Taylor Swift once again dominated the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), winning for every televised category in which she was nominated, in a night that otherwise celebrated Latin music, including the pre-eminence of Shakira, as well as 50 years of hip-hop.
Swift, currently in the middle of the first billion-dollar stadium tour in history, took home the night’s top prize, video of the year, for her Midnights track Anti-Hero, as well as best direction, best pop video and song of the year.
The 33-year-old singer dedicated her wins to the art of songwriting as well as to presenters ‘NSync, who reunited for the first time in over a decade to give her one award, and her video editor Chancler Hanes and cinematographer Rina Yang, who spoke on Swift’s behalf for her video of the year win.
After splitting emcee duties with LL Cool J and Jack Harlow last year, Nicki Minaj took over as the sole host of the 40th annual VMAs at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, and won an award, best hip-hop, for her track Super Freaky Girl. “So often I joke around and play around and stuff, but tonight, I don’t know why, this morning I just woke up and I had this really strong sense of gratitude,” she said.
The performance-heavy, relatively chaos-free VMAs devoted a significant portion of its nearly four-hour ceremony to celebrating 50 years of hip-hop, from a night-opening performance by Lil Wayne to the VMA debut of Metro Boomin to a finale medley featuring Doug E Fresh, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, LL Cool J, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, Lil Wayne and Minaj herself.
Mary J Blige presented the global icon award to Diddy, AKA Puff Daddy and Love, whose real name is Sean Combs. “Nobody deserves to be called an icon more than this man,” Blige said of the rapper, producer, business mogul and record executive, who performed a sequence of hits from Mo Money Mo Problems to Last Night with Keyshia Cole along with his son King Combs.
“Love wins, y’all. Love wins,” Combs said in a speech that covered his origins as a paperboy before getting cast in music videos by dancing (“doing my Diddy jig”) in New York clubs. “I appreciate you all coming and just giving me my flowers and celebrating me … this is a dream come true for me.