Kanye West at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.

Kanye West accepts Michael Jackson video Vanguard Award in speech addressing artistry, media culture and presidential ambitions.

Kanye West accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards in a 13-minute speech in which he reflected on his life and work, artistry and consumer culture - not to mention his at times tenuous relationship with award shows. Upon receiving the award from Taylor Swift, West expressed regret at crashing the stage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but remained defiant in his defense of artists. Then he declared his intention to run for President in 2020…

Tune in to the primetime premiere of the MTV Video Music Awards on MTV Base (DStv channel 322) on Monday, 31 August at 19:00 WAT (pre-show) and 20:00 CAT (main show). 

Taylor Swift won four Moonmen, including Video of the Year for her sci-feminist epic Bad Blood at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, emerging as the evening’s big winner. Swift also won Best Female Video for Blank Space and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars took home Best Male Video for their infectious hit Uptown Funk

The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, with several of the performances emanating from the VMAs Downtown Los Angeles stage outside the iconic Orpheum Theatre. Host Miley Cyrus delivered a raunchy rainbow spectacle dripping in glitter, wild outfit changes, and hilarious skits featuring the likes of Andy Samberg and Snoop Dogg.

Nicki Minaj opened the show perched atop a throne sculpted of backup dancers to tear through banger Trini Dem Girls. Minaj then segued into her soaring single The Night is Still Young and, though indeed it still was, the surprises started early. Taylor Swift unexpectedly emerged from below the stage to join Minaj for the performance in an epic, chill-inducing squashing of beef.

With the audience still reeling, the show kicked over to the Orpheum Theatre where Macklemore and Ryan Lewis fired up their newly dropped single, Downtown. Macklemore marched up South Broadway with a b-boy crew that included hip hop progenitors Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel. As they took to the stage, flamboyant Foxy Shazam frontman Eric Nally arrived in an eagle head chariot to belt out the track’s hands-in-the-air chorus.

The Weeknd performed a muscular, funky version of hit Can’t Feel My Face while bathed in red light. The Canadian artist shuffled around the stage before settling into a ring of fire that blazed up from the floor below and rotated around him.

Demi Lovato also played the block party, slinking through her summer jam Cool for the Summer under the setting L.A. sun. Lovato and her team of dancers strutted the stage amid oversized beach umbrellas and sparkling, floating cherries. In another big surprise, Iggy Azalea rose from below the action to spit a few bars during the song’s bridge. Lovato concluded by boarding an inflatable raft and surfing out into the crowd, as confetti flew upward and the camera zoomed down from high above the street.

In one of the show’s most anticipated moments, Justin Bieber’s triumphant return rose to new heights as he took flight above the crowd to punctuate a medley of his hit Jack Ü collab, Where Are Ü Now? and newly released single What Do You Mean? After a dramatic solo entrance in silhouette, Bieber blazed through the tracks and some tight choreography before the room went black, and the star reemerged in a single cone of light to fly high above the stage. Bieber returned to the ground winded and moved to tears.

Singer and songwriter Tori Kelly strapped on an electric guitar to shred through an amped up version of her hit single Should’ve Been Us. Kelly ended the performance with an acapella rendition of the song’s soaring refrain, her soulful voice filling the theatre on its own.

Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky joined for a high-energy mashup of TøP’s Heavy Dirty Soul and Lane Boy and the Harlem rapper’s “M’$”. A$AP and Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph stalked the stage as multi-coloured lasers fired above their heads and confetti shot into the air on their flanks.

For the final performance from the downtown block party, Pharrell Williams gave an explosive performance of his emancipation anthem Freedom under the night sky. Williams open with a spoken word freestyle before being joined by a troupe of dancers, who ripped through a routine of throwback dance moves that matched the retro-swing of the track.  The performance concluded with a single firework shooting into the air about Broadway.

In a surprise performance, host Miley Cyrus closed the show with psych rock legends The Flaming Lips for her beautifully bizarre new track, DOO It, which invokes love, peace, the universe and flying saucers. Cyrus emerged from an LED screen projecting extreme close ups of her glitter and sprinkle-smeared mouth, and was followed close behind by a brigade of drag queens in fluorescent unitards. In a stunning turn of synergy, many of the girls were veterans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the hit series on MTV’s sister network, Logo. 


The winners are…


Video of the Year

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

Best Male Video

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Best Female Video

Taylor Swift – Blank Space

Best Hip Hop Video

Nicki Minaj – Anaconda

Best Pop Video

Taylor Swift – Blank Space

Best Rock Video

Fall Out Boy – Uma Thurman

Artist to Watch presented by Taco Bell

Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

Best Collaboration

Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood

Video with a Social Message

Big Sean ft. Kanye West and John Legend – One Man Can Change the World

Song of Summer presented by Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

5 Seconds of Summer — She’s Kinda Hot


Professional Categories

Best Art Direction

Snoop Dogg – So Many Pros (Jason Fijal)

Best Choreography

OK Go – I Won’t Let You Down (OK Go, air:man and Mori Harano)

Best Cinematography

Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – Never Catch Me (Larkin Sieple)

Best Direction

Kendrick Lamar – Alright (Colin Tilley & The Little Homies)

Best Editing

Beyoncé – 7/11 (Beyoncé, Ed Burke, Jonathan Wing)

Best Visual Effects

Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now with Justin Bieber (Brewer)