The main show kicked off with Cardi B excitedly snagging Best Hip Hop, smoothly moved through first-time VMA winners Lil Nas X, the Jonas Brothers, and Billie Eilish collecting their dues, a slathering of wins for one Ariana Grande
Two heartfelt speeches from “You Need To Calm Down” collaborators Todrick Hall and Taylor Swift as they picked up Video for Good and Video of the Year.
Taylor Swift called out the White House after she won the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards’ top prize — video of the year — for her LGBTQ pride anthem, “You Need To Calm Down.”
The “Lover” songstress opened the show at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with a performance of the hit song. Swift was flanked by colorful dancers, then brought it back to her roots by bringing out her guitar to sing the title track of her new album “Lover.”
The words “Equality Act” were shown over the 29-year-old pop star’s performance, a reference to her support of the Equality Act legislation that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lizzo performed “Truth Hurts” and “Good As Hell” in front of a giant booty balloon. Lil Nas X performed his “Old Town Road” followup “Panini.”
While presenting Best Latin Music Video, Alison Brie and French Montana put a spotlight on immigration activism: “I’m so proud to pronounce this award because as an immigrant I feel like we are the people that make his country, and I feel like I want to be a voice,” Montana said.
Added Brie: “What’s happening to immigrants in this country is unconstitutional and frankly disgusting.”
Missy Elliott proved why she’s one of the best and innovative rappers of all time with an incredible medley of her most famous songs and music video looks from the black puffy bag dress for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” to camouflage for “Get Ur Freak On.”
“I’ve worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought I would be standing up here receiving this award,” Elliott said.
The 48-year-old game-changer also dedicated her award to the dance community and said her music video inspirations included Janet Jackson, Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Busta Rhymes.
She also honored the late R&B icon Aaliyah, whom she was close to and collaborated with, during her acceptance speech. The 18th anniversary of Aaliyah’s death was Sunday.
“Aaliyah, I love you. We miss you,” Elliott said.
Other impressive performers Monday included former Fifth Harmony member Normani, who won for best R&B video and brought her recently praised “Motivation” video to life thanks to her skilled dance moves; Spanish singer Rosalia, who also danced with precision and won best Latin and best choreography awards.
The VMAs, which took place in New Jersey for the first time, closed with a superb performance by artists who are from the Garden State — including Queen Latifah, Redman, Wyclef Jean, Naughty by Nature and Fetty Wap. Rapper-actor Ice-T, who has loudly represented the West Coast, introduced the performance and reminded the audience that he was born in Newark.
Here’s the complete list of winners of the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards:
— Video of the year: Taylor Swift, “You Need to Calm Down”
— Artist of the year: Ariana Grande
— Song of the year: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road (Remix)”
— Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award: Missy Elliott
— Best new artist: Billie Eilish
— Best collaboration: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, “Senorita”
— Best group: BTS
— Push artist of the year: Billie Eilish
— Best pop: Jonas Brothers, “Sucker”
— Best hip-hop: Cardi B, “Money”
— Best R&B: Normani featuring 6lack, “Waves”
— Best Latin: Rosalia and J Balvin featuring El Guincho, “Con Altura”
— Best dance: The Chainsmokers and Bebe Rexha, “Call You Mine”
— Best rock: Panic! at the Disco, “High Hopes”
— Best K-pop: BTS featuring Halsey, “Boy With Luv”
— Video for good: Taylor Swift, “You Need to Calm Down”
— Song of summer: Ariana Grande and Social House, “boyfriend”
— Best power anthem: Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, “Hot Girl Summer”
— Best direction: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road (Remix)”
— Best editing: Billie Eilish, “bad guy”
— Best visual effects: Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, “ME!”
— Best art direction: Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”
— Best choreography: Rosalia and J Balvin featuring El Guincho, “Con Altura”
— Best cinematography: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, “Senorita”
— Fashion Trailblazer Award: Marc Jacobs
Winners of the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards