Beyonce owned the MTV Video Music Awards by winning video of the year and giving a 16-minute performance featuring her recent hits from “Lemonade,” working various stages with strong, layered vocals, skilled dance moves and even an outfit change — all as the audience watched in awe and cheered her on.
Beyonce won the top prize for “Formation,” besting Adele, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Drake.
“First of all I’d like to thank my beautiful daughter and my incredible husband for all of their support,” said Beyonce, who walked the carpet with Blue Ivy by her side. “I dedicate this award to the people of New Orleans.”
Queen B kicked of her strong set with “Pray You Catch Me” as blue lights beamed onstage. She was wearing white, but later stripped down to a black leotard with full sleeves as she sang “Hold Up” and “Sorry.” She grew angry and twerked while performing “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and ended with the anthemic “Formation.”
“If y’all came to slay, sing along with me,” she said.
The audience at Madison Square Garden watched intensely Sunday, at times recording the performance with their phones.
It was reminiscent of the 2014 VMAs, when Beyonce also performed for 16 minutes and accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. This year it is being awarded to Rihanna, who split up her performances throughout the night, singing hits such as “Work,” ”We Found Love” and “Love on the Brain.”
But the biggest moment for Rihanna came when Drake — in a tuxedo — presented the award to his former girlfriend. He said he met Rihanna in 2005 on the set of her first music video for “Pon De Replay.”
Rihanna, 28, thanked her family, friends and hometown of Saint Michael, Barbados for helping her succeed in her 11-year-career.
“All I can think of is my country, they’re gonna be so proud, this is the first Vanguard to land anywhere near my country,” she said. “My success started as my dream, but now my success is not my own. It’s my family, my fans, my country … it’s women, it’s black women.”
Beyonce’s top-notch performance starkly contrasted with that of Britney Spears, who returned to the VMA stage after 10 years. Not only did she lip sync, in typical fashion, but she did so badly. Spears performed her hit “Make Me…” and danced slickly, but she didn’t actually sing a word of the song live. She was joined by rapper G-Eazy — and she lip synched the hook to his hit song, “Me, Myself and I.”