Kendrick Lamar was the king of Sunday's 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, winning six awards on a night full of emotional performances, political moments, and a new, eye-popping Taylor Swift music video. Lamar's "Humble" won video of the year, best hip-hop video, direction, cinematography, art direction, and visual effects. He also gave an explosive performance of "Humble" and "DNA," backed by ninjas dancing near fire. But the VMAs, hosted by Katy Perry with performances from Miley Cyrus and Ed Sheeran, was tamer than most years, not relying on the shock value and wild antics of past shows, the AP reports. Instead, touching performances and powerful speeches (especially one by Pink) took center stage. Some highlights:
- Lamar's performance kicked off the three-hour show, followed by the premiere of Swift's video for "Look What You Made Me Do," which featured the singer dressed like a zombie in one scene and surrounded by slithering snakes in another. The video for the track, rumored to be a diss toward Kanye West, also featured Swift in a tub of diamonds, a cat mask, and a car that crashed.
- Logic performed his inspirational song "1-800-273-8255," named after the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Kesha introduced the performance and also offered words of encouragement: "As long as you don't give up on yourself, light will break through the darkness."
- Rock singer and Oscar winner Jared Leto remembered Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, who hanged himself in July. Leto also mentioned Chris Cornell, who hanged himself in May. "I think about his band, who were really his brothers, and I remember his voice," Leto said of Bennington. "That voice will live forever."
- The night also featured political moments focused on the Charlottesville violence. The Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendent of Gen. Robert E. Lee, told the audience: "As a pastor it is my duty to speak out against racism, America's original sin." Susan Bro, mother of slain protester Heather Heyer then entered the stage, telling the audience: "Only 15 days my ago, my daughter Heather was killed as she protested racism. I miss her but I know she's here tonight." Bro also announced she had established a foundation in her daughter's name to provide scholarships to activists.
- Paris Jackson also spoke out against hatred. "We must show these Nazi white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville, and all over the country, that as a nation with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence and their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist," Michael Jackson's daughter said before presenting an award.
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