08.29.11

Best Moments From the 2011 VMAs

Beyoncé shows off her baby bump, Lady Gaga does drag, Adele kills, and Katy Perry interrupts Kanye West. Shannon Donnelly on highlights from music’s wildest night.

Lady Gaga: What a Drag

Straight from the pages of Vogue Hommes Japan, it’s Jo Calderone, the alter ego of Lady Gaga! Or would that be Stefani Germanotta’s alter-alter ego? Gosh, these things get confusing sometimes. At any rate, the 2011 VMAs started off in their usual wild manner with Gaga channeling Jo Calderone—think a mad mashup of a Grease-era Travolta, a Taxi Driver-era De Niro, two cartons of cigarettes, and a gallon of hair grease—before launching into a spirited rendition of “Yoü and I,” complete with Queen’s Brian May on guitar.

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Britney Takes the Stage, the World Doesn’t End

Sure, Britney Spears’ speech after winning Best Pop Video for “Till the World Ends” wasn’t the wildest thing ever (thanking your kids is pretty squarely, uh, square), but you know what? We are in a post-Winehouse world now, and it’s frankly refreshing to see a formerly tarnished starlet manage to pull herself together and be all polished, pretty, and coherent on the same stage where she so very publicly stumbled only a few years earlier. Go Team Britney.

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Minaj à Moon Man

It’s a good thing Lady Gaga decided to go the drag-king route for the VMAs, otherwise she and Nicki Minaj, who won Best Hip Hop Video for “Super Bass,” might have shown up wearing the same outfit, and that would be dire. All sartorial joking aside, Minaj was clearly stoked to snag a Moon Man of her very own, throwing out thanks to God, her family, and Lil Wayne.

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It’s the Funniest Joke of 2009!

Hey, remember that time Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs? Well, do you? Because Katy Perry sure does!  “Now this is the time where you want to interrupt me, Kanye! How you doin’, boo?” Katy Perry said when she and West went to pick up their award for Best Collaboration for “E.T.” Katy went on to win Video of the Year for “Firework.”

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No Auto-Tune, No Problem for Adele

Forget pyrotechnics and crazy costumes, Adele gave one of the most memorable VMA performances in years when she sang “Someone Like You” in an elegant black dress, backed by a simple piano arrangement. Even the normally ADD-addled VMA live audience was stunned into silence by the lovely performance.

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Chris Brown Channels His Inner Spidey

What is the exact opposite of Adele’s stripped-down, beautiful performance? Well, that would probably be this head-scratcher of a spectacle! Behold, Chris Brown dancing his way through three decades of pop music. This includes Brown busting out trampolines for a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and flying over the audience, Spider-Man-style.

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It’s Britney (and Britney, and Britney, and Britney), Bitch.

Against all odds, the night got even stranger with a manic-panic tribute to Britney Spears featuring a full cavalcade of dancers gyrating to a mashup of her greatest hits. Don’t sit too close to the screen while watching this one or your brain might explode. On the plus side, it was capped off by a Gaga-Britney almost-kiss.

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Beyoncé Bumps and Grinds

Beyoncé finished her energetic performance of “Love on Top” by showing off her newly revealed baby bump, which is likely to contain the 2031 VMA Best New Artist winner considering the star-powered DNA.

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Remembering Amy Winehouse

Comedian Russell Brand might seem like an odd choice to deliver a eulogy, but his breezy yet heartfelt tribute to “loopy, loose cannon” Amy Winehouse perfectly fit the tone of the VMAs. He was followed by Tony Bennett, who introduced a clip of himself singing with Amy. Bruno Mars then closed the tribute by performing a cover of Amy and Mark Ronson’s version of “Valerie.” An altogether nice sendoff for a troubled soul.

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Meet Your Next Twilight

Patient fans of The Hunger Games were finally rewarded with their first glimpse of the film adaptation almost two and a half hours into the awards. As young-adult-fiction author Scott Westerfeld quipped on Twitter, “When I was young, upcoming adaptations of YA novels didn't close the #vma's. #justsayin #wewon”

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Lil Wayne Dresses Down

Finally, Lil Wayne closed the show with an increasingly profane and naked performance of “How to Love” that brought down the house. Looks like prison was good to Weezy!

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