Queen B wins the night at VMAs

The Myanmar Times - - World -

BEY­ONCE on Au­gust 28 dom­i­nated the MTV Video Mu­sic Awards as she took home top prizes and awed the au­di­ence in a fiery dance med­ley with a sub­tle po­lit­i­cal touch.

The pop su­per­star won Video of the Year for “For­ma­tion”, the most out­spo­ken work of her ca­reer, as well as Best Fe­male Video for “Hold Up”. The two tracks ap­peared on

Lemon­ade, Bey­once’s lat­est al­bum which she re­leased in a sur­prise tie-in with a film of the same name that paid trib­ute to AfricanAmer­i­can women. Bey­once stole the spot­light at the gala party in New York’s Madi­son Square Gar­den by per­form­ing a Lemon­ade med­ley of more than 16 min­utes, man­ag­ing even to change out­fits in a set that cul­mi­nated in the stage erupt­ing in fire.

In one of the most strik­ing mo­ments, the sound of a single gun-shot rang out as her cir­cle of an­gelic-clad dancers each col­lapsed in a fog of red. “For­ma­tion”, di­rected by Melina Mat­soukas, of­fered sol­i­dar­ity with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment against po­lice bru­tal­ity with of­fi­cers de­picted rais­ing their hands as if un­der ar­rest.

“I ded­i­cate this award to the peo­ple of New Or­leans. God bless you guys,” Bey­once said as she ac­cepted the award for “For­ma­tion”, which was mu­si­cally in­spired by the south­ern city’s bounce hip-hop scene.

Bey­once ar­rived at the show, broad­cast to more than 120 coun­tries from New York’s Madi­son Square Gar­den, with the moth­ers of four young African-Amer­i­can men whose deaths have gal­vanised the United States – Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Os­car Grant and Trayvon Martin.

Martin, 17, was killed in 2012 by a white neigh­bor­hood guard, a cat­a­lyst mo­ment for Black Lives Mat­ter. Brown, Garner and Grant were all killed by law en­force­ment.

Singer Ali­cia Keys of­fered an­other of the night’s pow­er­ful mo­ments as she re­cited a poem she said was in­spired by civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr who de­liv­ered his land­mark “I Have a Dream” speech in Wash­ing­ton 53 years ago that day.

In a year marred by global con­flict and a bit­ter US pres­i­den­tial race, Keys, mov­ing seam­lessly from spo­ken word to a cap­pella, voiced hope that “maybe we can love some­body in­stead of pol­ish­ing a bomb”. “If war is holy and sex is ob­scene, then we got it twisted in this lu­cid dream / Bap­tised in bound­aries, schooled in skin, di­vided by dif­fer­ence, sex­u­al­ity and skin,” she re­cited.

The Video Mu­sic Awards, broad­cast to more than 120 coun­tries, have long been known more for their on-stage an­tics than the win­ners, and this year MTV de­cided to let the artists loose.

In one of the night’s most an­tic­i­pated mo­ments, rap su­per­star Kanye West – who last year used the oc­ca­sion to de­clare his in­ten­tion to run for pres­i­dent in 2020 – de­liv­ered a nearly stream-of-con­scious­ness speech about em­pow­er­ment.

As the au­di­ence chanted his stage-name Yeezy, West said that un­named wealthy white peo­ple warned him against com­par­ing him­self to Ap­ple founder Steve Jobs and en­ter­tain­ment pioneer Walt Dis­ney. But West said that the pair were among fewer than 10 true artis­tic heroes – and that the slim list also in­cludes him­self.

“Three keys to keep­ing peo­ple im­pov­er­ished are tak­ing away their es­teem, tak­ing away their re­sources and tak­ing away their role mod­els,” said West, who started his speech by de­plor­ing street killings in his na­tive Chicago.

He then pre­sented a racy new video for his song “Fade” featuring ac­tress and singer Teyana Tay­lor, who moved her body sen­su­ally in a gym be­fore a steamy shower scene.

The video marked a theme in the evening, if ac­ci­den­tal, of sex­u­alised ex­er­cise. Ari­ana Grande and Nicki Mi­naj re­ceived roars of crowd ap­proval for a sen­sual take on a work­out, with the pop star and rap­per danc­ing to­gether in a stage trans­formed into a gym full of highly phys­i­cal young men.

Drake won in the rap cat­e­gory for “Hot­line Bling”, one of the most pop­u­lar songs of the year.

But Drake did not ap­pear in time to ac­cept the award. Ac­cord­ing to the pre­sen­ter, rap icon Puff Daddy, the Toronto star got stuck in New York traf­fic. MTV pre­sented its Video Van­guard Award – named af­ter late King of Pop Michael Jack­son – to Ri­hanna, in recog­ni­tion to her con­tri­bu­tions to pop culture.

Ri­hanna opened the cer­e­mony with, aptly, “Don’t Stop the Mu­sic”, as she glided across the stage in a snug white T-shirt with a team of per­form­ers in match­ing laced out­fits.

In an ac­cep­tance speech, Ri­hanna pledged never to for­get her na­tive Bar­ba­dos.

Photo: AFP

Bey­once, who was recog­nised for two of the videos from her Lemon­ade al­bum, daz­zled dur­ing a 16-minute med­ley of songs from the record be­fore ac­cept­ing her awards.

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