Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X took home top awards at this year’s MTV Music Video Awards in-person in New York City to mark the channel’s 40th anniversary.
The world-famous Moonman Trophies were presented to Barclay’s Center late Sunday evening, after organizers were unable to host the event in person last year, due to the pandemic.
The main prize, the video of the year, was Lil Nas X, which has come under heavy criticism from conservative and religious groups in recent months for its sexually explicit videos and sale shoes containing own blood.
Receiving the award for his song Montero (Call Me By Your Name), a video in which he pole dance and twerk in front of the devil, Lil Nas X wryly thanked the “gay agenda”.
He also used his performance of the track, along with the latest single Industry Baby, to highlight the plight of people living with HIV in the southern United States.
Somewhere else, Justin bieber won the Artist of the Year award, beating competition from Ariana Grande, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion.
He also performed with The Kid Laroi on their viral track Stay, which hit the charts across the globe.
In his acceptance speech, the Canadian said “we are living in an unprecedented time” because of the pandemic.
He added, “Music is an incredible opportunity and an incredible outlet to be able to reach people and bring us all together and that is why we are here right now. We have a lot more in common than we do. “
Teenage feeling Olivia rodrigo won the gongs for Driver’s License Song of the Year and Best New Artist at the glitzy ceremony, and also performed her track Good 4 U.
A Disney Channel actress, her album Sour topped the charts in the US and UK and was one of the best-selling records of the year.
Accepting her song of the year trophy, the 18-year-old said: “This has been the most magical year of my life and it’s all thanks to you.
“I want to dedicate this award to all the other girls who write songs on their bedroom floors.
“There are a lot of people who will try to dim your light, but saying what you think and sharing your heart are the most beautiful things in the world and that’s why.”
Teen star Billie Eilish won the fan-voted Best Price video for Your Power, about a man abusing his position over a young woman.
She told the hall that “we must protect our young women at all costs, for real” during her speech.
Meanwhile, Foo Fighters performed a medley of their hits on stage before winning the top world icons award, while stars Doja Cat and SZA took home the best collaboration for their track Kiss Me More.
BTS was also in the mix, accepting the top K-pop award for their latest track Butter.
Cyndi Lauper had the political moment of the evening when she took aim at Texas’ new law that bans most abortions in the state.
During the award ceremony, she said that if girls want to have fun too, they also want “control over our bodies … you know, basic rights”, to enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Alicia Keys also took part in the ceremony, which paid tribute to New York City – the same weekend as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, singing her Empire State Of Mind mega-track.