In the world of entertainment award shows, there’s none as notoriously outrageous as the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). When you think of the most prominent pop culture moments in the past two decades of music history, they probably happened at the VMAs. Nicki Minaj’s “Miley, what’s good?” diss entered stan vocabulary during the 2015 show. Miley Cyrus humping Robin Thicke, a foam finger and an unfortunately placed teddy bear fed gossip magazines for weeks in 2013.
This year’s ceremony continued the show’s promise to expect the unexpected. Here are the night’s biggest surprises– foam finger not included.
THE DUCHESS FLEW FIRST CLASS
Jack Harlow kicked off the night performing his TikTok viral song of the summer, “First Class.” The song’s chorus samples Fergie’s 2006 hit “Glamorous,” an ode to living the luxurious celeb lifestyle while remembering your roots. Harlow paid homage to his song’s roots by bringing Fergie out of her unofficial retirement to perform alongside him.
In case you’re “so two thousand and late,” Fergie was known as the Duchess of Pop in the early to mid-2000s. You probably know her as the lead singer of the Black Eyed Peas, but the next time you hear her voice will be when “Fergalicious” queues up in your gym playlist.
TAYLOR SWIFT SHINED ON THE RED CARPET
Swift made an unexpected appearance at the VMAs to accept the recently reinstated award for Best Longform Video, which went to All Too Well: The Short Film. She dripped diamonds along the carpet in an Oscar de la Renta mini dress reminiscent of the silver gown she wore for the 2009 VMAs, infamously known as the year Kanye West interrupted her speech and launched the next decade’s buzziest feud. 13 years later, she’s back at the same award show in a grown-up version of that night’s look– and this time, she got to finish her speech.
TAYLOR SWIFT ANNOUNCED A NEW ALBUM
If Swift is forever tied to the VMAs, she might as well use the attention to her advantage! The singer used her Best Longform Video acceptance speech to announce that she will be releasing a brand new album on Oct. 21. Swift has not released an original album since 2020’s evermore, instead launching into rerecording her earlier work. Fans have been speculating all summer that either Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) or Reputation (Taylor’s Version) would be released this fall.
Swift took to her social media platforms after the award show to officially announce her tenth studio album, Midnights, a collection of 13 songs written in the middle of the night titled by their track number. Brb, screaming from now until midnight on Oct. 21.
BAD BUNNY WON ARTIST OF THE YEAR
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s kept up with el Conejo Malo– his star has been burning white hot for years now. Collaborations with artists like Drake and Cardi B have helped reggaeton and Latin culture cross into the mainstream English musical landscape. This summer, Bad Bunny dropped the quintessential summer album Un verano sin ti, with songs like “Moscow Mule” sounding on airwaves all around the world. He livestreamed into this year’s show from the New York stop of his world tour to perform the club anthem “Titi Me Pregunto” and accept his historical win as the first Latin artist to win Artist of the Year at the VMAs.