NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Missy Elliott brought her colorful, eccentric and groundbreaking music videos to life when she performed a medley of her hits over the last two decades at the 2019 MTV Music Video Awards, where she earned the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
Elliott ran through well-known songs like “Work It,” ”Lose Control” and more Monday night, even sporting the inflated trash bag she wore with confidence and charisma in the video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” in 1997.
“I’ve worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought I would be standing up here receiving this award,” Elliott said at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The rapper-singer-songwriter-producer-dancer said she wanted to dedicate the award to the dance community: “Y’all are not just props, y’all are the icing on the cake.”
Elliott also honored the late R&B icon Aaliyah, whom she was close to and collaborated with, during her acceptance speech. The 18th anniversary of Aaliyah’s death was Sunday.
“Aaliyah, I love you. We miss you,” Elliott said.
Halsey, Bebe Rexha and Taylor Swift were among the audience members who danced wildly as Elliott blazed the stage.
Earlier, Swift kicked off the VMAs, going from eye-popping pop star to guitar-strumming singer-songwriter: She gave a colorful performance of her gay pride anthem “You Need to Calm Down,” which featured a large rainbow behind her and several background dancers, and later grabbed her guitar and sang the ballad “Lover,” the title track from her album released Friday.
Swift won the top prize — video of the year — for “You Need to Calm Down.” Swift and a number of cast members from the video appeared onstage to accept the honor.
“I just want to say that this is a fan-voted award, so I first want to say thank you to the fans because in this video several points were made, so you voting for this video means that you want a world where we’ll all treated equally.”
The video for “You Need to Calm Down,” a song in which Swift calls out homophobes and her own haters, featured a number of famous faces, including Ellen DeGeneres, Laverne Cox, RuPaul and the cast of “Queer Eye.” The video finishes with the words: “Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally.” And before the video’s release, Swift announced that she supported the Equality Act.
“You Need to Calm Down” also won the video for good honor. Todrick Hall, the multi-faceted entertainer who has appeared in some of Swift’s videos, including “You Need to Calm Down,” accepted the honor.
“If you’re a young child that’s out there watching this show who is different, who feels misunderstood, we’ve never needed you more than now to share your art, share your stories, share your truth with the world no matter what you identify as, who you identify as, who you love, this is such a beautiful place,” said Hall, who co-executive produced the video.
Cardi B’s “Money” won best hip-hop video — the first televised award of the night.
“I can’t hear myself,” she said as fans chanted her name. “Let me do my speech now.”
She went on to thank Jora Frantzis, who directed her “Money” clip, as well as her glam team.
Swift tied with Ariana Grande as the most nominated act at the VMAs, where comedian and actor Sebastian Maniscalco is hosting the show.
Grande is also up for artist of the year, competing with Cardi B, Shawn Mendes, Halsey, Jonas Brothers and Eilish, whose song “Bad Guy” recently displaced “Old Town Road” from the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Other performers include Lizzo, Normani, Bad Bunny, H.E.R., J Balvin, Rosalia, Big Sean, Ozuna and A$AP Ferg.
During the pre-show, MTV announced that Eilish was named push artist of the year award and BTS and Halsey’s “Boy With Luv” won best K-pop.