Brutally honest reviews of every MTV VMAs performance, including Nicki Minaj and Lizzo




From Madonna voguing in Versailles to Beyoncé's baby bump reveal, the MTV Video Music Awards have never skimped on high drama.

The fireworks continued at Sunday's show in Newark, New Jersey, where Taylor Swift celebrated her video of the year win for "All Too Well" by announcing new album "Midnights." Elsewhere during the ceremony, Eminem and Snoop Dogg teamed up for a NFT-inspired performance, while Video Vanguard Award honoree Nicki Minaj brought a stripper pole to the Prudential Center stage for a career-spanning medley of her greatest hits.

Here's our ranking of the best and worst performances from the night:

MTV VMAs 2022: Must-see photos of Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Blackpink

Eminem (left) and Snoop Dogg
Eminem (left) and Snoop Dogg  

13. Eminem and Snoop Dogg, 'From the D 2 the LBC'

Two rap icons, taking the VMAs stage together for their first collaboration in two decades. It should've been an instant highlight of this year's show - but instead, Eminem and Snoop Dogg's "From the D 2 the LBC" got lost in the metaverse. The hip-hop stars used Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs for the song's music video, and took the sidelines for the bulk of Sunday's "performance" as their cartoon avatars rapped inside an oversized pinball machine and spider web, among other computer-generated locales. It was only toward the end of the song that it finally came alive, as Eminem and Snoop "woke up" on a couch onstage and finished the track in person. Props for trying something different, but maybe keep your NFT away from our MTV next time.

Taylor Swift announces new album 'Midnights': 'A journey through terrors and sweet dreams'

Kane Brown
Kane Brown  

12. Kane Brown, 'Grand'

On Sunday, Kane Brown became the first male country singer ever to perform on the VMAs. Bathed in green and blue neon lights on an outdoor stage, the 28-year-old crossover artist made every moment count as he sang a sprightly rendition of "Grand," his pop-leaning anthem about appreciating the big and small things in life.

Khalid and Marshmello
Khalid and Marshmello  

11. Marshmello and Khalid, 'Numb'

Khalid's silky vocals were characteristically flawless, as he and electronic artist Marshmello took the stage to perform upbeat team-up "Numb," their second collaboration after 2017's "Silence." If only we could've actually seen what was going on: Because of a psychedelic camera filter, much of the performance was extremely blurred and out of focus, with multiple viewers complaining on Twitter that it made them dizzy.

The most outrageous MTV VMA moments ever: From Britney Spears' snake to Lady Gaga's meat dress

Blackpink
Blackpink  

10. Blackpink, 'Pink Venom'

The K-pop quartet made their VMAs debut in sensational style, appearing from a cloud of pink smoke to perform their latest single "Pink Venom." Dressed in all black and flanked by backup dancers, the girl group deftly executed tight choreography that was as punchy and sultry as the song's lyrics.

Ryan Castro (left) and J Balvin
Ryan Castro (left) and J Balvin  

9. J Balvin and Ryan Castro, 'Nivel de Perreo'

The Colombian superstars took over the telecast early in the night for a raunchy rendition of their collaboration "Nivel de Perreo," backed by a line of faceless, latex-clad dancers straight out of "American Horror Story." But the real scene-stealer was a projection of a giant, silvery woman in a bikini, bringing some "Jack and the Beanstalk" realness to the VMAs as she twerked and towered over the crowd for the song's entire three minutes.

Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny  

8. Bad Bunny, 'Tití Me Preguntó'

Bad Bunny, who played a pair of headlining shows at New York's Yankee Stadium this weekend, delivered a dynamic remote performance of "Tití Me Preguntó," from his chart-dominating fifth album "Un Verano Sin Ti." The sunglass-clad reggaeton superstar had no trouble captivating the enormous stadium audience, making the VMAs feel like his own personal concert as he set Twitter ablaze by kissing male and female dancers.

