The 2020 VMAs Were Virtual and It Was Like MTV Started Playing Music Videos Again

Keke Palmer at the 2020 Video Music Awards
Keke Palmer at the 2020 Video Music Awards
Photo: Getty Images via MTV (Getty Images)

It’s time for yet another awards ceremony with a virtual stage! This time, it’s MTV’s biggest night for music—the Video Music Awards (VMAs)!

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The actual ceremony as a whole was pretty—er—white, but here’s a Black-ass fact: Keke Palmer was the first-ever Black woman to host the VMAs solo! The first VMAs debuted in 1984, so you do the math at how long it took for this to happen. Plus, a Black woman hasn’t hosted since OG MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown co-hosted in 1986 and 1987.

Keke opened Sunday night’s show by dedicating the ceremony to the late Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday due to complications from colon cancer.

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“We dedicate tonight’s show to the man whose spirit touched so many. He is a true hero, not just onscreen but in everything he did. His impact lives forever,” she said.

Keke also used the platform to speak against police brutality, noting, “We can never tolerate police brutality or any injustice. We must continue the fight to end systemic racism.”

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Speaking of using the platform to speak out against social injustice, The Weeknd did the same when he accepted his awards for Video of the Year and Best R&B video (“Blinding Lights”).

“It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment, so I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” the artist mused.

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DaBaby continued the social justice spotlight via his performance as well, similar to his BET Awards performance.

Going virtual actually gave most fans a feel as if they were watching music videos again (even though, unlike its cousin BET, this ceremony added audience sound effects), which has long been a point of contention for the network that is an acronym where the first letter stands for “Music.”

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One particular performance highlight was the unmatched Chloe x Halle, who continuously raise the bar when it comes to taking the virtual stage. The talented pair of sisters performed their album’s titular track, “Ungodly Hour.” It’s really like each of their virtual performances is a different music video!

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Oh, and Keke wasn’t just slaying her hosting duties, she hit the virtual stage too, performing her own song, “Snack.”

Keke Palmer performs “Snack” / YouTube

Last, but not least, the winners! Megan Thee Stallion popped a celebratory bottle for her second moon man on Instagram. The rapper won for Best Hip Hop song for “Savage.

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Doja Cat won Best New Artist and performed on the virtual stage, as well. H.E.R. took home the Video For Good award, for her song “I Can’t Breathe.” Plus, there was a special Everyday Heroes: Frontline Medical Workers award presented to workers who used social media as a platform to post videos of themselves singing uplifting songs, including Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson (“Imagine”), Dr. Nate Wood (“Lean On Me”), Jefferson University Hospital’s Swab Squad (“Level Up”), Jason ‘Tik Tok Doc’ Campbell and Lori Marie Key (“Amazing Grace”).

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For the full list of winners at the 2020 VMAs, head to mtv.com.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

On a whim, I watched, and I was not unamused! Keke was fun and irreverent, Gaga was omnipresent, and social justice was brought up meaningfully throughout. Gaga kept reminding people to wear masks, which was appreciated.

As a gay, of course I am contractually obligated to be happy for Gaga, which I was, but controversy aside, I think I enjoyed Doja Cat’s performance more. Miley’s minimalistic performance was good, and I just was not ready for the glam of BTS, but have been bopping that song for a while.

Thought it was cool that The Weeknd performed atop Hudson Yards, but I must say, Da Baby must work on his “live” performances. Overall, a good show, and I would highly recommend that Keke host again. MTV might even wanna play a video or two again also.