Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican Latin trap and reggaeton artist who’s among the world’s biggest stars, scored MTV’s artist of the year award on Sunday at the annual Video Music Awards.
But the performer was conspicuously absent from the show: he was busy with his own blockbuster tour, playing the second night of a sold-out concert at Yankee Stadium that over the weekend drew some 100,000 fans.
Bad Bunny, wearing a satin pink suit and white sunglasses, accepted the award via video and also delivered a seismic performance of his smash Titi Me Pregunto from the baseball stadium in New York, where the song has soundtracked the streets for months.
“Thank you so much, New York,” the 28-year-old said in Spanish to resounding applause.
“From the beginning I always believed that I could be great, that I could be one of the biggest stars in the world, without changing my culture, my language,” he said. “I’m Benito Antonio Martinez from Puerto Rico − for the whole world.”
In a sure sign that pandemic-stymied touring was back in full swing, another of the year’s biggest stars, Harry Styles, also couldn’t make it to the VMAs − which aired from New Jersey’s Prudential Center − due to his own show at Madison Square Garden.
The artist who dropped Harry’s House this year also accepted his award for the year’s best album via video, before heading back to his own global concert run.
Taylor Swift was also among the night’s big winners, turning heads on the red carpet in a dress dripping with crystals before winning the night’s top prize of music video of the year for her 10-minute-long film “All Too Well.”
“I’m so proud of what we made,” said the 32-year-old, who has been making good on her vow to re-record her first six albums so she can control the rights to them.
“We wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans,” Swift said onstage. “Because I wouldn’t be able to re-record my albums if it weren’t for you. You emboldened me to do that.”
She then gave fans a gift in return, announcing that her new album will come out October 21.
Shortly after the broadcast’s end, the megastar revealed the new project’s name.
“Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life, will be out October 21. Meet me at midnight,” she wrote on social media.
Hip hop superstar Nicki Minaj reigned over the evening as the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Video Vanguard Award.
Wearing her signature pink wig, the hip-hop icon from Queens delivered a medley of her hits including Super Bass and her most recent single Super Freaky Girl.
Brazil’s Anitta also turned heads with a booty-popping performance before winning the award for best Latin video for Envolver.
“I was born and raised in the ghetto of Brazil, and for whoever was born there, we would never think this was possible,” she said when accepting the trophy.
Iconic stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong awarded the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the Global Icon Award, before the California rockers performed and also paid tribute to Taylor Hawkins, the late Foo Fighters drummer.
Eminem and Snoop Dogg opened their performance sitting on a couch as Snoop smoked a giant − albeit fake − blunt, before the pair headed to the metaverse for a trippy, animated performance of their latest collaboration From the D 2 the LBC.
Marshmello and Khalid performed Numb with neon, disorienting visuals that created a brief but heady rave effect, while South Korea’s Blackpink gave their first show at a US awards night ever.
Lizzo also performed before scoring the Video For Good award − which honours videos with social or political messages − for her song About Damn Time.
Wearing a cone-bra corseted dress that recalled Madonna, the superstar thanked fans for voting for her to receive the award before nodding to US politics.
“Vote to change some of these laws that are oppressing us,” the star urged.
And at the awards show that’s historically far better known for its antics than actual prizes, Johnny Depp − fresh off his controversial defamation trial against his ex-partner Amber Heard − appeared as the MTV Moonman, his head digitally superimposed on the flying astronaut.
“You know what? I needed the work,” said the 59-year-old actor.
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