Lizzo
Lizzo  

7. Lizzo, '2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)'

After singing a few bars of her infectious No. 1 hit "About Damn Time," Lizzo channeled Tom Hanks circa 1988's "Big": playing a light-up floor piano with her feet as she launched into her high-energy new single "2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)." Performing upstage and away from the audience, she sometimes got lost among the eye-popping projections. Still, it was hard not to get swept up in the genre-smashing artist's enthusiasm, particularly as she danced in a bubblegum pink ensemble against a backdrop of dozens of miniature Lizzos.

Brendon Urie of Panic!
Brendon Urie of Panic!  

6. Panic! At the Disco, 'Don't Let the Light Go Out'

Brendon Urie's unmistakable voice was on display in "Don't Let the Light Go Out," as the frontman crooned directly to the camera before jamming with his band on the hood of a car. Pyrotechnics lit up the backdrop as the performance went from black and white to color, delivering a genuinely thrilling climax to this year's ceremony.

Damiano David of MÃ¥neskin
Damiano David of MÃ¥neskin  

5. Måneskin, 'Supermodel'

Wait, what happened here? Glam rock up-and-comers Måneskin were midway through a fiery performance of "Supermodel" when the camera cut away from the band for nearly half the song, only returning to focus right at the very end. Did a camera operator make a major gaffe? Or was there a wardrobe malfunction for lead singer Damiano David, who flashed his bare bum to the audience while rocking leather chaps? Regardless of what went down, Måneskin certainly has our attention.

Anitta
Anitta  

4. Anitta, 'Envolver'

Anitta, who won the best Latin award for viral hit "Envolver," is quickly proving why she's one of the fastest-rising stars in the U.S. right now. Descending a white set of stairs in a red bodysuit, the Brazilian singer oozed personality as she led her dancers in some genuinely steamy, and then joyous, choreography.

Anthony Kiedis, Flea and John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anthony Kiedis, Flea and John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers  

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers, 'Black Summer' and 'Can't Stop'

Sometimes, all you need are instruments and a stage. Red Hot Chili Peppers forewent any bells and whistles for their VMAs performance, putting their fierce musicianship front and center as they blazed their way through new song "Black Summer" and set-list staple "Can't Stop." The veteran rockers, who took home the Global Icon Award, were the epitome of cool in red fishnet shirts and high yellow socks, with pink-haired bassist Flea earning screams as he cheekily gyrated during the electrifying intro of "Can't Stop."

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj  

2. Nicki Minaj, Video Vanguard Award medley

And that's why she's called the queen of rap. As this year's recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, which honors an artist's impact on music videos and pop culture, Nicki Minaj blew through nearly a dozen of her most recognizable songs in a bedazzled pink getup, complete with a giant bow. After a too-rushed beginning that didn't give her career-making "Monster" verse its proper due, the rapper settled into a groove with crowd favorites "Moment 4 Life" and "Super Bass" as she twerked and strutted across the Barbie Dreamhouse-inspired stage. She ended the medley with a fun and frisky take on her Rick James-sampling "Super Freaky Girl," a deserved song of summer if we've ever heard one.

Jack Harlow and Fergie
Jack Harlow and Fergie  

1. Jack Harlow and Fergie, 'First Class' and 'Glamorous'

Fresh off his breakout success last summer with Lil Nas X's "Industry Baby," Jack Harlow delivered an instant classic VMAs performance. Dressed as a flight attendant, the suave rapper walked down the aisle of an airplane as he performed his chart-topper "First Class," playfully interacting with "passengers" including Avril Lavigne along the way. He then made his way to the Prudential Center stage, revealing surprise guest Fergie, whose 2007 hit "Glamorous" is heavily sampled in the track. The screaming crowd - which included multiple cutaways to Taylor Swift - was gleefully riding the nostalgia high, with Fergie and Harlow their effortlessly charismatic captains.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: VMAs 2022: Best, worst performances ranked, from Nicki Minaj to Lizzo

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