Lady Gaga cleaned up at MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday, an unorthodox show that paid socially distanced homage to New York City as themes of voting and racial justice punctuated the night.
The 2020 VMAs — a show known more for ostentatious performances, made-for-Twitter moments and wild costumes than the actual awards — was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, with performances held at outdoor spaces and many celebrities accepting prizes via video.
Host Keke Palmer, known for her role in last year’s film “Hustlers,” opened the show with an emotional cold-open paying tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who just died after of cancer.
“We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many,” she said of the performer who portrayed James Brown and Jackie Robinson, and was the first Black superhero in “Black Panther.”
Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd — whose wins included the coveted Video of The Year — then launched into a performance of the hit “Blinding Lights” atop a viewing deck protruding off a Manhattan skyscraper, 1,000 feet in the air.
“It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now,” he said in accepting his moon man trophy for Best R&B. I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” he continued, referring to recent black victims of police violence.