VMAS Showcased Award Shows in the Coronavirus Era



BTS performs at the VMAs on Aug. 30, 2020. The group performed virtually from South Korea with a New York themed background. Photo Courtesy of MTV.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, MTV was still able to successfully hold their Video Music Awards (VMAS) with major adjustments respecting CDC guidelines and ensuring the safety of the artists and their crews. The event aired live on Aug. 30 from New York, with most of its performances pre-recorded. This year’s host was actress Keke Palmer.

The night’s speeches and performances took place in multiple outside locations across New York, with small audiences if any. These and the pre-recorded performances and music videos replaced the originally planned program that was set to happen inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Palmer started off the show by giving a speech acknowledging recent tragedies in the US and honoring frontline medical workers during this pandemic.

“We’ve seen heroes go above and beyond,” Palmer said in her speech. “Whether they drive a delivery truck, work at a grocery store, or serve on the front lines at a hospital.” 

The socially-distanced show started off with a live performance from The Weeknd singing his hit single Blinding Lights from the top of a skyscraper in Manhattan. He was nominated for six VMAs, or “Moon Persons” that night and took home two, including Video of the Year. After thanking the creative directors of the Blinding Lights music video, The Weeknd honored victims of police brutality in his few minutes on stage. 

“It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment,” The Weeknd  said. “So I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor.”

K-Pop group BTS also appeared virtually all the way from Seoul with a New York themed performance of their first all-english, record breaking single Dynamite. This was the group’s first time performing at the VMAs, and although it was from afar it was a successful one as they won three awards, not including the one for Best Group they received during the pre-show.

The VMAs still found a way to showcase some artists’ outfits for the big night, with a modified version of the usual red carpet. Celebrities such as Doja Cat, Miley Cyrus, and Machine Gun Kelly showed off their looks in front of greenscreens at home or at MTV’s socially-distanced studio in NYC. Prior to MGK’s photoshoot at the studio, he gave his acceptance speech for his award in the Best Alternative category for his music video Bloody Valentine featuring his current girlfriend Megan Fox. 

“My inner scope team, John Jannet, all the homies that made it happen,” MGK thanked. “And my beautiful girlfriend, for lip syncing.” 

The VMAs were one of America’s first award shows since the Coronavirus lockdowns started and we are yet to see if other ceremonies like the Grammys, that had previously announced their  postponement, will decide to take on a similar approach.