When we heard that Miley Cyrus — yes, the same girl who twerked her way to infamy at the VMAs in 2013 — was hosting this year’s awards, we were warned that “there’s a chance for anything [to happen].” And the run-up to the show certainly teased the raucous event to come for the 2015 VMAs, complete with an ominously prophetic naked Cyrus selfie,
In retrospect, though, we’re pretty sure even the folks at MTV didn’t expect so many provocative moments (or maybe this was exactly what they were expecting): from Nicki Minaj throwing shade at Miley, and Justin Bieber breaking into tears post-performance to Kanye West announcing his 2020 presidency bid, there were plenty of reasons to gawk and tweet. Whether there were many quality musical moments, of course, is another topic altogether.
In any event, below we’ve highlighted 20 of the most memorable happenings at this year’s show. From the wild and bespectacled, to the just plain weird, if you missed out on the action, here’s an easy way to catch up on the ceremony that became a social media sensation.
Kanye announces that he’s running for president. (Yes, we’re serious.)
After relating to the struggles of millenials, Kanye talked about teaching kids to believe in themselves, and how it isn’t about him, but “people who believe in ideas.” Then the big reveal: “I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” Yes, that’s a thing now. (read his full speech here)
Taylor Swift debuts her somewhat controversial new music video for Wildest Dreams.
Well, T-Swift has now fulfilled her duties of recognizing the African safari. However, as many noted, while the video is cinematically gorgeous and features lions and romance, there are no black people in her African video.
Britney presenting (in a super-tight dress)
It’s good to see the 35-year-old diva on the national stage, and she looks great — but her jokes could use a little bit of help in the timing department.
Nicki Minaj brings Taylor Swift out for collaboration
While Miley was the host, the Shake It Off star needed her share of the limelight throughout the show too. After Minaj had previously called out Swift for getting a video of the year nom over her, the duo came together for Minaj’s The Night is Still Young and a teaser of Swift’s Bad Blood. The performance ended with a somewhat cringe-worthy hug.
Justin Bieber’s two new EDM-laced, electropop jams
Bieber’s back, guys, and the 21-year-old impressed with two club bangers: Where Are You Now and the new single What Do You Mean? We also saw him float upwards toward the ceiling and strut some dance moves.
Uptown Funk wins Best male video, Mark Ronson’s head-swaying dance
While Bruno Mars spewed some thank yous to his fans, producer (and primary musician) Ronson just stood back, bobbing his head. He probably should’ve spoken — it was his song, after all — but we’re down with his chill attitude about one of the biggest songs of the year.
Pitch Perfect‘s Rebel Wilson’s police stripper bit
There’s controversial — and then there’s simply odd. Presenting the award for Best Hip-Hop video, Wilson told the audience “I know a lot of people have problems with the police, but I hate police strippers.” Then, after stripping off her police uniform to reveal a F-ck Tha Stripper Police shirt, she said “I hired a police stripper for my grandmother’s 80th and he wouldn’t even feel her up. I hate this injustice, hence the shirt.” Wilson also performed a skit as part of the presentation.
Taylor wins Video of the Year for Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Swift for the win, which is probably the least surprising event of the night. That said, the Joseph Kahn-produced sci-fi adventure is well done. Judge for yourself above.
Nicki Minaj gives a shout-out to her pastor after winning Best Hip Hop video for Anaconda … then continues her beef with Miley
“Now back to this b-tch who had a lot to say to me in the press the other day,” Minaj scoffed. “Miley what’s good?”
Keep going to the next page, we swear it gets wilder — including Miley’s infamous clothing “malfunction.”
Bieber’s post-performance tear-fest on national TV
Because Bieber’s human too. (scrub to about 5:25)
Empire‘s Jussie Smollett and Serayah push for more social change while presenting the Video with a Social Message award
The actors acknowledged the success of the #blacklivesmatter campaign and the recent Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, but called on the audience to push for more before presenting the award to Big Sean for One Man Can Change the World. Kendrick Lamar’s anti-police violence video, Alright, was snubbed, not even receiving a nomination. It did win the VMA for Best Direction, though.
Snoop? You’re not my pig anymore!
In a skit — there were a few (mostly inane) ones featuring Miley — Snoop Dogg turns into a talking pig after the host eats a “magic brownie” made with help from her grandmother (?). Her “Pig Pig” raps Gin & Juice during her bad trip before she snaps out of it.
T-Swift presenting the Video Vanguard Award to Kanye West
After presenting the award, Swift said College Dropout was the first album she bought on iTunes when she was 12. It seems as though the two bffs have most definitely left their former beef over Kanye’s notorious interruption at the 2009 VMAs far in the rear view.
Kanye disses award shows in his 12-minute long acceptance speech
“I still don’t understand awards shows,” said Kanye West. “I don’t understand how they get five people who worked their entire life… sold records, sold concert tickets to come stand on the carpet and … be judged on the chopping block.”
Tori Kelly shows off her pipes with a performance of Should Have Been Us
She’ll probably be winning VMAs next year. The singer has big, soulful pipes to rival the best in pop.
Fetty Wap wins Best New Artist
The VMAs certainly got this one right, giving the NJ rapper his first Moonman. If you haven’t heard Trap Queen yet, you’re missing out on 2015’s song of the summer (although it did originally come out in 2014).
Miley (sort of) taking Minaj’s angry comments in stride
“I lost this award in 2008 and I was fine with it,” she said. “Whatever! Because it’s no big deal. It’s just an award and I persevered.”
Miley slips a nip (NSFW)
This was perhaps the second-least surprising event of the night (second only to Taylor’s win for best video). Only live viewers on the East Coast saw her free the nipple during the show, though, as MTV censored it by the time it screened on the West Coast. Go ahead and watch, you’ve earned it.
Miley performs two songs off of her surprise free album
It’s called Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, it was recorded with the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and it’s available now. The live performance was quite gaudy and messy, just like this year’s VMAs, but the recordings are worth a listen.
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