The 5 Most Outrageous, Entertaining Moments From the 2021 MTV VMAs

·3 min read

MTV’s Video Music Awards took place last night (in person, finally, after a modified version of the show was rolled out last year), celebrating its 40th anniversary. The night was full of stellar live performances, A+ red carpet looks, and that reliable hint of drama that takes any awards show from meh to unmissable. Below, find the five moments that stood out most from this year’s VMAs, from Madonna’s surprise appearance to Normani and Teyana Taylor’s chemistry-filled lap dance to Machine Gun Kelly’s red carpet almost-brawl (and more).

Madonna appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, to ring in the festivities.

You can’t throw an honest-to-goodness MTV party without the presence of Madonna, and deliver she did, clad in black leather and showing off her derriere while telling the audience, “Around 40 years ago, I came to New York City with nothing but $35 and a pair of dance shoes. I told the taxi driver to take me to the center of it all. He dropped me off in Times Square. I was 19 and terrified, but it was just the first step. I knew that someday, with a lot of hard work, I’d be known not just in New York City but all over the world.” Hey, she was right!

Lil Nas X winning video of the year and thanking “the gay agenda.”

Nobody’s had a year quite like Lil Nas X, who drew attention recently for his cheeky pregnancy announcement and continues to push the traditional boundaries of how male performers (and Black male artists in particular) are “supposed” to present themselves. In a moving speech, he thanked “the gay agenda,” sending a clear message that the homophobes out there can stay mad, because he really isn’t worried about it.

Olivia Rodrigo blowing everyone away live (and winning best new artist, among other accolades).

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, was the anthem of summer, even for those who—like myself—are probably too old to relate so hard to an 18-year-old, and she brought down the house, taking home five awards in total and absolutely crushing a live performance of “Good 4 U.”

Normani giving Teyana Taylor a Janet Jackson–inspired lap dance.

I can barely even talk about the sight of silver-clad Normani giving similarly silver-clad Teyana Taylor a lap dance in an homage to Janet Jackson during her performance of “Wild Side,” because, to be honest, my little gay heart is still recovering. Has there ever been more chemistry in any live performance? Not since Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage together at the Oscars, IMO.

Machine Gun Kelly almost getting into it with MMA fighter Conor McGregor on the red carpet.

The VMAs are often a magnet for high drama of one sort or another, but who could have predicted that it would be rapper and Megan Fox beau Machine Gun Kelly who was the source of it this year? He and MMA fighter Conor McGregor appeared to get into some sort of skirmish on the red carpet, and ultimately had to be separated. Are you men okay?

Originally Appeared on Vogue