2019 MTV VMAs: Best and Worst Moments from the Show

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A few words sum up the three-hour-long 2019 MTV Video Music Awards: inclusivity, self-acceptance, and diversity. 

From the performances to the acceptance speeches, it's clear that this wave of music is here to encourage everyone to be proud of who they are, where they come from, and who they love. 

There was even an award given out for "Video for Good," which was received by Taylor Swift for "You Need to Calm Down," an LGBTQ anthem from her recently released album, "Lover."

Taylor Stands Up for Equality

In fact, after winning "Video of the Year," Taylor thanked fans for being the change she wishes to see and continued to promote the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act, which you can sign at the end of her "You Need to Calm Down" video. 

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“I want to thank everyone who signed that petition because it has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount it would need to warrant a response from the White House," she said taking a jab at the White House before gesturing at her watch impatiently. 

Viral Moments - Camila and Shawn

Though previously a show that hinged its success on carefully calculated viral moments, the VMAs have willingly or unwillingly reframed themselves as a commentary of where we are as a society. 

And what better way than to express that than by music. 

Lizzo took the stage proving she's 100% that bitch.

Her body-positive message and bootylicious performance resonated throughout the Prudential Center as she kicked things off with "Truth Hurts" in front of an inflatable ass before rolling into "Good as Hell," and taking everyone to a hip hop church. 


The inclusion of a Latin category led paired with two Latino performances evoked a lot of pride from the culture and led into a statement about immigration from French Montana.

In trying times, the music industry has proven that it's woke enough to be the change.

Here are some standout moments from the night:

Cardi B at the VMAs

In one of her first performances since dropping her seventh studio album, Taylor Swift's colorful comeback to the VMAs stage was a joyous way to kick off the show.

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After "You Need to Calm Down," Taylor dove into slower single "Lover," a subtle reminder of her country roots. And no one can complain about seeing Taylor let loose and have fun during the show. She really is a fan of music. 


Miley Cyrus proved that love songs are just as powerful at award shows than upbeat songs with a backdrop chock full of dancers.

The VMA stage is still recovering from Miley's wilder antics -- twerking on Robin Thicke with a foam finger in a nude, latex two-piece -- but the stripped-down song allowed her to bare her soul in a black-and-white lens and her powerhouse vocals to take the lead.

Heartbreak looks damn good on that girl. 

Then again, she did have a support system in new girlfriend Kaitlyn backstage. 

Miley Cyrus Strips Down

Latin flavor infused the VMAs in yet another prolific moment. Rosalia, who won the award for Latino song with J Balvin earlier in the hour, made her debut performance and thanked MTV for allowing her to perform a Spanish song. 

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Meanwhile, J Balvin teamed up with fellow Latin star Bad Bunny for an animated version of "Que Pretendes."

Que Pretendes

Old Town Road is a song you cannot escape. Anywhere you turn, you hear those banjo strums.

However, Lil Nas X, who made his VMAs debut, didn't perform his hit single. Instead, he opted for a futuristic rendition of his second, and equally as catchy, single "Panini." 

A man who didn't have more than $10 to his name just last year had a grand production at one of music's biggest show's. And while an impressive feat, even Gigi and Bella Hadid singing along couldn't be the performance's lifeline. 

Lil Nas X did carry one of the better moments during his win for "Song of the Year."

Though it marked Lil Nas X's first award ever, he shared the milestone with Billy Ray Cyrus, the man who helped propel the song further up the charts and gave it the "country" twang the country community said was lacking.

Though Cyrus gave most of the credit for redefining genres to Lil Nas X. 

Lil Nas X Wins First Award

We're suckers for a good pop-star love story, and Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello are delivering it to us.

Their performance of "Senorita" was supposed to be their debut as a couple, and though the performance was smoking hot, it was a complete tease.

The lovebirds never puckered up, and we were all left as disappointed as Joe Jonas, who even perched himself up on his chair to see if there'd be a kiss.

The camera did pick up a lovey moment between Shawn and Camila as they snuggled up and held hands in the audience. But how choreographed was it? After all, an article got published at one entertainment site days in advance touting that lovey feeling!

No Kiss Heard Round the World

People always say that you don't know what you've got till it's gone, but that isn't the case for the Jonas Brothers.

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We knew what we had when they were a band, we knew what we were missing, and we're eternally grateful that they're back. 

Comeback Walk

The return of the Jonas Brothers to the VMAs was ten years overdue, and somehow, just in time.

Kevin, Joe, and Nick didn't even need to perform from inside the arena to be hailed as the performers of the night. They're that good. 

And honestly, anytime they showed Sophie Turner or Joe Jonas after not seeing the kiss, it was a golden moment.

Eager Fan

Sometimes, a trip down memory lane is just what you need.

After all, many people claim that the VMAs were significantly better in the 90s when artists were still allowed some room for spontaneity.

After Normani's performance, I'm inclined to agree.

Normani's stage replicated her video for "Motivation," which drew inspiration from some of the greats like Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.

Normani was always a star, even in her Fifth Harmony days, but this performance specifically solidified her as a superstar.

We can expect bigger and better from Normani, and that's saying something after she delivered a double-backflip and finished in a split.

Wardrobe malfunction be damned. 

Let Normani Be Your Motivation

Back in 2003, Missy Elliott's "Work It" won Video of the Year. Sixteen years later, Missy accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, an honor that was 16 years overdue.

To say that Missy slayed the stage before accepting the coveted award would be an understatement.

Missy unintentionally proved just how great she is with a seven-minute medley spanning her entire iconic catalog, which has paved the way for essentially every artist working in the R&B and hip-hop realms. 

Get Your Freak On

Everyone turned out to support Missy tonight even the original "Work It" dancer, Disney alum Alyson Stoner.

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If you're a Missy fan, you know that she's a staunch supporter of the dance community, something she mentioned in her acceptance speech. 

Alyson Stoner "Work It"

Unfortunately, the host of the night, Sebastian Maniscalco, didn't match the progressive theme of the show.

Hosting a three-hour awards show is a tall order, which is why no awards show has ever found the perfect host.

But after this disaster, it may be time for them to take a cue from the Oscars and try a year without a host.

Safe Space and Trigger Warnings

Since the show relies on standalone viral moments that are made for the internet, they could get away without a host.

They have enough star power to plug gaps between giving out awards and performances.  

It would save us all from all the awkward moments, jokes that fell flat, and the bashing of safe spaces and trigger warnings that should never have been approved by MTV, a network that changed the name of Moon Men to Moon People to be more inclusive. 

For a stand-up comedian, Maniscalco sure didn't know how to read a crowd.

And that's not us being oversensitive. 

Lizzy Buczak was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in June 2021..

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