MTV VMAs: Justin Timberlake Wins Top Prize, Macklemore Earns Three Moonmen
Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke joined forces for a controversial performance, while 'N Sync reunited -- if briefly.
The 2013 MTV Video Music Awards aired Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV from Brooklyn's Barclays Center, with Justin Timberlake taking home the night's top prize of Video of the Year for "Mirrors."
"This is amazing," Timberlake said, "'cause it's so personal for me."
Lady Gaga opened the ceremony with the world-premiere performance of "Applause" (and a whopping five costume changes during her performance alone). Other artists to hit the stage included Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Drake and a collabo from Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, which set Twitter into a frenzy from the over-the-top, teddy-bear-and-grinding-filled performance. Cyrus, introduced by Saturday Night Live cast member Vanessa Bayer doing her best Cyrus impression, set tongues wagging when she stripped down to a nude-colored two-piece and danced suggestively with Thicke.
Timberlake brought his former boy band 'N Sync to the stage while accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from presenter Jimmy Fallon. After a medley of his biggest solo hits, including "Take Back the Night," "SexyBack," "Cry Me a River" and "Rock Your Body," JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick emerged from below the stage for a brief rendition of 'N Sync's "Girlfriend" and "Bye Bye Bye." As quickly as they arrived, they descended again and Timberlake tied up the performance on his own with his 20/20 Experience hits "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors."
Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jared Leto, Emeli Sande and A$AP Rocky were among the show's presenters, with DJ Cassidy as the official DJ.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their gay rights anthem "Same Love" with vocalist Mary Lambert after winning the Moonman for Best Video With a Message. Surprising the audience, Jennifer Hudson joined in the performance and engaged Lambert in a vocal back-and-forth onstage.
"I really wanted to win the Best Rap Video, but this Moonman right here stands for so much more," said Macklemore during his acceptance speech. The duo won the award for Best Rap Video earlier in the evening and, off-camera, their "Can't Hold Us" won Best Cinematography.
"Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation," he added of the recent legal victory in California over Prop 8. "To watch this song in the last year spread across the world is a testament to what is happening right now in American on the forefront of equality."
Introducing the Seattle-based rapper was Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out earlier this year. Standing next to A$AP Rocky, Collins said: “The only way things change is when you stand up for what you believe in."
Comic Kevin Hart appeared multiple times during the broadcast to crack jokes, but was quick to clarify that he wasn't the night's official host.
"They just keep asking me to do stuff," he explained. "I'm just up here to talk about some stuff right now."
Hart hosted last year's ceremony at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
In standard fashion, Swift also made a pointed dig at one of her exes. While accepting the honor of Best Female Video for "I Knew You Were Trouble," Swift thanked the man who inspired the song, saying that he "knows exactly who he is."
"Now I got one of these," she said with a big grin, holding her Moonman high in the air.
Katy Perry closed out the show with a live rendition of "Roar" from the Brooklyn Bridge.