VMAs: Best and Worst Moments From the Show

9:44 PM 8/27/2017

by Victoria Berggren and Kara Haar

A few of the most memorable moments at the Sunday night award show included a new music video from Taylor Swift and P!nk's acceptance speech.

The 2017 Video Music Awards aired on Sunday night from the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

The award show included memorable moments from Taylor Swift debuting her new, edgy music video to a touching Logic performance referencing suicide prevention. 

Katy Perry hosted throughout the evening and closed the show with a performance featuring Nicki Minaj of "Swish Swish."

Read on for the show's most memorable moments.

  • Kendrick Lamar Opens With a Fiery Performance

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    Kendrick Lamar opened the Video Music Awards with his two singles, “DNA” and “Humble." Dancers took the stage during his performance, scaling massive walls lit with fire. One dancer dressed in a ninja ensemble approached Lamar covered in fire. During the performance, he wore a red sweatsuit — and didn’t break a sweat amid the heat. 

  • Katy Perry Comes Down From "Space" in Opening Monologue

    Katy Perry opened the Video Music Awards by flying over the crowd on a harness, dressed in a space costume.

    The host of the evening pretended she had lived in space for the past year and just landed on Earth. She opened a newspaper that read "The World Is on Fire" as the headline. 

  • Taylor Swift Debuts Her New Music Video

    Taylor Swift debuted her new music video for "Look What You Made Me Do." The video started with the pop singer singing as a corpse in a graveyard. She was biting diamonds and sitting on a throne with snakes while singing her latest single. Near the end of the video, Swift stood on top of a pyramid as versions of herself tried to climb up. The video ended with the alter egos in a line, referencing comments others have made about her "surprised face" and "always playing the victim."

  • Fifth Harmony Kicks Fifth Member Off Stage

    Fifth Harmony took the stage to perform “Angel” and “Down.” At the beginning of the performance, a silhouette of five girls appeared until one was suddenly thrown off the stage, referencing Camila Cabello leaving the group earlier this year. The lights turned on and four remaining members — Lauren Jauregui, Dinah Jane, Normani Kordei and Ally Brooke — continued to sing. The performance ended with the quartette dropping a mic in the pouring rain.  


  • Lorde Dances, But Doesn't Sing, While Recovering From the Flu

    Lorde danced along to her recorded track, “Homemade Dynamite.” She did not sing the lyrics but she danced around the stage. Before the show, Lorde shared on Twitter that she was sick with the flu. She wore a dress with sweatpants and sneakers during the performance. 

  • Jared Leto Pays Tribute to Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell

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    Jared Leto gave a speech in tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who committed suicide July 20. “I think about his family, his band, who are really his brothers, and I think about his voice … that voice will live forever,” said Leto. He continued with recognizing Chris Cornell, who also died by suicide on May 18, by telling the audience, “They were close friends to one another.” Leto asked the crowd to stand to their feet as he introduced a past performance by Linkin Park at the 2010 VMAs.

  • All Ages Join Miley Cyrus for Performance

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    No twerking here. Miley Cyrus took the stage to perform her single “Younger Now.” She wore a hot pink romper and bedazzled sunglasses. The performance began with elder dancers around her dressed in '50s-inspired outfits. Cyrus grabbed an elder woman’s chest while singing the lyrics, “What goes up must come down.” Later on, little kids on toy motorcycles appeared. The performance ended with her and the older dancers in poodle skirts.

  • P!nk Gives Touching Acceptance Speech

    P!nk performed a collection of her most popular songs before accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. The singer wore a white jumpsuit, red leotard and ribbons adorned with inspirational quotes as she performed a medley of her songs that included “Get the Party Started” and “Raise Your Glass.” P!nk flew above the crowd in retro airborne car while singing a “Pretty Pretty Please” and “Just Like a Pill” mashup. She also sang her new song, “What About Us.” Dancers in costume joined her on stage to end the performance standing with fists high in the air.  Following the performance, P!nk accepted the Vanguard Award. She told a story of her young daughter and the importance of being true to yourself.

  • Logic Performance Incorporates Suicide Prevention Messages  

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    Kesha announced Logic as he took the stage to sing his single “1-800-273-8255.” The rapper wore a black sweatshirt that read “Everybody.” An orchestra and choir accompanied Logic along with Alessia Cara and Khalid. Suicide survivors lined the stage in white T-shirts that read “1-800-273-8255” on the front and “You Are Not Alone” on the back. At the end of the performance, Logic asked the crowd to stand to their feet to applaud those who are affected by this disease.

  • Heather Heyer's Mother Presents "Best Fight Against the System"

    Reverend Robert Lee introduced Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed earlier this month during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Bro presented the award for "Best Fight Against the System." "I want people to know that Heather never marched alone, she was always joined by people from every race and every background," said Bro. The nominees included Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson, The Hamilton Mixtape, Big Sean, Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley and John Legend — and all were deemed winners. MTV had said that the category was added this year to "continue reflecting the audience’s passion and activism surrounding environmental justice, immigration, LGBTQ equality and racial justice."

  • Kendrick Lamar Wins Video of the Year

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    The last of award of the night went to Kendrick Lamar for Video of the Year. The rapper accepted the award for his single, “HUMBLE.” “Man, I want to thank God for giving us these amazing talents,” said Lamar.

  • Katy Perry Closes the Show

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    Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj ended the night with a performance of their new single “Swish Swish.” The host wore a basketball corset while Nicki came out in a referee ensemble. The show closed with the stage transforming into a court and balloon basketballs falling from the ceiling.