Ah, the MTV Video Music Awards: less embarrassing than the American Music Awards or the Billboard Music Awards, but way more embarrassing than the Grammys. It’s tempting to say that the VMAs are always a special night, though it’s not quite true—as much as we love moments like “Imma Let You Finish” and the Miley Twerking Incident, the VMAs often just come and go in a haze of glitter, earworms, and desperation.
Monday’s show fell in the latter category, ranging from scattered highlights—Missy, you absolute icon—to some real lows. Who was that host? Who let John Travolta in? And why was the show in New Jersey? From Taylor Swift’s opening number to Shawmila’s faux-grinding, let’s count down the winners and losers of the 2019 Video Music Awards.
Winners: Lizzo and Lil Nas X
The two buzziest artists of the year kicked off the VMAs by crushing the red carpet in their own predictably eye-catching ways. Lil Nas X opted for a glittery silver tux, while Lizzo went with … well, this:
But that was just the beginning in a night full of costume changes—that red tux! That purple dress!—and fan-favorite performances. Lizzo twerked in front of a giant butt, as God intended, and Lil Nas X did a full Tron-inspired dance routine to “Panini.” Not to mention the memeworthy moments, not the least of which included Lil Nas X’s whipping out a full scroll for his Song of the Year acceptance speech.
Sure, Lizzo may have lost Best New Artist to Billie Eilish, who didn’t show up, but Lizzo showed OUT, and that’s what counts.
Loser: Bachelor Nation
For weeks now, Bachelor Nation’s very own Tyler C. has been out and about with Gigi Hadid in New York, and hopes were high that he’d attend Monday night’s show with his new supermodel girlfriend. Those hopes got even higher when the seating chart revealed that a seat for a date was placed between Gigi and Bella—and earlier in the evening, Reality Steve fueled rumors that Tyler would be at the show.
(UPDATE): I misread the info I was given. Tyler will be with Gigi at the VMA afterparty, not attending the show with her. Sorry about that. https://t.co/7DxVLYKOO2— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) August 26, 2019
But alas! The only person sitting with Bella and Gigi was … Halsey. Not quite what Bachelor Nation was hoping for. Tyler did show up with Gigi at the VMA afterparty, so at least there’s that; it’s a win for a nice guy from Florida.
Winner: Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott received the Video Vanguard Award after an absurdly fun seven-minute performance—which was just enough time to remind us how much we do not deserve Missy Elliott.
Loser: The Host, Sebastian Maniscalco
The Chicago-born comedian decided to kick off the show by making fun of influencers (read the room, my guy) and going after audience members who may be offended by his humor. “If you feel triggered or offended, they’re providing a safe space backstage where you’ll get some stress balls and a blankie,” he said. It all went over about as well as you’d expect.
Imagine choosing this man to host when Cardi B is right there.
Winner: Queen Latifah
If there were an award for Best Audience Reactions, this year’s would skip right over Taylor Swift and go straight to Queen Latifah. She refused to sit down for Lizzo, bumped to Lil Nas X, and even grooved to Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift. Then she took the stage for the night’s finale medley with Wyclef Jean, Naughty by Nature, and Redman—and proved she’s still got it just like Missy.
Losers: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
Shawmila were losers before the night even began—from the cringey couple name to the weeks of seemingly forced PDA, the backlash peaked when Entertainment Tonight accidentally released a prewritten review of their VMAs performance of “Senorita.”
Winner: Travolta’s Ongoing Reputation As an Award Presenter
John Travolta mistaking Jade Jolie for Taylor Swift. DRAG RACE EXCELLENCE pic.twitter.com/zVLgsbHhD7— Joey Nolfi (@joeynolfi) August 27, 2019
Winner: Taylor Swift
It was quite the weekend for Taylor, whose new album, Lover, has already become the best-selling album of the year, also single-handedly restoring our faith in her as a pop star. She opened the VMAs with “You Need to Calm Down,” which was as brightly colored and slightly obnoxious as expected, but then slowed things down with her title single, “Lover.” Taylor is best when it’s just her and a guitar, and Monday’s show proved no different. She went on to win Video of the Year, 10 years after Kanye West ruined her VMAs acceptance speech for Best Female Video. He was not in attendance. That’s poetic justice if I’ve ever seen it.