2018 MTV Video Music Awards (Recap)

Cardi B at 2018 VMAs

As summer 2018 meets its unfortunate end, what better a way to finish then with the Video Music Awards! Last week, on Monday (Aug, 20), the 2018 MTV VMAs took place live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. This year’s show actually possessed many amazing performances and some interesting surprises (I mean, it’s the VMA’s!) that made it even more memorable than last year’s show. The excitement began with none other than the snatched and utterly polished new mama herself, Cardi B. “What’s popping everybody, welcome to New York,” the Bronx native shouted as she held what appeared to be her newborn wrapped in a blanket in her arms. After a couple of (un-funny) jokes, Cardi unraveled the blanket and instead of the crowd seeing her baby, Kulture, it was her first Moonman award of the night. She then brought out the night’s first performer, Shawn Mendes.

Mendes’ performance was very theatrical and larger-than-life, as Mendes had thundering clouds projected on the screen as he performed his hit single, “In My Blood.” As the performance went on, his passion and energy increased. His stage presence was great, as he had the audience feeding out of his hands and singing so fervently along. Near the end of the performance, he unleashed a downpour that left him and the stage utterly drenched. He created this true vision of a modern-day pop-star/rockstar and started the show off on a fairly decent note beginning the memorable moments of the night. The next memorable moment swiftly followed when Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish came on stage to present the Best Hip-Hop Award. Through a comedic sketch, the two shamelessly and comically clowned celebrities such as DJ Khaled, the cast of Jersey Shore, Camila Cabello (and her former group Fifth Harmony), themselves, and more.

The surprises just kept raining down as the highly controversial Nicki Minaj won the VMA for Best Hip Hop, beating out The Carters, Drake, J. Cole, and Cardi B. During her speech, she clapped back at Tiffany and her Fifth Harmony joke defending former Fifth Harmony member, Normani calling her “That b*tch.” After thanking everyone who featured on her album, Queen, she made a plug for her Queen Radio declaring that she’d be naming someone for “c***sucker of the day award.”

The next defining moment arrived with Logic’s monumental performance. Logic never disappoints and always uses his platform to deliver messages that focus on the state of our country and the issues at hand. Introduced by Teyana Taylor and Kyle, Logic teamed up with Ryan Tedder to perform “One Day.” As usual, Logic brought the visuals as he stormed into the VMA arena with a troop of kids wearing shirts saying, “We are all human beings,” while his shirt stated, “F*ck the wall.” Logic blazed the stage with pure passion and energy. With a sign behind the stage that read, “U.S. Border Control,” the performance was a clear stand against Trump and his immigration policy. As Tedder sung his heart out, kids and parents came together with candles in their hands as they held each other tightly. The performance was truly moving and one of the absolute best of the night.


The show continued with another great performance of the night from Panic at the Disco, as they performed their “High Hopes” single! Singer Brendon Urie started the high energy performance from the balcony, as he drifted through the air and descended to the ground before making his way to the stage. Urie pranced around the stage in his flashy floral suit with the band and kept the crowd immensely entertained. Between his vocals, the bands amazing delivery and the amazing energy of them all combined, the performance was amazing.

The “Queen” herself, Nicki Minaj followed right after with an unforgettable performance from the middle of the World Trade Center Terminal Station. With dancers covered in gold, unicorn props, and a blazing stage presence, Minaj performed three cuts from her Queen album, including “Majesty,” “Barbie Dreams,” and a verse from “Ganja Burn.” She then surprised the fans with a performance of her verse on 6ix9ine’s “FeFe” record. Despite all the drama that has been associated with this album era and its release, the performance was stronger than ever. With her blonde bob, animated mannerisms, and a golden outfit to match her queen vibes, Nicki quickly made it known that she can still command the stage. Regardless of how anyone feels ‘s about Nicki, the audience literally ate the entire set up and it could definitely be named as a top performance of the night.


