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Video Vanguard award winner Jennifer Lopez performs at the VMAs in New York. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

By Emily Yahr , Reporter

The MTV Video Music Awards show is known for drama — but aside from one seriously weird Aretha Franklin tribute from Madonna, this year’s ceremony was actually pretty tame. Even the feud between Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott didn’t result in any on-screen awkwardness.

If you didn’t catch the 2½-hour telecast Monday night, here are all the highlights you need to know. (A complete list of winners and nominees is below.)

1) That Madonna speech.

Madonna apparently missed the memo that when you honor someone . . . you have to talk about them more than you talk about yourself. That did not happen during the pop star’s tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, as she went on about her own career struggles and triumphs, while her few mentions of the Queen of Soul looked like an afterthought. Read more about it here.

2) Plenty of footage of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson.

Did you know that pop star Ariana Grande and “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson are in love? If this fact somehow escaped you this summer, you would have no doubts after their PDA at the VMAs. Still acting like two crazy kids who got engaged after dating for three weeks, they were all over each other on the red carpet and cuddled together in their seats. The camera crew noticed, and made sure to get lots of reaction shots.

“Pete Davidson, thanks for existing,” Grande said when she accepted the award for best pop video. “Love you.”

Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande attend the VMAs. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV)

3) Cardi B’s return to the spotlight.

The breakout rap star — nominated for 10 VMAs, the most of any artist — returned to the spotlight for the first time since the birth of her daughter, Kulture. After opening the show with a bit where she carried a VMAs trophy in a baby blanket, she also accepted the prize for best new artist.

“I am so happy to receive this award!” Cardi B said. “A couple of months ago, a lot of people were saying, ‘You are gambling your career. You about to have a baby, what are you doing?’ You know, I had a baby, I carried a baby. And now I am still winning awards.”

Cardi B kicks off the VMAs. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for MTV)

4) Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish’s monologue got slightly political. 

Though there weren’t any actual VMAs hosts, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish (co-stars of the new movie “Night School”) took on the monologue at the beginning of the show.

“We are live coast to coast right now. I’m looking at this like it’s game day, people. But do not worry, cause at this game, you guys are allowed to kneel,” Hart said. “You can do whatever the hell you want. There’s no old white man that can stop you.”

With the NFL zinger out of the way, they moved on to jokes about DJ Khaled, “Jersey Shore” and singers who have face tattoos. Then Haddish drew gasps when she took aim at Fifth Harmony, the pop group from which Camila Cabello had a very chilly departure.

“[Camila] is nominated for five VMAs tonight. I’m super proud of her,” Haddish said. “So those of you watching at home: hi, Fifth Harmony!”

“Ohhhh,” said the audience. Cabello just shook her head.

“Tiffany went there. Oh God, that just happened. See, you never know what’s gonna happen at the VMAs,” Hart said. “I mean, beefs pop off, bad language, people run to the bathroom and send out crazy tweets — it’s basically like your typical day at the White House. In your face, [President] Trump, suck it!”

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish during their monologue. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

5) Nicki Minaj did not address her tweetstorm.

The rapper was very upset that her new album, “Queen,” landed at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, behind Travis Scott’s “Astroworld.” In a long string of tweets, she blamed Spotify, Apple Music, the media, and Scott’s perceived unfair advantage because his girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, promoted the album to her millions of followers.

However, this did not come up at the VMAs. When Minaj won best hip-hop video, she thanked her fans and all the artists who made cameos on the album. She also defended Fifth Harmony and group member Normani Kordei from Haddish’s dig: “Don’t be coming for Fifth Harmony, because Normani is that b—-.”

Later, Minaj performed a medley of songs (“Majesty,” “Barbie Dreams,” “Ganja Burn,” “FEFE”) amid lots of gold backup dancers.

Full performance de @NICKIMINAJ en los #VMAs pic.twitter.com/YIz5YGKhvQ

— Nicki Minaj Argentina (@NickiMinajArg_) August 21, 2018

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish present an award to Nicki Minaj for best hip-hop video. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

6) Logic and Ryan Tedder.

