BTS won the most awards, including Best Pop, Best Group, Best K-Pop and Biggest Fans, but were not on hand to collect the awards. Sheeran, who was present, won Best Artist and Best Song for “Bad Habits.”
Italian rock band and 2021 winners of the Eurovision Song Contest Måneskin won Best Rock. After the usual round of thanks during their acceptance speech, lead singer Damiano David said: “We also want to say that people usually told us that we were not going to make it with our music – well, I guess you were wrong.”
Show host and performer Saweetie won Best New, Nicki Minaj won Best Hip-Hop and Olivia Rodrigo Best Push. Colombian singer Maluma who won Best Latin, said: “Colombia is not Pablo Escobar anymore – Colombia is Maluma, baby.”
YUNGBLUD won the award for Best Alternative. “I would like to say that this award is a tribute to individualism – this is an award for the 13-year-old boy from the north of England who was absolutely terrified to be who he was,” the musician said. “If you are out there and you feel like you cannot be who you are, you can be. Keep fighting. Keep being brilliant.”
The Best Collaboration award went to Doja Cat ft. SZA for “Kiss Me More,” while David Guetta won Best Electronic and Billie Eilish was honored with the Video for Good award.
Among the regional local act categories, Taylor Swift won for the U.S. and Little Mix for the U.K. and Ireland.
Justin Bieber, who was the frontrunner with eight nominations, didn’t win any awards.
After a virtual 2020, the event was live from the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna in Hungary and aired on MTV in 180 countries. The show drew inspiration from Budapest’s famous thermal spas and the Danube, the river that runs through the city, and featured a water theme with stages that appeared to be floating.
Sheeran opened the proceedings with a rendition of his latest single “Overpass Graffiti” and later on performed his hit number “Shivers.”
The world premiere performance of Maluma’s “Mama Tetema,” included a segment where him and his dancers were drenched in artificial rain, in keeping with the water theme.
One of the highlights of Saweetie’s hosting routine was interacting with “Squid Game”-inspired soldiers in hot pink suits and MTV-branded masks. She also performed a medley of her hits, including “Best Friend,” “Tap In” and “OUT OUT.”
With a medley of two unreleased songs, “Coconuts,” and “Hit It From The Back,” Kim Petras made EMAs history as the first trans artist to perform at the show.
There were also performances by OneRepublic, Maluma, Imagine Dragons, Måneskin, Griff and Girl in Red. YUNGBLUD closed the night with a performance of his latest single “Fleabag” that was replete with pyrotechnics and ended with him and his band trashing the stage.
The MTV EMA Generation Change Awards went to five honorees for fighting against anti-LGBTQ+ policies. MTV went ahead with the awards in Hungary, despite the country passing anti-LGBTQ+ laws in June, in solidarity with the community.
Viktória Radványi, a board member of Budapest Pride, Hungary’s first feminist and anti-racist LGBTQ+ NGO appeared on stage to accept the award on behalf of the winners. She urged the community to vote together and not to be driven back into the closet.
The previous evening, ViacomCBS Networks International hosted a ‘Future Classics’ exhibition at Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts featuring original pieces from emerging and established artists inspired by the company’s portfolio, including “South Park,” Nickelodeon and Comedy Central’s animation slates, Paramount’s sci-fi portfolio, MTV and BET’s music archives, the “Shore” reality franchise, “Yellowstone” and the upcoming “The Patrick Star Show.”
Bob Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS, and Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, appeared via hologram and gave speeches in support of the event. This was followed by music acts at a purpose-built World Stage at the neighboring Heroes’ Square.
FULL LIST OF 2021 MTV EMA WINNERS
Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”
Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”
Doja Cat ft. SZA – “Kiss Me More”
Best Hip Hop
Video for Good
Billie Eilish – “Your Power”
MTV EMA Generation Change Award
2021 MTV EMA LOCAL ACT WINNERS
Best African Act – Wizkid (Nigeria)
Best Australian Act – Ruel
Best Brazilian Act – Manu Gavassi
Best Canadian Act – Johnny Orlando
Best Caribbean Act – Bad Bunny
Best French Act – Amel Bent
Best German Act – Badmómzjay
Best Hungarian Act – Azahriah
Best India Act – DIVINE
Best Italian Act – Aka 7even
Best Israeli Act – Noa Kirel
Best Japan Act – Sakurazaka46
Best Korea Act – Aespa
Best Latin America-North Act – Alemán
Best Latin America-South Act – Tini
Best Latin America-Central Act – Sebastian Yatra
Best New Zealand Act – Teeks
Best Nordic Act – Tessa (Denmark)
Best Polish Act – Daria Zawialow
Best Portuguese Act – Diogo Piçarra
Best MTV Russia Act – Max Barskih
Best Southeast Asia Act – JJ Lin (Singapore)
Best Spanish Act – Aitana
Best Swiss Act – Gjon’s Tears
Best U.K. & Ireland Act – Little Mix
Best U.S. Act – Taylor Swift