Music News: 2020 MTV VMAs and the best videos to come out of quarantine

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The Current Music News for Aug. 31, 2020 (MPR Video)

Last night, MTV threw an unprecedented socially distanced Video Music Awards ceremony. The Weeknd took Video of the Year for "Blinding Lights," but the night's biggest winner overall was Lady Gaga. Long known for her distinctive videos, Gaga grabbed five VMAs including Artist of the Year. The winners and nominees were also testament to the rising popularity of K-pop, with BTS winning four awards and BLACKPINK taking Song of the Summer for "How You Like That."

Gaga's pandemic fashion included a series of face masks: she wore a different one for every speech, and with five wins, that took a lot of masks. "Wear a mask," she said at one point. "It's a sign of respect." The evening's speeches also contained numerous references to Black Lives Matter, including those made by Keke Palmer — the first woman of color to host the VMAs since VJ Downtown Julie Brown back in the '80s. Performances included Miley Cyrus climbing back on her wrecking ball, BTS bringing their famously tight choreography, a throwback appearance by Black Eyed Peas, and a masked duet between Gaga and Ariana Grande.

This year's VMA nominees included some of the best music videos to come out of the quarantine era. In fact, there was a whole category for Best Quarantine Performance. Nominees in that category included Chloe & Halle's sparkly rendition of "Do It" for MTV's own Prom-athon, John Legend's #TogetherAtHome concert series, and Lady Gaga's moving performance of "Smile" from the One World: Together at Home benefit. The Moon Man went to the Latin American boy band CNCO, for their MTV Unplugged at Home performance. No bias there, I'm sure.

There was an even more intimate category for Best Music Video from Home. Nominees included Twenty One Pilots, John Legend, 5 Seconds of Summer, the somehow still relevant blink-182, and Drake — whose "Toosie Slide" inspired a million more music videos from home in the form of TikTok dance videos. The winners, though, were Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande for their extremely on-point duet "Stuck with U" — a video incorporating footage of fans stuck at home with each other, released to benefit the First Responders Children's Foundation.

From high-polish productions executed at a social distance to cozy clips of quarantine lovebirds, this year's best music videos saw artists rising to the challenge of what's looking like it's going to be our not-so-new normal at least through the winter. Appropriately, the Best New Artist winner was Doja Cat — who broke out with D.I.Y. videos like her surreal "Mooo!" This year, just as we were heading into lockdown, she had a number one hit with "Say So."

We'll leave you with the winner of the Video for Good category, which had nominees including Anderson .Paak's "Lockdown" and Billie Eilish's "All the Good Girls Go to Hell." The award went to H.E.R., whose video for "I Can't Breathe" benefits Black Lives Matter and draws attention to Black victims of police violence.


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