NEW YORK — Post Malone was joined on stage by Aerosmith to give a wild-verging-on-bizarre dual performance to close the MTV Video Music Awards.
Malone, wearing garb that looked like a toddler’s footie pajamas with yellow, blue and pink smiley faces, began the Monday night performance with fellow rapper 21 Savage on his hit “rockstar.”
He was then joined by the actual rock stars who are nearly 50 years his senior.
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.
With most of music industry’s top acts absent — from Beyonce to Bruno Mars — the awards show lacked star power and felt flat, and some of the winners turned heads — for the wrong reasons.
Exhibit A: Camila Cabello beat out Drake, Mars, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, and Post Malone for artist of the year.
“I can’t believe this is for me,” Cabello said Monday onstage.
Neither can we.
Exhibit B: Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and DJ Khaled won best collaboration for “Dinero” — a song that has peaked at No. 80 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart — besting the record-setting hit “Meant to Be,” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, and Mars and Cardi B’s anthemic “Finesse” remix.
The show, at Radio City Music Hall in New York, lacked oomph with its performances, too: Grande, backed by several female dancers, was a bore during “God Is a Woman,” but added some excitement when she was joined by her mother, grandmother, and cousin onstage at the end of the performance. Travis Scott, whose album is No. 1 for a second week, had strong energy while onstage, but the performance felt like it belonged more to singer James Blake, who is featured on Scott’s album and performed just as long as Scott during the segment.
Scott closed with kind words: “Rest in peace the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.”
The queen of soul got a less than royal tribute when Madonna came out to deliver a rambling story about Franklin’s music without any performance of the late singer’s classic songs.
Madonna presented the video of the year award to Cabello after talking at length about her own career.
A short archive video of Franklin was played before Madonna declared that Franklin “changed the course of my life.”
She ended the speech by saying “I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us, RESPECT.”
There was a political moment when Logic was joined onstage by young immigrants wearing T-shirts that read, “We are all human beings,” to protest the Trump Administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. The rapper, best known for the suicide prevention anthem “1-800-273-8255,” wore a T-shirt that read, “[Expletive] the wall.”
Lopez, who earned the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement, provided the night’s most energetic performance. She started off slow — Kylie Jenner and Scott’s unamused faces perfectly captured the vibe — but she hit a strong stride when she sang old smashes like “Jenny from the Block,” ‘’I’m Real” — where Ja Rule joined her onstage — and “All I Have,” which showed the skilled dancer’s vocal range.
But Lopez’s speech was more stirring than her fun performance: She was emotional as she thanked her children and beau Alex Rodriguez onstage.
She was teary-eyed and looked at her “two little angels,” as she called them, and said, “I stand here stronger and better than ever ... so thank you Max and Emme.” She called Rodriguez, who filmed her performance with his phone, “my twin soul.”
“My life is sweeter and better with you in it,” she said.
While Lopez’s speech went for the heart, Cardi B aimed for jokes. The rapper, in her well-known silly demeanor, “opened” the show — not with a performance, but with cute jokes. The new mom was onstage pretending to hold a baby, but she then revealed to the audience that it was actually a Moonman, which she won earlier in the night for song of the summer for her No. 1 hit, “I Like It,” with Bad Bunny and J Balvin.
Cardi B, who gave birth last month, also won best new artist and said people told her she was “gambling your career” when she decided to become a mother.
“I had the baby, I carried the baby and now I’m still winning awards,” she said.
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