They don’t call her Queen Bey for nothing.
Beyonce not only stole the show at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night with many of the world’s top female pop stars in attendance hustling for our attention, she used the moment to erase the cynical cloud around her family status with an adorable appearance by daughter Blue Ivy and doting husband Jay Z to finish off the night.
“MTV, welcome to my world,” Beyonce said near the top of her performance, and for the next 15 minutes it was a complete takeover.
The performance was mesmerizing television, from the seemingly endless medley of hits to the extended look at the adorable Blue Ivy, who wore a gold bow in her hair and clapped her hands and said, “Yea, Mommy,” after Jay Z carried her onstage while presenting her mother with MTV’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award.
Here’s a close up on the night’s most interesting moments. You know, the things we’ll be talking about this morning, for better or for worse:
Nicki All Night: Much of the focus prior to Beyonce’s arrival was on Nicki Minaj — and her booty. She helped open the show with a snake-themed performance of “Anaconda” that included a lot of attention on Minaj’s most jiggly asset. Then after what appeared to be an honest wardrobe malfunction during her subsequent team up with Ariana Grande and Jessie J — “We ran out of time getting the dress zipped up,” she said afterward — things got really booty-centric when she joined Usher on stage for “She Came to Give It to You.” Usher dropped to his knee while playing the bass after Minaj appeared on stage, then banged his head against her rear end in a new version of the bump. He leapt to his feet and gave her a smack before she walked away.
The Front Row: You’ve got to feel bad for Riff Raff. The Houston rapper arrived on the red carpet in a Lamborghini with Katy Perry in the passenger seat. But it was clear she was way more into Sam Smith, spending the night with the pop star’s arm draped over his shoulder. Other unexpected pairs who spent the night seated together along the front row included Taylor Swift and Lorde, who celebrated their friendship by dancing the night away together. Lorde even introduced Swift’s performance of “Shake It Off”: “On the surface, this next performer and I are nothing alike. She’s tall, blonde and doesn’t wear quite this much black. But we both base our art on the things that delight, terrify and confound us, and for that I’m grateful she exists.”
Sam Slays: Perry wasn’t the only attendee fixated on Smith. The VMAs have a reputation for over-the-top moments, and there were plenty. But the quiet, commanding performance of “Stay With Me” by the British singer drew the night’s first — and most sincere — standing ovation.
Serious Moments: The VMAs aren’t known for political statements, but some of Sunday’s most memorable moments came with messages. Common asked for a moment of silence to remember 18-year-old Michael Brown, killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri: “The people in Ferguson and St. Louis and communities across the country have used their voices to call for justice and change to let everyone know that each and every one of our lives matters.” The camera showed members of the crowd with heads bowed, including Snoop Dogg, who flashed a peace sign. Later, Miley Cyrus engineered her own powerful statement when she sent a homeless youth named Jesse to the stage to accept her video of the year award. He gave an impassioned speech asking viewers to help as Cyrus tearfully looked on. MTV also paid tribute to late actor-comedian Robin Williams with a short photo montage.
We Are Family: The tenor of the night changed when Beyonce took the stage and things got worshipful by the end of her set as she led a thousands-strong sing-along on “XO” that included most everyone giddily dancing. And she didn’t waste the moment, using it to bat away persistent rumours that her marriage is headed for divorce. “I am filled with so much gratitude,” Beyonce said as the crowd chanted her name. She turned to her family and said, “I just thank God for this moment. I love you all so much. Blue, I love you. My beloved, I love you.”