• The Realest Moments of the 2014 MTV VMAs

    Of all the awards shows out there, we love the MTV VMAs because of their relevance. When it comes to pop culture, it’s all about artists who are bold, unafraid to speak to the times, and not concerned with what came before them. The VMAs share those values. They’re not solely about awarding artists who’ve been in the game for decades (though many award-winners have), nor music videos that are epic, self-serious, or all-encompassing (though the show is filled with world class video work).

    The VMAs are all about giving credence to artists that matter to the new generation of music fans right now. In that way, the VMAs are some of the realest music awards out there. And in fitting fashion, as we watched the exceptional performances, endearing tributes and speeches, and exhilarating buzz of so many people who matter in music is one room, we chose the realest moments of the night to recap.

    Click through the thumbnails above to relive the show, or check out the highlights if you missed the broadcast.

  • Beyoncé’s Vanguard Award Medley Performance

    When Beyoncé released her self-titled, seventh studio album out of the blue, it was completely unprecedented. It wasn’t just a musical accomplishment, though it debuted at number one—just like the four other studio albums in Beyoncé’s catalog. It used the power of visuals to reclaim the art of the album in an age ruled by instantly-gratifying digital singles and one-offs. MTV’s Video Vanguard Award recognizes artists whose careers significantly influenced MTV culture. Dropping an album with 17 complete music videos, Beyoncé undoubtedly earned her place alongside musicians like David Bowie, Madonna, and Michael and Janet Jackson. In celebration of the honor she performed a medley encompassing every song on her fifth studio album before accepting the award from husband Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy. Watch it on MTV.com. 
  • Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J “Break Free/Anaconda/Bang Bang” Medley Performance

    Three of the strongest voices in music today joined forces when Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J took the stage at the VMAs. Ariana stunned in a crystal-studded body suit, showcasing not only her exceptional vocal range, but a beyond-her-years ability to captivate a stadium crowd. Nicki’s smash hit “Anaconda,” is the latest in the undisputed queen of hip-hop’s series of playful, provocative home runs. Finally, the two joined a statuesque, soulful Jessie J to perform their collaborative single “Bang Bang,” and nearly took the entire Forum down in the process. Check it out on MTV.com. 
  • Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow” Performance

    Hip-hop’s resident blonde bombshell, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea called on friend and fellow blonde, Rita Ora to perform their brand new top ten single “Black Widow.” In sleek diamond-crusted bodysuits, the duo gave a performance that would make anyone shiver at the thought of crossing them in the game of love. Then again, getting a chance to take out either one of these talented musicians with thousands of fans, and all the potential in the world probably isn’t something too many people would pass up either. Just make sure not to mess with them! They explain the consequences of a dishonest lover pretty clearly in the song, watch them perform it live on MTV.com. 
  • Katy Perry and RiFF RAFF Pay Homage to Britney and Justin With All-Denim Fits

    Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake donned two of the most iconic VMA outfits in history when they walked the red carpet wearing custom matching denim looks—a floor length gown for Spears, and a (Canadian) tuxedo for Timberlake. Last night Katy Perry teamed up with Mad Decent signee and rapper RiFF RAFF to pay homage to what might be the world’s most famous unorthodox jeans in history. Check it out above.
  • Usher’s “She Came To Give It To You” Performance

    For the third time in his career Usher took the VMA stage last night. Gearing up to release his next album, the smooth operator donned an all-white outfit, displayed his signature dance moves, and brought out a fur-wrapped Nicki Minaj for a feature verse. Debuting brand new material from the upcoming Everything You Can Imagine, he took cues from ‘50s Brazilian Bossa Nova style and mixed them with cutting edge choreography and musical production, courtesy of his friend Pharrell. To cap off the night, we paired up with Usher to release another brand new song from the album called “Believe Me.” Stream it here and check out his medley performance of “Good Kisser/She Came To Give It To You” on MTV. 
  • Sam Smith’s Performance of “Stay With Me”

    Breakout vocalist Sam Smith gave a heart wrenching performance of his single, “Stay With Me,” backed by a gospel chorus. It was a particularly stripped down moment during a night of enough flashing lights to illuminate all of Inglewood. To top it all off, Kendall and Kylie Jenner swayed arm in arm throughout his set, mouthing every word to the melancholy ballad. Check it out on MTV.com.