Britney's appearance at the ceremony marked her first performance at the VMAs in nearly 10 years. Performers included OK Go, post-prime Ludacris, and (of course) Tenacious D. James Blunt, Avenged Sevenfold, and Fort Minor all won awards, the latter for "Best Ringtone". Aside from belatedly sounding the death knell for rock music's dominance on MTV, the little-watched and miserably received '06 VMAs showed what the channel was now missing more than anything: Blinding, undeniable star power. As if it wasn't enough to be awarded one of the most-prized categories of the evening by a Jimmy-Fallon-impersonating-Ryan-Lochte, the female dynamo took home moonmen for Video of the Year ("Formation"), Best Female Video ("Hold Up"), Breakthrough Long Form Video ("Lemonade"), Best Direction ("Formation"), Best Cinematography ("Formation") and Best Editing ("Formation") categories. Tonight we celebrate you! But until Sunday night, even with the moderate success of "Britney Jean" and especially "Femme Fatale", she avoided the VMAs stage (and any non-Vegas performances, really) entirely.
In one of the night's most anticipated moments, rap superstar Kanye West - who a year ago used the occasion to declare his intention to run for president in 2020 - delivered a almost stream-of-consciousness speech about empowerment. Britney emerged looking, dancing and lip-syncing as good as the days she donned bikini tops and Burmese pythons. None of the performances were disastrous, but the fury never quite matched the sound for any. Thankfully, Kanye West made a decision to do something about it. Aforementioned grainy versions of both can be found across various platforms, or fans can always watch them on MTV's site.
But West's baffling speech was only a prelude to even more madness: He was there to introduce the new video for "Fade," from Life of Pablo.
There's a fire in her eyes when she sings and dances, not unlike that seen in the eyes of Beyoncé.
Opening the show and then performing a subsequent three times, Rihanna brought the music back to the show.
Ariana Grande, with the help of Niki Minaj, also had people talking with her aerobics-centric performance of "Side to Side", which seemed like Olivia Newton-Johns "Physical" music video if it took place at SoulCycle.
The Barbados-born beauty sported a sexy sheer, fringe jumpsuit and hoop earrings while Drake opted for jeans and a black and blue printed jacket, a much more casual look from his dapper award show tuxedo.
Drake presented the pop star with her award at the close of the show with a heartfelt speech about how the two first met, and how he's been in love with her since he was 22 years old.