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The MTV EMAs took over Milan Sunday night, spanning from the Mediolanum Forum to the Piazza Duomo downtown. More than half a billion votes were tallied from music fans all over the world to determine the night’s prizes.
Justin Bieber was undoubtedly the big winner of the night, taking home five prizes including Best Male, Best Look, Worldwide Act: North America, Best Collaboration (“Where Are You Now?” with Skrillex and Diplo) and Biggest Fans.
His performance of “What Do You Mean?” brought the star power to Milan. Dressed in head-to-toe red, he made a 30-second stopover on the red carpet before the festivities began to slap hands with fans.
Pharrell Williams closed out the ceremonies with a performance of “Freedom,” dedicated to the refugee crisis in Europe. The crowds in both the Piazza Duomo and Mediolanum sang along with their fists pumped in the air.
He started the song with a new refrain of “Let them in!”
“Freedom is something you’re born with,” he continued. “No one has to give it to you.”
Thousands of fans in the Piazza Duomo held up a a massive “Freedom” flag made from flags of nations from all over the world, kicking off the MTV Freedom campaign. The global network has partnered with UNICEF, aiming to raise awareness and donations in support of the current refugee crisis in Europe (freedom.mtvema.com).
“Tonight at Pharrell Williams’s powerful EMA performance of ‘Freedom,’ a new country was born … We call it Freedom,” said MTV in a statement. “A place where people are safe from violence. Where families stay together. Where no one is afraid. Where futures are possible and every single child, woman and man belongs. A place we build together that can never be destroyed. A place that knows no boundary, because Freedom is big enough for all of us.”
Ed Sheeran and Orange Is the New Black’s Ruby Rose brought the sweet and salty as co-hosts for the night.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis opened the show with their hit “Downtown,” also winner of the Best Video prize, complete with mopeds, treadmills and B-boys.
Legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli performed his classic “Time to Say Goodbye,” which went over well with the Italian crowd. Tori Kelly joined him for a duet of Pink’s “Learn to Love Again.”
Ellie Goulding performed her hit “Love Me Like You Do,” emerging Botticelli-like from a giant clamshell of mirrored crystals. The night before she performed for tens of thousands of fans at the Piazza Duomo with Duran Duran, who were honored Sunday with the first ever MTV Video Visionary Award.
The 2016 MTV EMAs will be held in Rotterdam.
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