In the most political moment of the night, Logic (performing “One Day,” accompanied by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder) had a U.S. Border Patrol image behind him on a giant screen. They brought kids onstage, whose T-shirts read, “We are all human beings.” Logic also wore a T-shirt extremely critical of Trump’s border-wall plan. At the end, everyone held up candles.

Ryan Tedder of One Republic and Logic perform. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

7) The Jennifer Lopez medley.

As the recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, J-Lo earned a career retrospective, and she delivered with a killer medley — the first set of songs included “Waiting for Tonight,” “On the Floor,” “Dance Again,” “Ain’t Your Mama,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Get Right.”

Then, as she shrugged on a massive fur coat, she segued into “All I Have,” followed by “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny,” with a guest appearance by Ja Rule, of course.

Jennifer Lopez & Ja Rule reunited at the #VMAs to perform their hits “I’m Real” & “Ain’t it Funny” #Jlo #JaRule pic.twitter.com/04TBAoQWoC

— BroTalk Live (@brotalklive) August 21, 2018

She ended with “Dinero,” her collaboration with DJ Khaled and Cardi B. Khaled yelled his usual encouragement in the background: “J-Lo! Jenny from the Block! New York! VMAs! Put your hands up!”

Afterward, J-Lo gave an emotional speech about going from the Bronx to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars: “I grew up on MTV, and this is really a tremendous honor for me,” she said. “It has been an incredible journey of dreaming my wildest dreams and then kind of watching them come true.”

She teared up when she talked about her kids (“it wasn’t until I had two little angels come into my life that everything changed”) and her boyfriend, Alex Rodriguez: “You are like my twin soul. We are like mirror images of each other. My life is sweeter and better with you in it.”

Video Vanguard award winner Jennifer Lopez performs at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

A-Rod is J-Lo’s No. 1 fan on the VMAs red carpet. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

8) Travis Scott.

The rapper performed “Stargazing,” “Stop Trying to Be God” and “Sicko Mode,” with Kylie Jenner politely bopping along in the audience. At the end, he gave a shout-out: “Rest in peace, Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin!”

And in case anyone didn’t know, he added, “‘Astroworld’ number one right now!”

Travis Scott performs at the VMAs. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for MTV)

9) Camila Cabello won the night’s most coveted prize. 

No one really cares about the VMA categories — except for video of the year. In a surprise victory, it went to Cabello for her ultra-catchy “Havana,” as she won over Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Drake, Childish Gambino and more. (Unlike social media, Cabello was thrilled to accept her award from Madonna.)

“I am fully aware that you never know when you’re gonna get a moment like this again. You never know when it’s gonna be your last time on this stage,” Cabello said, as she addressed her fans: “You guys have been here for me since the beginning, and I’m gonna be here for you till the very end. I love you so much.”

Camila Cabello accepts the video of the year award for “Havana,” next to Madonna. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

10) Post Malone and Aerosmith.

To close the show, they collaborated for “Dream On” and “Toys in the Attic.” No, we don’t really get it, either.

Steven Tyler, left, of Aerosmith, and Post Malone. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Complete list of winners and nominees

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Ariana Grande — “No Tears Left to Cry”

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”

Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug — “Havana” (winner)

The Carters — “APES**T”

Childish Gambino — “This Is America”

Drake — “God’s Plan”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Ariana Grande

Bruno Mars

Camila Cabello (winner)

Cardi B

Drake

Post Malone

BEST NEW ARTIST 

Bazzi

Cardi B (winner)

Chloe x Halle

Hayley Kiyoko

Lil Pump

Lil Uzi Verts

BEST COLLABORATION

Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line — “Meant to Be”

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”

The Carters — “APES**T”

Jennifer Lopez ft. DJ Khaled & Cardi B — “Dinero” (winner)

Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid — “1-800-273-8255”

N.E.R.D & Rihanna — “Lemon”

VIDEO WITH A MESSAGE

Childish Gambino — “This Is America” (winner)

Dej Loaf and Leon Bridges — “Liberated”

