With most of music industry's top acts absent, the two-hour MTV Video Music Awards lacked star power and felt flat—and it was up to a pop veteran to bring the house down. Jennifer Lopez, who earned the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement, provided the night's most energetic act as she gave a lengthy performance of her hits, the AP
reports. But Lopez's speech was more stirring than her powerful performance: She was emotional as she thanked her children and beau Alex Rodriguez onstage at Radio City Music Hall in New York. "My life is sweeter and better with you in it," she said. In other highlights:
- Cardi B, the night's leading nominee, new mama, and super-hot rapper, opened the VMAs swaddling a precious bundle. The rapper, who gave birth to daughter Kulture Kiari Cephus just weeks ago, told the crowd Monday she had a surprise in her arms and pulled back the blanket to reveal a Moonman trophy. She had already won an award before the show began, song of the summer for "I Like It," with Bad Bunny and J Balvin. She was nominated for 10 awards and won three.
- The queen of soul got a less than royal tribute when Madonna delivered a rambling story about Aretha Franklin's music without any performance of the late singer's classics. Madonna presented the video of the year award, the night's top prize, to Camila Cabello after talking at length about her own career. She ended by saying "I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us, RESPECT."
- There was one posthumous winner: Avicii, who died in April, won for best dance for "Lonely Together" alongside Rita Ora.
- The immigration debate took center stage in a performance criticizing the Trump administration's policy of separating families at the border. Wearing white T-shirts reading "We Are All Human Beings," more than two dozen immigrant children and their parents joined Logic and Ryan Tedder on stage. The children, including younger kids who appeared intimidated by the crowd, stood in a line, some swaying and clapping to Logic's new song, "One Day."
- Post Malone was joined on stage by Aerosmith to give a wild-verging-on-bizarre dual performance to close the awards. Malone picked up a guitar and played along as Aerosmith dropped a short segment of "Dream On" then broke into 1975's "Toys in the Attic." Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and singer Steven Tyler leaned into the same mic as the man-bunned, face-tattooed Malone as all three screamed the song's chorus.
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