The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) were held in Newark, N.J., for the first time on Monday night, and the performers, presenters and host Sebastian Maniscalco made sure to remind everyone at least every 10 minutes.
From New Jersey Devils hockey player P.K. Subban to the actors from The Sopranos, the Jersey references were definitely there, like Maniscalo’s joke that Bruce Springsteen was the Garden State’s only social media influencer.
But besides all the Jersey references, there were seven must-see moments from the show, including performances from Lizzo, Bad Bunny, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, J Balvin and, of course, Missy Elliott.
1. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s Señorita performance
Pickering, Ont.’s Mendes and rumoured girlfriend Cabello performed their latest collaboration Señorita for the first time ever at the 2019 VMAs.
They were surrounded by candles on stage and remained very close during the performance. There were many moments where their faces got close throughout the song, leaving fans wondering if they would kiss.
The pair, who are music’s most talked-about duo at the moment, did not end up kissing, but once Mendes stopped playing his guitar for a moment, they were able to re-enact the choreography from the Señorita music video.
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Instead of sharing a kiss during, they touched noses at the end of the song.
“The skin, the hair, the lips!” host Maniscalco said after they left the stage. “And give it up for Camila, too.”
2. Taylor Swift’s political moment
Swift shared the stage with her collaborator and co-executive producer Todrick Hall as she won two awards for her song You Need to Calm Down.
Swift brought up the cast of the music video to thank fans for supporting the message of the song, which she said was a world “where we are all treated equally under the law, regardless of who we love, regardless of how we identify.”
She noted the video prompted a petition for the Equality Act, legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
She said the petition “basically just says we all deserve equal rights under the law.”
“I want to thank everyone that signed that petition because it now has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” she continued.
She then looked down at an imaginary watch on her wrist and implied that the Trump administration is late and should address the petition.
The singer praised the cast of the video.
“My cast live their lives so authentically. Thank you for being the example that you are. I love you guys so much,” she concluded. “Thank you, MTV, for lifting up this point in this video. We love you.”
3. Missy Elliott’s performance and emotional Vanguard Award speech
Missy Elliott proved why she is one of the best and most innovative rappers of all time with an incredible medley of her most famous songs and music video looks, from the black puffy bag dress for The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) to camouflage for Get Ur Freak On.
In her return to the VMAs for the first time since 2003, Elliott was backed up by a talented group of dancers for songs like Pass That Dutch, Lose Control and Work It.
Elliott also brought out Alyson Stoner, who was the 10-year-old girl dancing in the rapper’s Work It music video.
The now-26-year-old Stoner joined Elliott’s dancers on stage, sparking nostalgia for 2003.
Accepting her Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Elliott said she would try to hold back tears, but the award meant so much to her.
“I have worked diligently for over two decades,” she said. “And I never thought that I would be standing up here receiving this award, so it means so much to me. I promise it don’t go unnoticed, the support and love that you have all shown me over the years.”
Elliott said she missed the late singer Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash.
She dedicated the award to the dance community as her dancers erupted behind her.
“When y’all get on the stage with these artists, y’all are not just props — y’all are the icing on the cake, y’all are the beat to the heart.”
4. John Travolta has an Adele Dazeem moment — except this time with Taylor Swift
In 2014, Travolta introduced Frozen star Idina Menzel as “Adele Dazeem” at the Oscars and he had a similar gaffe during this year’s VMAs.
The actor presented the award for video of the year to Swift for Calm Down but he appeared to hand the statues to former RuPaul’s Drag Race star Jade Jolie.
Jolie appeared in Swift’s Calm Down music video, dressed as the singer.
Many people took to Twitter to discuss the awkward moment.
5. Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s Qué Pretendes performance
The performance was Super Mario-esque, with the artists wearing inflatable custom-made cartoon costumes, surrounded by cartoon cacti and dancing inflatable animals. They even flew above the stage.
Many VMA viewers discussed the performance on Twitter and compared it to the popular video game.
6. Lizzo’s Truth Hurts, Good As Hell medley
Lizzo made her VMAs performance debut with a medley of her hit songs Truth Hurts and Good as Hell.
The singer and her dancers performed in front of a giant inflatable butt.
When Lizzo switched to Good as Hell, she stood on a podium and spoke about self-acceptance.
“Let me talk to y’all for a second,” she said. “I’m tired of the bullsh–. It’s so hard to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back.
“Feel good as hell because you deserve to feel good as hell.”
7. Cardi B wins best hip-hop video
Cardi B took home best hip-hop video for Money on Monday night.
She thanked her glam squad, makeup artist Erika La Pearl and hairstylist Tokyo Stylez for always making sure she looks her best in her videos.
The Money rapper also thanked her music video director Jora Frantzis.
“Since this is the Video Music Awards and everything, I really want to thank my music video team — first Jora Frantzis — that’s the director,” Cardi B said in her acceptance speech. “She gotta hear outta my mouth, ‘I look ugly. Edit my stomach, edit my butt. Smooth my cellulite out.’
“And I wanna thank my glam team. Erika, Tokyo, thank y’all so much. Without y’all, my music videos wouldn’t look like this. Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus!”
READ MORE: #VMAs on Twitter
—With files from the Associated Press