Of COURSE, the absolute best performance of the night came when Jennifer Lopez received her award for Video Vanguard and utterly tore the stage down with a medley of her hits that we will be talking about for years to come. At 49, J.Lo QUICKLY reminded the entire world that age is simply a number and she can still body whatever stage you place her on. She came with hits on top of hits beginning with the instant pop sensations (“Waiting For Tonight,” “On the Floor,” and “Ain’t Your Mama”). Lopez’s dancing skills are insane! She hit every move you could think of. She showed not even an ounce of fatigue and she just kept going through each song like it was nothing. Not only did she perform her hits, but she had several intricate dance breakdowns. I’m pretty sure she performed for about 20 minutes. The moment finally came where she took it back to that hood J-Lo that everyone remembers and performed her other hits such as “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Get Right” (one of my favorite songs of hers), “All I Have,” and “Jenny from the Block!” You knew it was real once she brought the fur coat out too!


The party didn’t end there as DJ Khaled made an appearance as he got the crowd excited while Lopez’s dancers danced as she went to change her performance attire.  To everyone’s surprise following her “Jenny from the Block” cut (not mine), she brought out Ja Rule to perform their collaborations such as “I’m Real (Murda Remix) and “Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix)!” The audience nearly lost it seeing the two unite on the stage once again with such great chemistry years later. J-Lo started feeling herself and even hit a twerk that social media instantly started buzzing about. She ended the medley with “Dinero” DJ Khaled returned to stage shouting out J-Lo and riling fans up as she departed the stage. “BLESS UP THE QUEEN, J-LO,” Khaled shouted.

Following her iconic set, Shawn Mendes presented her with the Video Vanguard Award calling Lopez a “classic triple threat.” Fresh from killing the stage she returned to a standing ovation and chants from the entire arena. “You know I group up on MTV… and this is a tremendous honor for me,” Lopez proclaimed. “It has been an incredible journey of dreaming my wildest dreams and then kind of watching them come true — music, acting, performing, this career has always been kind of an obsession for me. When people have said, “You’re doing too much, you can only do one thing.” I always had it in my mind… I was a person who was like, “why not?” I had to forge my own path and make my own rules,” she continued. As her family, boyfriend Alex Rodriguez watched her with such happiness she shared her love for them and thanked them for their support. She ended her speech thanking her fans for the infinite love and support before taking her seat for the night.

Now, besides the epic performance from J-Lo, Ariana followed with what I believe was the BEST moment of the night! The 25-year-old let her hair down literally as she performed this beautiful, aesthetically pleasing performance of what I consider to be one of the best records from her album Sweetener, “God is a Woman.” With an immensely diverse group of female dancers, a religious theme, and vocals sent from God above, the performance was flawless. Following after her big sister and friend, Nicki Minaj, Grande was covered in all gold from top to bottom. The design of her set was so amazing and visually stunning it made the entire performance that much better. Grande brought so much sex appeal and flavor that I wasn’t sure who she was in that moment but I loved every second of it! She even had some choreography in the performance! Before the song’s end, she walked hand-in-hand with her mother and grandmother as smiles covered their faces. The performance was easily top 3 of the entire night.

Before the performances continued, actress Millie Bobby Brown presented Cardi B with the VMA for Best New Artist, her second Moonman of the night. After thanking everyone for the award. had some rather… interesting words for the listeners that made for yet another memorable, social media worthy moment. “I’m so happy t receive this award. A couple of months ago, people were saying, you know you’re gambling your career, you’re about to have a baby, what are you doing? And you know, I had a baby, I carried the baby, and now I’m still winning awards,” she began. “I want to thank all my fans, my family, and all the love that my family and friends show me. It’s genuine, it’s beautiful, and that’s something God gives me that you can’t buy… B*TCH!” The shade was evident in that last statement and Twitter instantly took note of it!

