Anything can happen at the VMAs. MTV’s annual celebration of music videos has always been a hub for pop culture happenings, and with the 2023 show featuring performances by everyone from Olivia Rodrigo to Cardi B, September 12 should be a fun night of the hottest music out right now. Shakira and Sean “Diddy” Combs will receive the night's special honors, but who else will be taking home a Moon Person? Will Taylor Swift surpass Beyoncé and Madonna for the most wins in VMAs history? Follow along with me for a rundown on the winners, performances and other unforgettable moments.
We’re less than a half-hour away from emcee Nicki Minaj kicking off the 2023 VMAs, and while we wait the MTV pre-show has been giving us a peek at some of tonight’s amazing fashion moments. Video Vanguard honoree Shakira is stunning in a gold gown, while Kelsea Ballerini and her partner Chase Stokes color coordinated in red. I can’t wait to see more!
Lil Wayne kicked things off in a big way, proving that this night is all about hip-hop. The whole crowd was moving with him. He then passed the baton to Olivia Rodrigo, who slowed things down for a moment with “vampire” before rocking out to “get him back.” It was an entertaining opening to the show.
However, it was when Nicki Minaj made her entrance in a gorgeous pink gown with a matching veil over her face that the crowd really could not contain themselves.
This is not a drill. The members of N*Sync are all together on the VMA stage! Taylor Swift — who has officially made her entrance — was on her feet as the iconic boy band took the stage to present the first award for, appropriately, Best Pop.
The winner for BEST POP: Taylor Swift, "Anti-Hero"
Taylor Swift has officially won her first award of the evening out of the eight she's nominated for. BFF Selena Gomez stood to cheer for the announcement. The Eras Tour artist nearly couldn't get over N*Sync being her presenter in order to make her acceptance speech, and she insisted that there must be a reason they reunited. I'm with Taylor -- is there a performance in our future?
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion just KILLED IT on stage with their performance of “Bongos,” and nobody was more into it than Offset. Check him out:
If my man don’t support me like this, ion want him 😩😂😂 #MTVVMAs #OffSet #CardiB pic.twitter.com/1Qxk3XLP1VSeptember 13, 2023
We are all here for this proud husband energy!
The winner for BEST K-POP: Stray Kids, "S-Class"
The group thanked MTV and their fans, promising big things to come.
The winner for SONG OF THE YEAR: “Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift
Nelly Furtado and Timbaland presented the award to a still-starstruck Taylor Swift. The Midnights artist had 14 Moon Person trophies coming into tonight, and with eight nominations, she has the opportunity to surpass Madonna, who currently leads the pack with 20. With her two wins so far tonight, Swift has now tied Beyoncé at 16.
The winner for BEST R&B: SZA, “Shirt"
SZA was not in attendance to accept the award. Before announcing the winner, presenter French Montana sent love to his native Morocco, which suffered a devastating earthquake that reportedly killed thousands. He said he is setting up an emergency fund to help.
Doja Cat just put on a clinic in what many on social media were calling their favorite performance so far. Many celebs — including Tiffany Haddish and resident VMAs fangirl Taylor Swift — were seen rocking out in the crowd to “Attention,” “Paint the Town Red” and “Demons.”
Well if anybody could follow up Doja Cat’s appearance, it would have to be someone as impressive as Shakira. The 2023 Video Vanguard recipient took the stage to perform a 10-minute medley, and not even the flames that flared all over the stage were as hot as the Colombian singer. You know those hips were going strong, and Shakira seemed to be having the best time. The performance ended with her standing on a podium high above her captivated audience.
MTV kindly allowed Shakira the length of a commercial break to recover from her performance, before accepting the Video Vanguard Moon Person. She thanked many people who have helped her on her visual journey, before mentioning her family, her children and lastly the fans:
I want to share this award with my fans, who always, always supported me through thick and thin. Thank you so much for being my army and helping me fight all my battles.
Woo, go ice those hips now.
The winner for BEST LATIN: Anitta, “Funk Rave”
Anitta said she owes everything to her fans, shouting out the support she has in Brazil and Mexico. She also thanked herself because she works so hard. More of this self-love and recognition please!
Backstage cameras appeared to show Megan Thee Stallion arguing with Justin Timberlake. There’s been a lot of speculation on the socials about what was said between the two, but a source for Variety said there was “zero fight,” while ET’s insiders said it was actually a sweet moment between the two. Timberlake reportedly told Megan, who was getting her hair fixed, "It's so nice to meet you," and she responded, "No no this don't count, this don't count, we gotta meet proper." See the exchange below:
Megan Thee Stallion and Justin Timberlake appear to be arguing backstage at the 2023 #VMAs. pic.twitter.com/aqIfIjssxlSeptember 13, 2023
It certainly doesn't look like a friendly exchange, but for now, sources are insisting there’s nothing to see here.
Mary J. Blige introduced Sean Combs, aka “Puff Daddy.” aka “Diddy,” saying he’s earned the title of “icon” as not just for his music, but for what he’s done for other artists, his businesses, labels and, last but not least, as a father. His son King Combs was among the rappers who joined him on stage for his own extended medley, and when the time came for him to accept the Global Icon award, his oldest daughter Chance was given the honor of presenting it. Diddy was absolutely giddy, jumping and dancing before accepting the Moon Person from Chance, with his other children joining him as well.
The winner for BEST AFROBEATS: Rema & Selena Gomez, “Calm Down”
Best Afrobeats was a new category for the VMAs this year, and the first honors went to Rema and Selena Gomez.
The winner for BEST HIP-HOP: Nicki Minaj, “Super Freaky Girl”
The emcee of the night also got her flowers, and Nicki Minaj accepted the Best Hip-Hop award with “gratitude,” before exiting the stage by shouting, “It’s Barbie, bitch!”
The winner for BEST COLLABORATION: Karol G and Shakira, "TQG"
Shakira and Karol G brought the house down with their performances earlier in the night, but the Latina ladies weren’t done. The duo won for their steamy — and salty — collaboration, “TQG,” and the Colombian singers were sure to shout out their home country in their acceptance speeches.
We’re now three hours into the VMAs, and if your Tuesday night isn’t looking like this, you’re doing it wrong:
taylor dancing at the award shows is my favorite genrepic.twitter.com/4CHfokk4wnSeptember 13, 2023
There’s a good reason awards shows keep a camera trained on Taylor Swift.
The winner for BEST DIRECTION: Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”
She’s 3-for-3 so far. Taylor Swift was honored for her work as the director of her “Anti-Hero” music video, and since, “Direction is a team sport,” according to the artist, she brought her team up to accept the award. Will anyone be able to beat her tonight?
The winner for BEST NEW ARTIST: Ice Spice
Ice Spice accepted her award from last year's winner, Dove Cameron.
A lot of different genres of music were recognized tonight during the VMAs, but as I said before, the night ultimately belonged to hip-hop. The 50h anniversary of the genre was celebrated with a third extended medley that featured some absolute icons. LL Cool J, DMC, Doug E. Fresh, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five did hip-hop right, along with Nicki Minaj. Lil Wayne opened the show with a bang and he helped to close out the show with the same energy.
The winner for VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”
Another win for Taylor! Of the four categories she was nominated in that were shown on the four-hour broadcast, she swept the night. However, there is some confusion amongst fans on social media about winners in multiple categories that weren’t announced. The VMAs ended without telling us who won for Artist, Album and Group of the Year, Best Alternative, Cinematography, Visual Effects and Editing.