MTV celebrated it’s 40th in true music royalty style at the 2021 VMA’s
Nostalgia kicked off the night as the opening line “And they said we wouldn’t last,” delivered by Madonna, the then breakout star of the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, kicked off the 2021 VMAs by referencing Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s iconic moment of cringe at the 1994 VMAs. A very clever way to draw a quick through-line between four entire decades of MTV history in just six words. Whether or not the joke was grasped by the Gen Z-ers in attendance, (most of who weren’t even born for MJ and Lisa Marie’s awkward ’94 kiss), let alone Madonna’s ’84 cake-bursting, is dubious at best.
Host Doja Cat teased early on in the night that due to the VMAs also doubling as a 40th birthday party this year, viewers would get “more famous people” than a normal award show. She was right. Just look at this presenter list: Jennifer Lopez, Fat Joe, Ashanti, Avril Lavigne, Wyclef Jean, AJ McLean, Lance Bass, Nick Lachey and Tommy Lee. Madonna was only one of three Class of ’84 alums in the house: Cyndi Lauper presented the trophy for best pop, while David Lee Roth (then of Van Halen) gave out the night’s climactic award, video of the year.
There was also this epic Foo Fighters video collage paired with the band’s global icon performance.
Chloë made her debut as a solo artist. Meanwhile, “Backstreets Back, Alright.”
Lil Nas left everyone with an up tempo performance and a message for HIV.