Madonna, Bieber kick off MTV VMAs; Olivia Rodrigo 1st winner – The Denver Post

The 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, a night of highlighting music and pop culture, opened on Sunday with Madonna paying homage to the network’s 40th anniversary followed by Justin Bieber’s high-energy performance.

“They said we wouldn’t last,” Madonna said. “But we’re still here.”

After Madonna pranced off stage, Bieber and The Kid LAROI rappelled from the ceiling of the Barclays Center in New York onto the VMA’s stage before the hit song “Stay.” The singer, performing for the first time in six years, went solo act for his song “Ghost.” He last took the VMAs stage in 2015 when he performed “What Do You Mean?”

Bieber leads this year’s show with seven nominations, including video of the year for “POPSTAR” and artist of the year.

Moments after Olivia Rodrigo performed her hit “good 4 u,” she collected the first award of the night for her massive hit song “Driver’s License.”

“This is the most magical year of my life,” said Rodrigo, a first-time nominee.

Jennifer Lopez, who three days earlier made her re-kindled romance with Ben Affleck official on the red carpet of his new film ““The Last Duel” at the Venice International Film Festival, presented Rodrigo her trophy.

Moments later, Bieber collected his first award from early MTV icon Cyndi Lauper.

She preached about female equal rights before she handed the Moonman trophy to Bieber, whose song “Peaches” with Giveon and Daniel Ceasar won best pop song.

“Girls still want to have fun,” said Lauper, known for classic melody “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “But we also want to have funds, equal pay, control over our bodies, you know, fundamental rights.”

Megan Thee Stallion enters the show as the second-leading nominee with six nominations. BTS, Doja Cat, Drake, Giveon, Lil Nas X and Rodrigo each have five nods.

Bieber and Megan Thee Stallion will compete with Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Rodrigo and Taylor Swift for artist of the year.

The Foo Fighters will perform and receive the Global Icon Award, an honor handed out for the first time at the VMAs. The award recognizes an artist or band “whose unparalleled career and continued impact and influence has maintained a unique level of global success in music and beyond.”

The prestigious award was previously presented at the annual MTV Europe Music Awards. Past recipients include Queen, Eminem and Whitney Houston.

The rock band – comprised of Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee – will perform at the first time since 2007.

The show is being simulcast across CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop, TV Land, VH1 and The CW Network.

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