Here are five highlights from Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, which took place at various locations around New York City, as well as on an L.A. soundstage:

Host Keke Palmer began by dedicating the awards show to the late Chadwick Bosemancalling him “an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered.”

Keke also gave a colorful performance of her single “Snack” from her latest EP, Virgo Tendencies Vol. 1. 

Chloe x Halle shut down the pre-show with a dazzling performance of their song “Ungodly Hour,” named after their latest album. 

The Weeknd opened the show with a dramatic, bloody performance of his song “Blinding Lights,” from atop the Edge at Hudson Yards in New York City; it concluded with a digital fireworks display over the Hudson River. The song also won two awards: Video of the Year and Best R&B. “Justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” The Weeknd said during his acceptance speech.

DaBaby gave fans a medley performance of “Peephole,” “Blind,” and “Rockstar,” from his latest album Blame It On Baby. Of course, the North Carolina rapper recruited his favorite dance troupe Jabbawockeez to join him for the performance, which referenced both COVID-19 and police brutality with staging that included face masks and police cars. DaBaby made another a statement when he stood on top of a police car while a Jabbawockeez member held up a sign that said, “Stop killing us.” 

Singer H.E.R. won the socially-conscious Video for Good award for “I Can’t Breathe,” which was written in response to the murders of George FloydBreonna Taylor, and countless other black lives lost to police brutality.

“[I’m] still dreaming!!!” she captioned on Instagram. “But it’s not about me, it’s about the movement. Thank you to everyone who helped create this visual!!!!”

By Rachel George
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