As the show grew closer to its end, DJ Khaled returned to the stage to introduce the next performer, his friend, Travis Scott! As expected, Trav performed several songs (“Stargazing,” “Stop Trying to be God,” and “Sicko Mode”) from his No. 1 album, Astroworld! As his wifey and baby’s mother, Kylie Jenner sat in the audience proudly watching, Scott brought Astroworld to the VMA’s with trippy visuals, autotune and heavy charisma. With the assistance of the great James Blake, Scott performed “Stop Trying to be God” with such elegant appeal. The atmosphere immediately shifted when the beat to “Sicko Mode” dropped. Surrounded by what looked like a mosh-pit, Trav turned the crowd up and delivered a dope performance. The stage was covered with so many different lights as Travis hopped around the stage! Before he ended, Scott gave honor and respect to the late Aretha Franklin who passed away last week and also shouted out his No. 1 album.

Another interesting part of the show that did not necessarily leave a great taste in my mouth was the “tribute” to Aretha Franklin that was conducted by Madonna. Instead of paying pure tribute and honor to the Queen of Soul, it just seemed like a way for Madonna to talk about… Madonna. She started with some personal narratives about herself that took eons to even bring Aretha into them. While they were nice stories, I just didn’t see the point of it. I feel that MTV could have done their research and found some appropriate artists who would have torn the house down paying tribute to her. Instead, we had to settle for an awkward story that didn’t really connect with honestly anyone but Madonna.

The final notable performance of the night came from Post Malone, 21 Savage, and the legendary Aerosmith. Introduced by the iconic Lenny Kravitz, Posty and 21 set the tone with their hit, “Rockstar!” Very eerie, smoky and dramatic, Post Malone exuberated pure rockstar vibes from his outfit to his delivery. 21 kept it hood and smooth, while Posty gave us the ultimate rockstar that everyone already knew he was! As Post and 21 rose to the main stage,  the crowd went absolutely berserk when Malone brought out Aerosmith and became their guitarist and backup singer. Steven Tyler led them as they performed their classic rock hit, “Dream On.” He screeched to the top of his lungs and I literally just wanted to shake my head back and forth with my hands in the air! They then performed “Toys in the Attic.” The performance was just such an interesting way to end the show. It was unlike any of the other performances of the night. At age 70, Tyler showed the world he is still very much on the top of the Rock and Roll throne. Post Malone meshed well with the group and the collaboration will be something that will be discussed for years to come.

Overall, the show was solid. There were many good performances and highlights that could make the show much more memorable than last year’s show. It was entertaining and contained much humor. Some of the winners who won their awards were shocking to me and actually caught me off guard for sure. However, it was a good night and I can’t wait for the next show.

Here’s the list of all the winners from the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards via Billboard:

Video of the Year:
Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left to Cry”
Bruno Mars – “Finesse (Remix)” [ft. Cardi B] WINNER: Camila Cabello – “Havana” [ft. Young Thug]
The Carters – “APES**T”
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Drake – “God’s Plan”

Artist of the Year:
Ariana Grande
Bruno Mars
WINNER: Camila Cabello
Cardi B
Post Malone

Song of the Year:
Bruno Mars – “Finesse (Remix)” [ft. Cardi B] Camila Cabello – “Havana” [ft. Young Thug] Drake – “God’s Plan”
Dua Lipa – “New Rules”
Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”
WINNER: Post Malone – “rockstar” [ft. 21 Savage]

Best New Artist:
Chloe x Halle
Hayley Kiyoko
Lil Pump
Lil Uzi Vert

Best Collaboration:
Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line – “Meant to Be”
Bruno Mars – “Finesse (Remix)” [ft. Cardi B] The Carters – “APES**T”
WINNER: Jennifer Lopez – “Dinero” [ft. DJ Khaled & Cardi B]
Logic – “1-800-273-8255” [ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid] N.E.R.D – “Lemon” [ft. Rihanna]

Best Pop Video:
WINNER: Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left to Cry”
Camila Cabello – “Havana” [ft. Young Thug] Demi Lovato – “Sorry Not Sorry”
Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”
P!nk – “What About Us”
Shawn Mendes – “In My Blood”

