If you thought a global pandemic was going to stop the music, you thought wrong.
MTV’s Video Music Awards went ahead on Monday morning (our time), forging a path for future awards shows broadcasting mid-pandemic.
Hosted by Keke Palmer, this year’s VMAs look a little different and will illustrate how ceremonies can go ahead in the age of social distancing.
For one, much of the ceremony – including the stars’ red carpet looks and performances – was either recorded remotely or pre-recorded.
Canned applause and creepy, faceless, CGI audiences were also featured in an effort to create an awards-style atmosphere, a move that future ceremonies should avoid at all costs.
Nothing says ‘dystopian future’ like a fake crowd.
— AlexWilliam (@IndyAWiseguy) August 31, 2020
Those who didn’t pre-tape their performances took to various outdoor stages throughout New York to avoid furthering the spread of coronavirus throughout the pandemic-ravaged US.
MTV said this year’s ceremony would “pay homage to the incredible resiliency of New York, with several outdoor performances around the city with limited or no audience”.
Lady Gaga, sporting a futuristic digital face mask (which, somehow didn’t look out of place for her), blessed viewers with a medley of songs from her 2020 album Chromatica and even brought out VMA veteran Ariana Grande for a duet of their song Rain On Me.
Anyone complaining that their outdoor exercise has been hindered by a sweaty face mask should watch Gaga and Grande’s performance immediately.
Elsewhere, a mullet-sporting Miley Cyrus wowed fans with her new song Midnight Sky, The Weeknd performed his hit Blinding Lights, while newcomer rapper and singer, Doja Cat, performed Say So.
And while many celebrities enforced social distancing and face mask regulations, they somehow managed to skirt New York’s mandatory two-week quarantine for those entering the city for more than 24 hours.
Despite the fake-crowd criticism, the night appeared to go off without a hitch.
The success of the VMAs should be a beacon of hope to other awards shows, like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, who pulled the plug on their 2020 ceremonies entirely.
It seems the pre-recorded red carpet, virtual appearances and remote performances might just become the new normal.
The gold, the bright and the ugly …
If the outfits from the 2020 VMAs tell us anything, it’s that the 1990s are back in a big way.
Jaden Smith inadvertently channelled vintage Will Smith with a bright, colourful get-up, nodding to his father’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air glory days.
Singer Bebe Rexha didn’t take home any awards this year, but she should have won the award for best and most impractical nails.
The oversized, leather blazer-dress with string details feels like Buffy meets The Matrix and somehow, it works.
(Not pictured: The assistant she had to hire to do all her practical tasks, like texting and tying her shoelaces).
Trendsetter and effortlessly cool Bella Hadid let out her inner ’90s goth with a sheer, mesh ensemble and spiky up-do.
You too can achieve this look with a pair of old stockings, some scissors and grandpa’s suit pants.
Hadid’s ex-boyfriend, The Weeknd, arrived sporting a bright, fire-engine blazer and a heavily made-up, bruised and bloodied face.
Despite looking like he had taken a beating, it was the Blinding Lights singer who beat out competitors to take home two awards, including best video and best R&B video.
This year’s host, Keke Palmer, delighted fans with a series of outfit changes, including a lime-green bodysuit for her Snack performance, and a Tiffany-blue, embellished mini-dress.
Lady Gaga has never attended an event without an outlandish outfit worth talking about.
This year, she had many.
The Rain On Me singer flaunted a futuristic silver number with a PPE-approved, alien-inspired fishbowl on her head.
She accepted her various awards (including the inaugural tri-con award for best singer, actress, dancer and activist) wearing a bright green dress and a brown face mask with octopus-viking detailing.
She later reappeared dressed as a stylish peacock.
Miley Cyrus is in the middle of a campaign to bring back the lady mullet, and the Midnight Sky singer is making a surprisingly good case for it.
Her dazzling, sheer Mugler dress and glove combo was equal parts elegant and enticing.
Drew Barrymore was a picture of old Hollywood glamour in her gold Celine grown.
After the ceremony, Barrymore donated her dress to coronavirus conspiracy theorists who repurposed it into a series of trendy tin-hats.