MTV VMAs: Lil Nas X wins big, Machine Gun Kelly closes out show

Lil Nas X won Video of the Year at the 2021 MTV VMAs on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 3 | Lil Nas X won Video of the Year at the 2021 MTV VMAs on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Lil Nas X was the big winner at the 2021 MTV VMAs on Sunday as he took home the award for Video of the Year.

Lil Nas X won for his song "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." David Lee Roth presented the award.


"First I want to say thank you to the gay agenda -- let's go, gay agenda!" Lil Nas X said while accepting the award.

Machine Gun Kelly closed out the show with a performance of "Papercuts," joined by drummer Travis Barker. The pair were introduced by Kelly's girlfriend, Megan Fox, and Barker's girlfriend, Kourtney Kardashian.

Kelly rose from a grave and wore spikes around his face for the performance.


Busta Rhymes rapped a number of his hit songs from throughout his career, including his verse from Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now."

Olivia Rodrigo won Best New Artist.

Kelly won Best Alternative for "My Ex's Best Friend," featuring Blackbear.

Kelly licked Fox's tongue and apologized to the director of the music video during his acceptance speech. The rocker said he argued with the director on set, but they ended up winning the award.

Alicia Keys gave an outside performance of her song "LaLa (Unlocked)," featuring Swae Lee.

The 40-year-old was wearing a sparkling gold outfit and later went to a piano to sing "Empire State of Mind."

Boy band legends AJ McLean, Lance Bass and Nick Lachey presented the award for Best K-Pop, which was won by BTS for their song "Butter." BTS accepted the honor virtually.

The Foo Fighters were presented with the Global Icon Award. The band was presented the award by Billie Eilish, who said the Foo Fighters have been carrying the torch for rock for 26 years.


This was the first time the Global Icon Award has been given out at the VMAs.

The Foo Fighters then took the stage for a hard-rocking performance featuring multiple songs from their catalogue.

Frontman Dave Grohl used the acceptance speech to thank everyone at MTV past and present, including Kurt Loder.

Doja Cat and SZA won Best Collaboration award for their song "Kiss Me More." Doja Cat donned a unique outfit that covered her entire body and resembled a quilt.

"I look like a worm, this is dope," Doja Cat, the host of the show, said while accepting the award.

Normani took the stage to sing "Wild Side." The singer was moved across the stage by a rope she was holding onto and ended the set by dancing on top of another woman.


Travis Scott won the Best Hip Hop award for "Franchise," featuring Young Thug and MIA. Scott thanked his daughter Stormi and told his fans to spread love.

Chloe, of Chloe X Halle fame, gave a solo performance of her song "Have Mercy." She was introduced by her sister Halle Bailey.

Justin Bieber won the coveted Artist of the Year award. Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift were also nominated.

Bieber mentioned living in unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how music brings people together during his acceptance speech. Conor McGregor of UFC fame presented the award.

"Music is such an amazing opportunity and an amazing outlet to be able to reach people and to able to bring us all together. And that's why we're here right now right. We're all here together and we got a lot more in common then we don't," Bieber said.

Doja Cat also performed her song "Been Like This" while floating in midair around a halo. She landed on the stage and transitioned into her song "You Right."


Camila Cabello was joined by multiple dancers and guitar players for a performance of "Don't Go Yet."

The set began with a cinematic, black and white opening. Cabello also introduced her boyfriend Shawn Mendes, who performed his new song "Summer of Love" featuring Tainy.

Cabello blew a kiss toward the camera while mentioning Mendes.

Eilish won the Video for Good award for her song "Your Power." She thanked fans and said that young women need to be protected at all cost.

Eilish was presented the award from Avril Lavigne. She thanked Lavigne and mentioned how she received a kiss from Alicia Keys earlier in the night.

Billy Porter introduced Lil Nas X, who performed both "Industry Baby," featuring Jack Harlow, and "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." Harlow performed with Lil Nas X.


The rapper was joined by a marching band for "Industry Baby" and later danced with a group of men wearing pink underwear for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)."

Cyndi Lauper made a surprise appearance and talked about winning an award at the first VMAs in 1984. Lauper then spoke about how women want equal rights, equal pay and control over their own bodies.

"You know, fundamental rights," she said, before she handed Bieber the Best Pop award for "Peaches," featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon.

Kacey Musgraves was surrounded by candlelight as she sang "Star-Crossed." Twenty One Pilots took the stage next for "Saturday."

Lead singer Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots announced that his wife, Jenna Joseph, is pregnant with their second child together.

Jennifer Lopez presented the first award of the night, Song of the Year. Rodrigo won for her song "Driver's License."

"This has been the most magical year of my life," Rodrigo said as she thanked her fans.

The singer had previously descended down onto a purple-colored stage on balloons to perform "Good 4 U" after Bieber exited the stage from performing "Ghost."

Madonna kicked off the awards show. The pop icon starred in a cinematic opening as a taxi took her to Times Square in New York. The music legend discussed starting her career around the same time as MTV and how they are both still around.

Madonna entered the stage and wished MTV a happy 40th anniversary before Bieber and The Kid Laroi appeared for the night's first performance for Laroi's song "Stay."

The 38th annual MTV VMAs took place live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Moments from the 2021 MTV VMA red carpet

Presenter and performer Ed Sheeran arrives on the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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