Best Hip-Hop Video:
Cardi B – “Bartier Cardi” [ft. 21 Savage] The Carters – “APES**T”
Drake – “God’s Plan”
J. Cole – “ATM”
Migos – “Walk It Talk It” [ft. Drake] WINNER: Nicki Minaj – “Chun-Li”

Best Dance Video:
WINNER: Avicii – “Lonely Together” [ft. Rita Ora]
Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – “One Kiss”
The Chainsmokers – “Everybody Hates Me”
David Guetta & Sia – “Flames”
Marshmello – “Silence” [ft. Khalid] Zedd & Liam Payne – “Get Low (Street Video)”

Best Latin Video:
Daddy Yankee – “Dura”
WINNER: J Balvin – “Mi Gente” [ft. Willy William]
Jennifer Lopez – “Dinero” [ft. DJ Khaled & Cardi B] Luis Fonsi – “Échame La Culpa” [ft. Demi Lovato] Maluma – “Felices los 4”
Shakira – “Chantaje” [ft. Maluma]

Best Rock Video:
Fall Out Boy – “Champion”
Foo Fighters – “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”
WINNER: Imagine Dragons – “Whatever It Takes”
Linkin Park – “One More Light”
Panic! at the Disco – “Say Amen (Saturday Night)”
Thirty Seconds to Mars – “Walk On Water”

Video With a Message:
WINNER: Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Dej Loaf and Leon Bridges – “Liberated”
Drake – “God’s Plan”
Janelle Monáe – “PYNK”
Jessie Reyez – “Gatekeeper”
Logic – “1-800-273-8255” [ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid]

Best Cinematography:
Alessia Cara – “Growing Pains”
Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left to Cry”
WINNER: The Carters – “APES**T”
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Eminem – “River” [ft. Ed Sheeran] Shawn Mendes – “In My Blood”

Best Direction:
The Carters – “APES**T”
WINNER: Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Drake – “God’s Plan”
Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”
Justin Timberlake – “Say Something” [ft. Chris Stapleton] Shawn Mendes – “In My Blood”

Best Art Direction:
WINNER: The Carters – “APES**T”
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
J. Cole – “ATM”
Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”
SZA – “The Weekend”
Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

Best Visual Effects:
Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left to Cry”
Avicii ft. Rita Ora – “Lonely Together”
Eminem – “Walk On Water” [ft. Beyoncé] WINNER: Kendrick Lamar & SZA – “All The Stars”
Maroon 5 – “Wait”
Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

Best Choreography:
Bruno Mars – “Finesse (Remix)” [ft. Cardi B] Camila Cabello – “Havana” [ft. Young Thug] The Carters – “APES**T”
WINNER: Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Dua Lipa – “IDGAF”
Justin Timberlake – “Filthy”

Best Editing:
Bruno Mars – “Finesse (Remix)” [ft. Cardi B] The Carters – “APES**T”
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”
WINNER: N.E.R.D – “Lemon” [ft. Rihanna]
Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

Push Artist of the Year:
July 2018 – Chloe x Halle
June 2018 – Sigrid
May 2018 – Lil Xan
WINNER: April 2018 – Hayley Kiyoko
March 2018 – Jessie Reyez
February 2018 – Tee Grizzley
January 2018 – Bishop Briggs
December 2017 – Grace VanderWaal
November 2017 – Why Don’t We
October 2017 – PRETTYMUCH
September 2017 – SZA
August 2017 – Kacy Hill
July 2017 – Khalid
June 2017 – Kyle
May 2017 – Noah Cyrus

Song of Summer:
Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – “One Kiss”
WINNER: Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – “I Like It”
DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper & Quavo – “No Brainer”
Drake – “In My Feelings”
Ella Mai – “Boo’d Up”
Juice WRLD – “Lucid Dreams”
Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B – “Girls Like You”
Post Malone – “Better Now”