Drake — ‘God’s Plan”

Janelle Monáe — “PYNK”

Jessie Reyez — “Gatekeeper”

Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid — “1-800-273-8255”

BEST HIP HOP

Cardi B ft. 21 Savage — “Bartier Cardi”

The Carters — “APES**T”

Drake — “God’s Plan”

J. Cole — “ATM”

Migos ft. Drake — “Walk It Talk It”

Nicki Minaj — “Chun-Li” (winner)

BEST POP

Ariana Grande — “No Tears Left to Cry” (winner)

Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug — “Havana”

Demi Lovato — “Sorry Not Sorry”

Ed Sheeran — “Perfect”

P!nk — “What About Us”

Shawn Mendes — “In My Blood”

SONG OF THE YEAR

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”

Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug — “Havana”

Drake — “God’s Plan”

Dua Lipa — “New Rules”

Ed Sheeran — “Perfect”

Post Malone ft. 21 Savage — “rockstar” (winner)

BEST LATIN

Daddy Yankee — “Dura”

J Balvin, Willy William — “Mi Gente” (winner)

Jennifer Lopez ft. DJ Khaled & Cardi B — “Dinero”

Luis Fonsi, Demi Lovato — “Échame La Culpa”

Maluma — “Felices los 4”

Shakira ft. Maluma — “Chantaje”

PUSH ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Chloe x Halle

Sigrid

Lil Xan

Hayley Kiyoko  (winner)

Jessie Reyez

Tee Grizzley

Bishop Briggs

Grace VanderWaal

Why Don’t We

PRETTYMUCH

SZA

Kacy Hill

Khalid

Kyle

Noah Cyrus

BEST DANCE

Avicii ft. Rita Ora — “Lonely Together” (winner)

Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa — “One Kiss”

The Chainsmokers — “Everybody Hates Me”

David Guetta & Sia — “Flames”

Marshmello ft. Khalid — “Silence”

Zedd & Liam Payne — “Get Low (Street Video)”

BEST ROCK

Fall Out Boy — “Champion”

Foo Fighters — “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”

Imagine Dragons — “Whatever It Takes” (winner)

Linkin Park — “One More Light”

Panic! At The Disco — “Say Amen (Saturday Night)

Thirty Seconds to Mars — “Walk On Water”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Alessia Cara — “Growing Pains”

Ariana Grande — “No Tears Left to Cry”

The Carters — “APES**T” (winner)

Childish Gambino — “This Is America”

Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran — “River”

Shawn Mendes — “In My Blood”

BEST DIRECTION

The Carters — “APES**T”

Childish Gambino — “This Is America” (winner)

Drake — “God’s Plan”

Ed Sheeran — “Perfect”

Justin Timberlake ft. Chris Stapleton — “Say Something”

Shawn Mendes — “In My Blood”

BEST ART DIRECTION

The Carters — “APES**T” (winner)

Childish Gambino — “This Is America”

J. Cole — “ATM”

Janelle Monáe — “Make Me Feel”

SZA — “The Weekend”

Taylor Swift — “Look What You Made Me Do”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Ariana Grande — “No Tears Left to Cry

Avicii ft. Rita Ora — “Lonely Together”

Eminem ft. Beyoncé — “Walk On Water”

Kendrick Lamar & SZA — “All The Stars” (winner)

Maroon 5 — “Wait”

Taylor Swift — “Look What You Made Me Do”

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”

Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug — “Havana”

The Carters — “APES**T”

Childish Gambino — “This Is America” (winner)

Dua Lipa — “IDGAF”

Justin Timberlake — “Filthy”

BEST EDITING

Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B — “Finesse (Remix)”

The Carters — “APES**T”

Childish Gambino — “This Is America”

Janelle Monáe — “Make Me Feel”

N.E.R.D & Rihanna — “Lemon” (winner)

Taylor Swift — “Look What You Made Me Do”

Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/08/21/mtv-vmas-10-things-to-know-from-the-madonna-incident-to-the-ariana-grande-pete-davidson-lovefest/

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