5 must-see performances from the 2020 MTV VMAs

From BTS and Miley Cyrus to Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande – these VMAs performances prove live music can thrive in 2020.


A global pandemic couldn’t stop the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards from taking place and for that, we’re grateful. The award show was held on August 30 in various locations across New York City, with the health and safety of all talent and crew being the main priority.

Keke Palmer hosted the event, using her platform to speak of the struggles and hopes emerging from 2020. Keke acknowledged the incredible health care workers on the frontline of COVID and the thousands of voices rising to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement and to fight systemic racism.

Keke also reflected on the power of music; a power and force that was evident in
each performance on the VMAs stage this year. From powerhouse vocals to electrifying production, these 5 performances from the 2020 VMAs are a must-watch.

1. Lady Gaga (feat. Ariana Grande)

“Mask up, be brave” was one of the messages Lady Gaga shared with fans during the nine-minute medley she performed on the VMAs stage. The captivating set highlighted the escapism and freedom that can be found in ‘Chromatica’, featuring songs including ‘911’, ‘Stupid Love’ and ‘Rain On Me’ – which blessed fans with an appearance from Ariana Grande.

From multiple costume changes and LED masks to seamless transitions, Lady Gaga’s VMAs performance proved the popstar constantly soars to new heights and is incredibly deserving of the first ‘MTV Tricon Award’, which was awarded to her during the ceremony.

2. BTS

In what must be one of the most explosive VMAs debuts in history, BTS took to the stage to perform their latest single, ‘Dynamite’. Their costumes were suave, their choreography was sophisticated and as always, mind-blowing, and ARMY continue to be in awe of the magic this group brings to every live performance.

BTS not only won over even more fans after lighting up the VMAs stage, they also won four awards, including ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Group’.

3. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus and the MTV VMAs are always an iconic pairing. The singer performed ‘Midnight Sky’ with confidence and authenticity, combined with an air of seduction as she was illuminated by neon red and blue lighting. Shining bright with the help of a glimmering disco ball, Miley referenced her anthem ‘Wrecking Ball’ as she closed the performance atop the prop. ‘Midnight Sky’ is empowering and the simplicity of this VMAs performance made the song feel even more electric and captivating.

4. The Weeknd

The Weeknd opened the 2020 VMAs with a theatrical performance of ‘Blinding Lights’ and naturally, it featured incredible lighting, production and an out-of-this-world location. Filmed on the rooftop of The Edge at Hudson Yards, the New York City skyline shines bright as The Weeknd performs in line with The Empire State Building and an array of fireworks. The combination of triangular architecture and powerful synth, a notable 80s influence on the track, created a futuristic quality to the performance. It doesn’t get bolder than this!

5. Doja Cat

If we can’t make it to ‘Chromatica’, we’re journeying to this pink, neon world that Doja Cat created on stage at the VMAs. Performing ‘Say So’ and ‘Like That’, Doja Cat’s vocals were a standout, along with her choreography, as she paid homage to the TikTok dance trend that saw ‘Say So’ become one of the most popular (and catchy) releases of the year. Once again, the production of the entire performance was enthralling and the perfect dose of escapism.

To see all of the performances from the 2020 VMAs and the VMAS pre-show, head over to MTV’s YouTube channel.

Which performance was your favourite? Let us know over on Twitter @unitedbypop

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