Doja Cat exemplified the “host with the most” maxim at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, not only pulling double duty as MC and performer (she presented “Been Like This” and “You Right” from her new album “Planet Her” with an elegant display of sound and movement), but also cycling through a procession of wacky outfits. She was a winner, too, taking home a Moon Person for best collaboration. That moment, as well as memorable turns from Chlöe and Busta Rhymes, and an unexpected red carpet dustup involving Machine Gun Kelly and Conor McGregor, are among the 10 best moments of this year’s VMAs.
Doja Cat’s Outfits
Doja Cat wore a sleek black dress with a simple chain belt to open the awards, and things got exponentially crazier from there. Colors, fabrics and gravity had no limit when it came to the singer’s costume changes. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but the one she herself described as “a worm” — perhaps a nod to the sand worms in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming film “Dune?” — to accept her award for best collaboration for “Kiss Me More” with SZA, is certainly a contender.
That was until she emerged donning a bright red chair as a hat. The only thing more shocking was when removed the chair hat to sit on it. Chock full of puns, Doja cracked: “We need to cherish this moment.”
Or the moment that capped off the night when she literally dressed as a chicken. It wasn’t her first time at the farm — remember “Moo,” her breakthrough hit? — but it probably made one New York icon, Clara the Chicken of ’90s Club Kids fame, awfully proud.
Billie Eilish’s Thoughtful Words
Billie Eilish isn’t always known to make long acceptance speeches; instead, she packs power into each word. That was certainly the case when she accepted a “Video for Good” award for “Your Power.” Said the 19-year-old Eilish from the stage: “We need to protect our young women at all costs. We also need to remember that we all have power. And we have to remember not to abuse it.”
Chlöe Takes Us to Church
Chlöe of Chloe x Halle gave her debut solo performance at the VMAs, singing her new single, “Have Mercy.” Beginning with haunting vocals that matched her spooky red cape, Chlöe soon transformed into a pink corset bodysuit and executed some red-hot choreography. The performance even included a dance break, during which Chlöe proved she has the chops to be a true triple threat. She then left it all on the floor — literally — by ending the performance on the ground, somehow still hitting all of the notes while rolling around.
Machine Gun Kelly and Conor McGregor Brawl
It wouldn’t be the VMAs without a little red carpet drama, and this year’s dosage came in the form of rapper-turned-emo rocker Machine Gun Kelly and UFC champion Conor McGregor, the latter of whom was there to present the artist of the year award to Justin Bieber. The two got into an altercation on the red carpet in front of dozens of media reporters and photographers, with McGregor allegedly throwing his drink at Kelly. When Variety caught Kelly on the red carpet later and asked him about it, he refused to answer, instead hitting the microphone. This is a developing story…
Normani and Teyana Taylor Show Their “Wild Side”
Yet another show-stopping performance came courtesy of Normani and Teyana Taylor, who lit the stage on fire with a raunchy rendition of Normani’s “Wild Side.” Clad in all futuristic silver, Normani performed the song with help from over a dozen dancers who meticulously doubled hers and the music video’s highly choreographed moves. Amping the sexiness to 11, after Normani nailed the song’s last few upper octave tones, Taylor was rolled onstage in a BDSM-esque contraption and Normani climbed on top.
Ozuna Lets the Bears Out
Latin star Ozuna performed his song “La Funka” dressed head-to-toe in rose gold sparkles. In a cutesy touch, his backup dancers were life-sized teddy bears, and a giant claw reached down every so often, threatening to pull one of them up into the sky. The performance brought a fun, youthful energy to the VMAs, encouraging the crowd to let loose and embrace their inner kid.
Foo Fighters Honor the Stones
Billie Eilish presented Foo Fighters with this year’s Global Icon award, and accordingly the band performed a medley of some of their greatest hits. In a touching gesture, drummer Taylor Hawkins’ bass drum spelled out “Charlie RIP,” in honor of the Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, who died on Aug. 24. Foo Fighters played a medly of hits spanning their 26 years together, including “Learn to Fly,” “Shame Shame” and the classic “Everlong,” which charted earlier this week for the first time since 1997. The band’s icon status was no better solidified than when the camera panned to Olivia Rodrigo in the crowd, who was yelling along to Dave Grohl’s lyrics.
Busta Rhymes Big Ups Brooklyn
Joined onstage by Spliff Star, Busta Rhymes performed a jam-packed medley of some of his biggest hits, bringing a hometown pride to the Brooklyn-set show. The pair donned matching red-and-white looks — with Rhymes rocking a bucket hat as well — and flew through “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” remix, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario,” “Touch It,” Rhymes’ iconic verse on Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” and lastly, “Pass the Courvoisier.”
Olivia Rodrigo Bests Kid Laroi
After crushing a performance of her punk-pop hit “Good 4 U,” Olivia Rodrigo’s victory lap continued when she took home the award for best new artist, beating the Kid Laroi for the honor in a fan vote. Humbled, Rodrigo said during her acceptance speech: “I want to thank Laroi also, who inspires me every day to be a better artist. I love him so much. I just feel so grateful that I get to write music and make stuff that I love and call it my job.”
“I just feel so grateful that I get to write music and make stuff that I love.”
— MTV (@MTV) September 13, 2021
Lil Nas X’s On-Point Victory Speech
Lil Nas X, who delivered arguably the most talked-about visual in years with “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” deservingly won the video of the year award at the end of the night. For his victory speech, Nas poked fun at the haters, declaring: “First, I want to say thank you to the gay agenda! Thank you, gay agenda.” Equal parts pride and surprise were visible on his face as Nas held up his Moon Person, having solidified his place in MTV history.