Press release from MTV, Aug. 30, 2015:
Kanye West accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in a 13-minute speech in which he reflected on his life and work, artistry and consumer culture, not to mention his at times tenuous relationship with award shows. Upon receiving the award from Taylor Swift, West expressed regret at crashing the stage during the 2009 “MTV Video Music Awards,” but remained defiant in his defense of artists. Then he declared his intention to run for President in 2020.
Taylor Swift won four Moonmen, including “Video of the Year” for her sci-feminist epic “Bad Blood,” at the 2015 “MTV Video Music Awards,” emerging as the evening’s big winner. Swift also won “Best Female Video” for “Blank Space” and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars took home “Best Male Video” for their infectious hit “Uptown Funk.”
The 2015 “MTV Video Music Awards” aired live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, with several of the performances emanating from the VMAs Downtown Los Angeles stage presented by Pepsi outside the iconic Orpheum Theatre. Host Miley Cyrus delivered a raunchy rainbow spectacle dripping in glitter, wild outfit changes, and hilarious skits featuring the likes of Andy Samberg and Snoop Dogg.
Nicki Minaj opened the show perched atop a throne sculpted of backup dancers to tear through banger “Trini Dem Girls.” Minaj then segued into her soaring single “The Night Is Still Young” and, though indeed it still was, the surprises started early. Taylor Swift unexpectedly emerged from below the stage to join Minaj for the performance in an epic, chill-inducing squashing of beef.
With the audience still reeling, the show kicked over to the Orpheum Theatre where Macklemore and Ryan Lewis fired up their newly dropped single, “Downtown.” Macklemore marched up South Broadway with a b-boy crew that included hip hop progenitors Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel. As they took to the stage, flamboyant Foxy Shazam frontman Eric Nally arrived in an eagle head chariot to belt out the track’s hands-in-the-air chorus.
The Weeknd performed a muscular, funky version of hit “Can’t Feel My Face” while bathed in red light. The Canadian artist shuffled around the stage before settling into a ring of fire that blazed up from the floor below and rotated around him.
Demi Lovato also played the block party, slinking through her summer jam “Cool for the Summer” under the setting L.A. sun. Lovato and her team of dancers strutted the stage amidst oversized beach umbrellas and sparkling, floating cherries. In another big surprise, Iggy Azalea rose from below the action to spit a few bars during the song’s bridge. Lovato concluded by boarding an inflatable raft and surfing out into the crowd, as confetti flew upward and the camera zoomed down from high above the street.
In one of the show’s most anticipated moments, Justin Bieber’s triumphant return rose to new heights as he took flight above the crowd to punctuate a medley of his hit Jack Ücollab, “Where Are Ü Now” and newly released single “What Do You Mean?” After a dramatic solo entrance in silhouette, Bieber blazed through the tracks and some tight choreography before the room went black, and the star reemerged in a single cone of light to fly high above the stage.Bieber returned to the ground winded and moved to tears.
Singer and songwriter Tori Kelly strapped on an electric guitar to shred through an amped up version of her hit single “Should’ve Been Us.” Kelly ended the performance with an acapella rendition of the song’s soaring refrain, her soulful voice filling the theater on its own.
Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky joined for a high-energy mashup of TøP’s “Heavy Dirty Soul” and “Lane Boy” and the Harlem rapper’s “M’$.” A$AP and Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph stalked the stage as multi-colored lasers fired above their heads and confetti shot into the air on the their flanks.
For the final performance from the downtown block party, Pharrell Williams gave an explosive performance of his emancipation anthem “Freedom” under the night sky. Williams open with a spoken word freestyle before being joined by a troupe of dancers, who ripped through a routine of throwback dance moves that matched the retro-swing of the track. The performance concluded with a single firework shooting into the air about Broadway.
In a surprise performance, host Miley Cyrus closed the show with psych rock legends The Flaming Lips for her beautifully bizarre new track, “DOO It,” which invokes love, peace, the universe, flying saucers, and weed. Cyrus emerged from an LED screen projecting extreme close ups of her glitter and sprinkle-smeared mouth, and was followed close behind by a brigade of drag queens in fluorescent unitards reminiscent of “H.R. Pufnstuf.” In a stunning turn of synergy, many of the girls were veterans of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the hit series on MTV’s sister network, Logo.
Jesse Ignjatovic/Den of Thieves is the Executive Producer for the 2015 “MTV Video Music Awards.” Van Toffler, Stephen Friedman, Amy Doyle and Garrett English are Executive Producers. Garrett English also serves as Executive In Charge of Production for MTV. Joanna Bomberg, Jen Jones and Lee Lodge are Co-Executive Producers. Hamish Hamilton is Director. Wendy Plaut is Celebrity Talent Executive.