The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards are a wrap, kids. This year’s VMAs gave the biggest big-ups to Beyoncé with the Video of the Year Moonman for the Melina Matsoukas–directed “Formation” and to Rihanna with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Drake made a surprise appearance to give his “Work” co-star, a.k.a. “someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old,” the statue (and a touching speech).
Bey was far and away the night’s biggest winner, numbers-wise. “Formation” took Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Choreography and Best Editing. “Hold Up” scored Best Female Video, while Lemonade won Breakthrough Long Form Video. Read the full winners’ list right here.
Some of the biggest 2016 VMA moments came courtesy of Yoncé’s stunningly long Lemonade medley, Rihanna’s four medley performances and Kanye West’s surprise premiere of his crazy-sexy “Fade” video, prefaced by shout-outs to his and Kim’s exes, Amber Rose and Ray J, in tandem with, yes, a Taylor Swift reference. Britney Spears triumphantly returned for the first time since her maligned 2007 performance
Rihanna came straight out to open the VMAs with a medley of “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Only Girl (In the World),” “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been.” It was awesomely long, but it closed without anything from 2016’s ANTI—only for us to hear she’d be back three more times. For deetz on it all—including the ridiculously epic finale—hit Bianca Gracie’s take on how it went down.
The VMAs stage also welcomed Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj for a very fitness-y rendition of “Side to Side,” Nick Jonas and Ty Dolla $ign doing “Bacon” outdoors with the Empire State Building glowing a couple blocks away, Future made his VMAs debut with “Fuck Up Some Commas” and Halsey and The Chainsmokers hitting a sexy, powerful performance of their No. 1 single “Closer.”
But everything shut down when Beyoncé did a five-song Lemonade medley that included her smashing a camera with a baseball bat in the true spirit of the visual album’s “Hold Up” segment. After a commercial break came Britney Spears, two days after the release of her ninth album, Glory. G-Eazy was also on hand for a sharp performance that ran through his and Brit’s “Make Me…” and his and Bebe Rexha’s “Me, Myself & I,” where Britney rocked the hook.
Presenters included Serena Williams (for Beyoncé), Michael Phelps (for Future), Kim Kardashian West (Britney), Tracee Ellis Ross (one of Rihanna’s go-rounds), Puff Daddy, Rita Ora, Jaden Smith, Fifth Harmony and Jimmy Fallon in character as Olympic douchebag Ryan Lochte. One of the night’s most fantastic bits came when the gold medal–winning U.S. Olympics gymnastic team’s Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian, and Laurie Hernandez (only Gabby Douglas couldn’t make it) gave Beyoncé the Moonman for Best Female Video (“Hold Up”).
Alicia Keys had her own stand-out moment when she presented a poem-turned-song in honor of the 53rd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Before the main event, DJ Khaled, Lizzo and Charlamagne tha God hosted pre-show had outdoor performances from Jidenna, Alessia Cara, Lukas Graham.