia Rodrigo, just to name a few. 


To kick off the show, audience members were ecstatic to see Madonna returning to the stage to make a speech congratulating MTV on its 40th anniversary.  “And they said we wouldn’t last… Happy 40th MTV!” said Madonna (MTV).  Justin Beiber and Kid Laroi followed Madonna’s opening speech with a performance of their hit songs “Stay” and “Ghost”.  Next, hit-maker Olivia Rodrigo performed her iconic 2021 single “Good 4 You”, the video of which went viral after she smashed the camera lens.  Twenty One Pilots performed their hit “Saturday” from their most recent album “Scaled and Icy”, with singer Tyler Joseph revealing that he and his wife were expecting their second child.  Performing at the VMAs for the first time ever, Kacey Musgraves sang her new single “star-crossed”.  Shawn Mendes and Tainy also performed their song “Summer of Love”, Lil Nas X performed his hit song “Industry Baby”, and for the first time ever, Chloë (from hit group Chloe x Halle) performed her new single “Have Mercy”.  Arguably the most iconic performance of the night, however, was the performance by “Foo Fighters”, the group being given the Global Icon Award. They performed a compilation of three of their most popular songs.  “Thank you all very much for this award, we’ll see you all in 26 years,” said band frontman Dave Grohl when accepting (MTV). 


Throughout the night, viewers anxiously anticipated who would win the main awards.  Following Justin Beiber’s performance (his first performance at the VMAs since 2015), audiences cheered as he won Artist of the Year.  Upcomer Olivia Rodrigo won several awards, including Best New Artist, Push Performance of the Year, and Song of the Year.  “I liked her performance a lot, and I’m happy she won Best New Artist,” said 11th grader Marley Cooper.  Further, the music video for Harry Styles’ “Treat People With Kindness” won the VMA for Best Choreography, pleasing many.  “The choreography was super cool, and it was a really well shot video,” said 11th grader Gail Rowe.  Infamous K-pop group BTS won the award for Best Group, and their song “Butter” also won the Best K-Pop award.  The most important award of the night, however, was the Video of the Year Award.  Nominees included Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, Ed Sheeran, The Weekend, DJ Khaled, and Cardi B.  Despite the tough competition, Lil Nas X emerged victorious for the music video for his song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”.  Overall, this was a night to remember, and underscored the great potential of the next generation in the music industry.  We can’t wait to see what the 2022 VMAs have in store.