Beyoncé singlehandedly saves the VMAs

Beyonce poses backstage during the 56th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Beyonce poses backstage during the 56th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The VMAs celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, but you wouldn’t know it from the trite and dull show that was aired.

Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J opened the awards show. Grande put on a solid performance, but Nicki Minaj’s appearance was doomed from the beginning.

The singer was to perform “Anaconda” with an actual anaconda on stage, but after the serpent bit one of the backup dancers during rehearsal, she was forced to perform sans snake. Perhaps it was the VMA gods telling Minaj that VMA performances with snakes are reserved for Britney Spears.

The derrière anthem, which samples Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” was instead a jungle-inspired mess with Minaj in an emerald green costume. But Minaj’s bad luck didn’t end there. During “Bang Bang” with Grande and Jessie J, her dress split open. She was left to awkwardly hold her dress together with both hands during the rest of the performance to remain clothed. Luckily for MTV, she didn’t pull a Janet Jackson with the wardrobe malfunction.

The first award of the night, Best Female Video, went to Katy Perry for “Dark Horse.” The win was surprising, considering Perry had the weakest video in the category with the other nominated videos being “Fancy,” “Partition,” “Royals” and “Problem.”

Taylor Swift performed her new single, “Shake It Off,” with a retro-themed set. Swift acknowledged the apparently cursed VMAs mid-performance when she was to jump off the platform on stage. “I don’t care if it’s the VMAs, I’m not jumping off of there. There’s all kinds of people getting bitten by snakes. It’s dangerous,” she joked.

While asking viewers to vote for the MTV Artist to Watch Award, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Jay Pharoah impersonated Kanye West. Kim Kardashian politely laughed along while the comedian mocked her husband’s egocentric tendencies. The award went to Fifth Harmony of “X Factor” fame.

One of the night’s most vocally impressive performances was by Sam Smith. He sang “Stay With Me.” It was the most simplistic of the night, but also the most beautiful. Maroon 5 gave an energetic performance of “Maps.” Newlywed Adam Levine donned a Lakers jersey under his leather jacket during the outdoor performance.

In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, MTV paid tribute to Robin Williams. Set to Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars,” pictures of the comedic genius flashed on the screen.

Undeservedly, Miley Cyrus walked away with the Video of The Year Award for “Wrecking Ball.” With Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love” and Sia’s “Chandelier” both in the running, it simply was not the best video. However, Cyrus used the opportunity to advocate for homeless youth by not accepting her first-ever VMA award herself. Instead, she sent a homeless man on stage. With shaky hands, and with the help of Jimmy Fallon who held the microphone for the visibly nervous man, he went on to give an emotional speech:

“My name is Jesse, and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I am one of these people. I survived in shelters all over the city. I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms; I’ve been an extra in your movies; I’ve been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight,” he said.

Cyrus cried during his speech and officially redeemed herself for last year’s notorious VMA performance by using the moment to unselfishly put the spotlight on an important issue.

The biggest moment of the night came when Beyoncé transformed the VMAs into a mini-concert before receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. The 15-minute performance was pure perfection. It was rumored that she would have a Destiny’s Child reunion on stage a la Justin Timberlake with *NSYNC at last year’s show when he was the recipient of the same award, but that didn’t happen. However, Kelly Rowland was in the audience, sitting next to Jay-Z and Blue Ivy.

Wearing a bejeweled bodysuit, the singer performed hit after hit, reminding us that she has never recorded a bad song. The medley turned emotional when she sang “Blue,” a song dedicated to her daughter that features Blue talking. Personal home videos and pictures of the couple with their daughter played on the screen behind her as she unsuccessfully fought back tears.

Blue Ivy stole the show as well by singing and dancing along to the whole performance. In a gold dress and with a bow in her hair, the toddler melted the heart of America when she mimicked the hand dance in the “Flawless” video as Beyoncé performed.

Jay-Z and Blue Ivy presented the singer with the award. Beyoncé burst into tears once the two joined her on stage.

“Good job, mommy” the 2-year-old said just loud enough for the microphone to pick up her small voice, all the while clapping for her megastar mother. Jay-Z, holding Blue Ivy on one arm and the moon man on the other, presented her the award by calling her the “greatest living entertainer.”

Her speech was short and sweet as the star was clearly humbled. Addressing her daughter and husband, she said, “Blue Blue, I love you. My beloved, I love you,” before the adorable family made their way off the stage.

Flawless, indeed.

The full list of last night’s winners can be found here.

 

Reach the reporter at jurgiles@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @MrsMathers94