Brutally honest reviews of every MTV VMA performance, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anitta

From Madonna glamming up in Versailles to Beyoncé’s baby bump reveal, the MTV Video Music Awards never shied away from intense drama.

The fireworks continued at Sunday’s show in Newark, New Jersey. Despite a less star-studded lineup than previous years, the telecast still featured memorable performances from A-list musicians including Lizzo, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers and J Balvin. Meanwhile, five-time VMA winner Nicki Minaj celebrated her Video Vanguard award with a career-spanning medley of her biggest hits.

As artists take the Prudential Center stage throughout the night, here are our live reviews of the best and worst shows:

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Panic! At the Disco, “Don’t let the light go out”

Brendon Urie’s unmistakable voice was on display on ‘Don’t Let the Light Go Out’ as the frontman looked straight into the camera before jamming with his band on the bonnet of a car. Fireworks lit up the stage as the show went from black and white to color, making for a truly thrilling climax to this year’s VMAs.

Anita

Anitta, “Envolve”

Anitta, who won Best Latin for her viral hit “Envolver,” is quickly proving why she’s one of the fastest rising stars in the US right now. Descending a white staircase in a lacy red leotard, the Brazilian singer took on a personality as she led her dancers through some steamy, then joyful choreography.

Damiano David of Måneskin

Damiano David of Måneskin

Måneskin, “Supermodel”

Wait, what happened here? Glam rock up-and-comers Måneskin were midway through their fiery rendition of “Supermodel” when the camera cut away from the band for nearly half the song, only returning to focus at the end. Did a camera operator make a big mistake? Or was there a wardrobe malfunction for singer Damiano David, who flashed his bare bum to the audience while rocking leather handbags? No matter what happened, Måneskin definitely has our attention.

Kane Brown

Kane Brown

Kane Brown, “Grand”

On Sunday, Kane Brown became the first male country singer to ever perform at the VMAs. Bathed in green and blue neon lights on an outdoor stage, the 28-year-old crossover artist made every moment count as he sang a glowing rendition of “Grand,” his folk anthem about appreciating the big and small things in life.

Anthony Kiedis, Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Anthony Kiedis, Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Black Summer” and “Can’t Stop”

Sometimes, all you need are instruments and a stage. Red Hot Chili Peppers heralded every bell and whistle for their VMAs performance, putting their unparalleled musicianship front and center as they blasted their way through new song ‘Black Summer’ and set list staple ‘Can’t Stop’. The veteran rockers, who picked up the Global Icon Award, were the epitome of cool in red fishnet shirts and tall yellow socks, with pink-haired bassist Flea earning screams as he cheekily gyrated during the electrifying intro of ‘Can’t Stop “.

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Eminem (left) and Snoop Dogg

Eminem (left) and Snoop Dogg

Eminem and Snoop Dogg, “From the D 2 the LBC”

Two rap icons, taking the VMAs stage together for the first time in two decades. It should have been an instant highlight of this year’s show – but instead, Eminem and Snoop Dogg’s rendition of “From the D 2 the LBC” was lost in the metaverse. The hip-hop stars used Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs for the cover and music video of their new collaboration and took the stage for most of Sunday’s ‘show’ as their monkey idols lounged inside a large pinball machine and a spider web. other computer-generated locales. It wasn’t until the end of the song that it finally came alive, as Eminem and Snoop “woke up” on a couch on stage and finished the track in person. Props to trying something different, but maybe keep your NFT away from our MTV next time.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj, Video Vanguard Composite Award

And that’s why she’s still today’s queen of rap. As the recipient of this year’s Video Vanguard Award, which honors an artist’s impact on music videos and pop culture, Nicki Minaj belted out nearly a dozen of her most recognizable songs in a stunning pink and purple dress with a giant bow. After a very rushed start that didn’t give her career-spanning verse “Monster” the duet, the rapper fell into a groove with crowd favorites “Moment 4 Life” and “Super Bass” as she shimmied and kneed her way through Barbie. Dreamhouse inspired scene. He finished the set with a lively and fun take on Rick James’ No. 1 single “Super Freaky Girl,” a summer-worthy song if ever we heard one.

The Most Outrageous MTV VMA Moments of All Time: From Britney Spears’ snake to Lady Gaga’s meat dress

Khalid and Marshmello

Khalid and Marshmello

Marshmello and Khalid, “Numb”

Khalid’s silky vocals were characteristically flawless as he and electronic artist Marshmello took the stage to perform the upbeat team-up “Numb,” their second collaboration since 2017’s “Silence.” Wish we could see what was going on : Due to a psychedelic camera filter, much of the rendering was extremely blurry and out of focus, with many viewers complain on Twitter that it made them dizzy.

Black pink

Black pink

Blackpink, “Pink Venom”

The K-pop quartet made their VMAs debut in spectacular style, emerging from a cloud of pink smoke to perform their latest single “Pink Venom.” Dressed in all black and flanked by backup dancers, the girl group expertly performed tight choreography that was as full and sultry as the song’s lyrics.

Ryan Castro (left) and J Balvin

Ryan Castro (left) and J Balvin

J Balvin and Ryan Castro, “Nivel de Perreo”

The Colombian superstars took over the early-night telecast for an extreme rendition of their collaboration ‘Nivel de Perreo’, backed by a line of faceless, latex-clad backup dancers straight out of ‘American Horror Story’. But the real scene-stealer was a projection of a giant, silver woman in a bikini, who brought the reality of “Jack and the Beanstalk” to the VMAs as she twerked and towered over the crowd for the entire three minutes of the song.

Lizzo

Lizzo

Lizzo, “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)”

After singing a few bars of her infectious No. 1 hit ‘About Damn Time,’ Lizzo channeled Tom Hanks around 1988’s ‘Big’: playing a light-up floor piano with her feet as she launched into her high-energy new single ‘2 Be loved (I’m ready).” It was hard not to get carried away by the genre-busting artist’s genuine enthusiasm, particularly as she danced in a bubblegum pink ensemble against a backdrop of dozens of miniature Lizzos. We only wish she had made better use of the set-up, as she hung towards the back of the stage for most of the show and was often enveloped by the massive wall of projections behind her.

Jack Harlow and Fergie

Jack Harlow and Fergie

Jack Harlow and Fergie, “First Class”

Since his first hit last summer with Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” Jack Harlow delivered an instant classic VMA performance. Dressed as a flight attendant, the suave rapper walked down the aisle of a plane as he performed his chart-topper “First Class,” playfully interacting with “passengers” including Avril Lavigne along the way. He then made his way to the Prudential Center stage, revealing surprise guest Fergie, whose 2007 hit “Glamorous” featured heavily on the track. The screaming crowd – which included several cuts to Taylor Swift – happily rode the nostalgia high, with Fergie and Harlow their effortlessly charismatic captains.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: VMAs 2022: Best, worst performances, including Anitta, Blackpink

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