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28 August 2017

MTV VMAs: Kendrick Lamar dominates as awards show gets political

Kendrick Lamar with his haulImage copyright
Getty Images

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Kendrick Lamar with his haul of awards for HUMBLE

The MTV Video Music Awards are always a big night for pop music, but were also dominated by political statements at a fiery show in Los Angeles.

Artists spoke out against white supremacy and urged suicide awareness during the awards on Sunday night.

Transgender military personnel attended, days after President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.

Kendrick Lamar was the night’s big winner, picking up six awards including video of the year for HUMBLE.

The video, directed by Dave Meyers, takes a wry look at the rapper’s growing fame and sees him dressing up as a pope and taking part in a Last Supper.

Ed Sheeran was named Artist of the Year and Fifth Harmony got the Best Pop Video award for Down.

Taylor Swift was a no-show – perhaps wise given her history with awards host Katy Perry – but won best collaboration for her track with Zayn, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.

And she debuted the video for Look What You Made Me Do during the awards.

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Reuters

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Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar opened the show in LA

But it was politics that has grabbed most of the night’s headlines.

There was an appearance from the mother of Heather Heyer, killed during a protest against a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Susan Bro handed out the Fight Against the System Award, 15 days after Ms Heyer’s death.

Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”

All six nominees for the award shared the prize. Somali nominee K’naan, whose cover of a Hamilton track paid tribute to the work of immigrants, wore a mock Make America Great Again slogan written in Arabic.

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Susan Bro, the mother of the Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer announced a foundation in her daughter’s name with a descendant of Robert E Lee

Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, also spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville, calling out “Nazi white supremacist jerks”.

“We as a nation with liberty as our slogan – we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist.”

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AFP/getty

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Paris Jackson mocked President Trump but called for unity after Charlottesville violence

Artists mostly avoided referring to the US president directly, but criticised his policies and events.

Katy Perry, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, mocked Mr Trump with the new award: “Listen, guys, this is one election where the popular vote actually matters… so vote online, but hurry up, before some random Russian pop star wins!”

And four serving transgender service members, along with two veterans, joined stars on the red carpet at The Forum – after getting approval from The Pentagon.

Suicide awareness

Musician Logic performed a powerful rendition of his song 1-800-273-8255 (named after the US suicide prevention hotline) with the lyrics: “I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die today.”

He shared the stage with survivors of suicide attempts wearing “You are not alone” T-shirts.

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Getty Images

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Kesha introduced Logic’s performance by saying: “As long as you don’t give up on yourself, light will break through the darkness”

Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto paid tribute to vocalists Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell who both took their own lives earlier this year.

“If there is anyone out there who is watching this tonight who feels like there is no hope,” he said, “Hear me now: you are not alone.”

‘We don’t change’

Taylor Swift failed to appear at the event, but fans got a first look at Look What You Made Me Do – which sees a zombie Taylor in a graveyard, with a tombstone that reads “here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation”.

The video has been watched more than 13 million times on Youtube already.

Earlier this year, MTV announced it was abandoning traditional male and female categories, switching to gender-neutral awards instead.

Pink won the Video Vanguard award and used her speech to give a message to her six-year-old daughter Willow, who turned up to the event with her mum in a matching suit.

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Getty Images

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Pink told her daughter Willow that beauty comes in all forms

Pink said Willow told her she was “the ugliest girl I know” and looked like “a boy with long hair” – so the singer made a slideshow of “androgynous rock stars” like David Bowie and Prince.

The 37-year-old singer told her daughter that stars like them “carry on and wave their flag and inspire the rest of us” and that she’d been criticised too for her looks.

“So, baby girl, we don’t change, we take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl and we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty,” she said.

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Getty Images

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Host Katy Perry closed the show with a performance of Swish Swish with Nicki Minaj

Kendrick Lamar’s opening performance had given a message about police brutality.

And rapper Cardi B also touched on the issue when she gave a shout-out to NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has been sidelined after protesting against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before games.

“As long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you,” she said.


Full list of winners:

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Reuters

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Ed Sheeran beat Kendrick Lamar to Artist of the Year

Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran

Best collaboration: Zayn and Taylor Swift – I Don’t Wanna Live Forever

Best New Artist: Khalid

Best Hip Hop: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

Best Pop: Fifth Harmony feat. Gucci Mayne – Down

Best Fight Against the System: The Hamilton Mixtape – Immigrants (We Get the Job Done), Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful, John Legend – Surefire, Logic feat Damian Lemar Hudson – Black Spiderman, Big Sean – Light, Taboo feat. Shailene Woodley – Stand up/ Stand N Rock #NoDapl

Best Direction: Dave Meyers and The Little Homies (for Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE)

Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE

Best Art Direction: Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE

Best Choreography: Kanye West – Fade

Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Vert – XO Tour L1if3

Best Visual Effects: Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley – Chained to the Rhythm

Best Editing: Young Thug – Wyclef Jean

Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – Pink


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