The 2023 VMA momentshad everything: Taylor Swift won, Shakira did an amazing medley, *NSYNC got back together, and there were so many amazing acts. The show, which was broadcast live from Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center, also celebrated the best in Latin music. It was also the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Everyone, or almost everyone, was there.
Nicki Minaj wearing a pink dress and veil
The MTV Video Music Awards got more viewers on Tuesday than they had in the last couple of years. Nielsen's final same-day numbers show that 913,000 people watched the show on MTV. This is a 29.5 percent jump from the 705,000 people who watched the 2022 VMAs, and it's also a bit more than the 900,000 people who watched the 2021 awards on MTV. A lot of other Paramount Global cable stations and TelevisaUnivision's UniMas also showed the VMAs.
Adults ages 18-34 watched the VMAs more than twice as much as they did last year, and adults ages 18-49 watched 77 percent more than they did the year before. Early numbers show that the show got a 1.14 rating among 18-34-year-olds in MTV-capable homes, which number about 70 million. This is the best rating for the show (again, on MTV alone) since 2019. Its 1.03 grade among adults 18-49 is the best in the past three years. The VMAs gave MTV its best Tuesday in both groups since 2014, which was almost a decade ago. The awards show from last year was on a Sunday.
The awards event took place at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. It was basically one long (very, very long) concert with a few awards given out between songs. Ice Spice got Best New Artist, and Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero" won four awards, including Video of the Year, which was the singer-songwriter's record-setting fourth time winning that award. Swift really ruled the night. Along with her awards, the producersoften cut to shots of her dancing or reacting to acts from her seat, so she was never out of view for long.
At Tuesday's MTV Video Music Awards, an artist tied the record for most competitive-category VMA wins in a night after 36 years. Peter Gabriel broke the record with nine wins in 1987 when his breakthrough “Sledgehammer” video dominated the fourth VMAs. The lady Justin Timberlake touted as “the unstoppable Taylor Swift” did it again this year.
Swift dominated this year's VMAs, winning Video of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Video, three technical awards for “Anti-Hero,” Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Midnights (which she announced at last year's VMAs), and Show of the Summer for her blockbuster Eras Tour. She also became the first artist to win the VMAs' "crown jewel" category twice and became the artist with the most Video of the Year awards (this was her fourth win). She had already won Video of the Year for “Bad Blood,” “You Need to Calm Down,” and “All Too Well: The Short Film” last year.
Swift tied the record set by Oscar-nominated video directors-turned-Hollywood filmmakers David Fincher and Spike Jonze by winning her third Moonperson for Best Direction this year.
Swift's first VMA, Best Pop Video, was presented by her “pop personified” childhood idols, the reformed NSync. She dominated Tuesday's VMAs without performing. Instead, she watched most of the night from her cozy front-row seat at Newark's Prudential Center, next to her new friend and 2023 VMA Best New Artist winner Ice Spice, as MTV had a dedicated camera feed on her for the nearly four-hour broadcast.
Olivia Rodrigo's highly-anticipated second album, GUTS, came out last week on September 8. As part of the album rollout, she performed at the VMAs for the first time as part of the album launch. Rodrigo sang the lead song, "Vampire," while pyrotechnics went off in the background. At first, it looked like the pyrotechnics were going wrong, but in the end, it all seemed to be part of the plan, or so we think. She came back with a lot of Olivias to sing the fan favorite "Get Him Back!" song, and today she also shared the official music video for it. When host Nicki Minaj called out Rodrigo, the cameras cut to Swift watching the show with rapper Ice Spice. This probably wasn't an accident, since there has been a lot of talk online about whether or not the two singer-songwriters are still friends.
Even though there wasn't much rock that night, Fall Out Boy's version of "We Didn't Start the Fire" with new lyrics about Cambridge Analytica and Tiger King was pretty fun, and Demi Lovato gave her fans a taste of what to expect from her REVAMPED record, which comes out on September 15. The former Disney Channel star blew her set away when she played rock versions of her hits "Heart Attack," "Sorry Not Sorry," and "Cool for the Summer." Her powerful singing brought the house down, and she gave her well-known songs a new spark.
Shakira made her first live VMA appearance in 17 years. She also made VMA history as the first South American artist to ever win the Video Vanguard lifetime achievement award. During a mesmerizing, witchy performance that celebrated her long career, she moved her famously non-lying hips. By the end of her 10-minute medley, the Colombian superstar made it clear that she should have won this award. Whether she was recreating the cave-dwelling, triple-jointed choreography from her legendary "She Wolf" video, dancing in a drum circle during "Objection," belly-dancing with knives for "Whenever, Wherever," or crowd-surfing like a seasoned punk-rocker for "BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53" before rising like
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have both been out of the press for a while, but they both came back together to perform their new song "Bongos," for which the video came out last week. The two had worked together before on the controversial song "WAP," which they played at the Grammy Awards in 2021. The song drew more than 1,000 complaints to the FCC, some of which said it had "pornographic content."
Minaj, who was also the night's host, opened with her new song, "Last Time I Saw You," a sparse ballad that shows off her singing skills. After the song was over, she took off her clothes to show a tight catsuit. Strobe lights filled the stage as she played a new, unnamed song that was more like rap. The show is a warm-up for her upcoming record Pink Friday 2, which will be her first album in five years. It will come out in November.
The MTV Video Music Awards are over for another year. MTV has done its job for the music business for another year by giving statues to all of the current and future pop stars of the day. It was a long night with a lot of acts, some of which were great and some of which were easy to forget. Because the show was so long, we even forgot about some great acts. It's not often that a show with so much going on feels so dull, but that's kind of what happened here. There was a lot going on at the 2023 VMA moments, but only some of it stood out.