The MTV Video Music Awards made its way back to the West Coast Sunday at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The annual event was the newly-remodeled Forum’s first award ceremony, making the Forum a contender for other award shows as performances from the pop royalty Beyonce to boy band favorite 5 Seconds of Summer graced its stage throughout the two-hour ceremony. In its third decade, the MTV VMAs have become an awards show known for its eccentrics — think Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. However, the 2014 show seemed to focus less on the unusual and more on the musical performances.
Best: Before the show even began, Katy Perry, who earned Best Female Video for “Dark Horse” with Juicy J, stirred up conversation. Perry and her date, rapper Riff Raff, took everyone back by dressing up circa early 2000s Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Perry and Raff were clad in light blue jean denim as they walked the red carpet.
Worst: Though it was a much-anticipated performance, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” performance was overshadowed by the news of her backup dancer getting injured in rehearsal by one of the boa constrictors. While sharing the stage with Jessie J and Ariana Grande, Minaj experienced an outfit malfunction and was forced to hold her tight black dress against her throughout the rest of the performance.
Best: Crooner Sam Smith held the crowd’s attention and even brought some females to tears with his performance of his hit song “Stay With Me.” Though he didn’t walk home with any VMA awards, his strong vocals definitely left an impression on the audience and showed he was a solid contender for an artist to watch. Smith’s performance also marked his American award show debut.
Worst: SNL comedian Jay Pharoah had one too many jokes that fell flat during his celeb impersonations. Pharoah joked about Jay Z‘s parenting techniques and his possible new “premium cough syrup” line as well as Kanye West‘s wife Kim Kardashian‘s intelligence — or lack thereof. However, most of the crowd did not realize Pharoah was not the famed performers he was impersonating and started tweeting and snapping photos of him. So overall his presence was all-around just awkward.
Best: Usher continued to show the crowd that he was the man of cool with his performance of his latest hit “She Came to Give It to You.” Not only did he showcase his stellar dance moves, but he brought Nicki Minaj to the stage and whipped out the electric guitar.
Worst: “Dumb and Dumber To” actors Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels were as odd as their film series. Carrey slipped and fell while doing a set involving a joke about Ebola and Coachella and a scarf. While recovering from his tumble, co-star Daniels did what any comedian would — improvised. Finally, the show went on and they announced the winner for Best Pop Video. Kudos Ariana Grande.
Best: Rapper Common brought a socially conscious angle to the night when he asked the audience to participate in a moment of silence for the incidents taking place in Ferguson, Mo. Common told the crowd, “Hip hop has always presented a voice for the revolution. I want us all to take a moment of silence for Mike Brown and for peace in this country and in the world.” Beyonce took home the Best Video with a Social Message.
Best: Iggy Azalea alongside Rita Ora did a spooky yet well-received performance of her hit “Black Widow” as the crowd ate it up. Unlike her pre-VMA performance there were no slip-ups on stage.
Worst: When Trey Songz joined Nina Dobrev on stage to present the winner for Best Rock Video, the rapper, known for “Neighbors Know My Name,” got cozy with Dobrev, saying, “I can always get behind a female – seriously.” Dobrev scooted away from her co-presenter. Songz then switched the script and gave a quick shoutout to his grandma, who he said was celebrating her 70th birthday.
Best: Beyonce, who took home the night’s top award — the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award — had a flawless night. Queen Bey took auds through a lineup of her songs from her self-titled album that dropped in December, and closed the night with both excitement and sentiment. From “Flawless” to “XO,” Beyonce showed her range. The camera also panned to husband Jay Z and tot Blue Ivy dancing along to mom’s music. When Jay Z and Blue Ivy took the stage to present the award, she also showed the world that she has several other salient titles.