No matter how many award shows we watch, it’s hard to turn down an opportunity to see our favorite stars all gussied up (for better or for worse—we see you, Amber Rose) and showing us why they’re hot. But let’s be real: no matter the lineup, we’re all just looking for those few special moments, be it scandalous, funny, emotional or spontaneous. And last night at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, though the lineup included Nicki Minaj and Usher, it was really all about Beyoncé. There, I said it.
Nominated for eight awards of which she won none, Bey was honored with the coveted Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and performed for 20 minutes. Here are four of the night’s blackest moments.
1. Moment of Silence for Michael Brown
Hip-hop artist Common, presented the award for best hip-hop video, and asked the crowd for a moment of silence to honor the events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“For the past two weeks, the eyes of the nation have been on Ferguson, Missouri,” Common said. “The people in Ferguson and St. Louis, and communities across the country, have used their voices to call for justice and change to let everyone know that each and every one of our lives matters. Hip-hop has always been about truth and it’s been a powerful instrument of social change. From Melle Mel to Public Enemy to Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop has always presented a voice for the revolution.”
Then Common requested a moment of silence for Brown and “peace in this country and the world.”
2. Nicki’s Wardrobe Malfunction
The opening number at the 2014 VMA’s was a medley by Ariana Grande “Break Free,” Nicki Minaj “Anaconda,” and the two ladies with Jessie J for her hit “Bang Bang.”
While Nicki Minaj made it through the raunchy “Anaconda” without a hitch, when she tried to make a quick outfit change off camera into a black dress for “Bang Bang,” something went wrong. When it was time for Nicki to contribute her verses on “Bang Bang,” she joined the singers onstage while holding the front of her dress together to prevent that complete wardrobe malfunction moment.
3. Usher Rocks Steady
We love Usher, we do, really. Backed by a bunch of dancers and a full band, he gave his usual solid performance with his new single “She Came to Give It to You” featuring Nicki Minaj, who made yet another appearance on the show sans wardrobe issues. Still, “Good Kisser” would have been our request this time around for the superstar, who last performed on the VMAs in 2010 when he rocked with “OMG.”
4. Queen Bey and Family
Leading up to her acceptance of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement, Beyoncé performed a medley of her latest album while rocking a gem-studded Tom Ford bodysuit. A beyond flawless performance, Bey put all of the night’s other performers to shame.
She began with “Mine,” one of the quieter songs on her Beyoncé album, but it was the perfect opener and a way to address those pesky breakup rumors that have been looming around she and Jay Z for the past few months. “Been having conversations about breakup and separations/I’m not feeling like myself since the baby/Are we gonna even make it, oh…”
“MTV, welcome to my world,” she uttered, and took us through mixes of “Haunted,” “Pretty Hurts,” “No Angel,” “Jealous, “Blow” and “Drunk in Love.”
In the middle of the “Drunk in Love” set, MTV flashed a glimpse of Jay Z holding Blue Ivy (flanked by Kelly Rowalnd and Jay’s longtime friend Ty Ty) in the audience… further shhhing those rumors.
Beyoncé finished up the set with more of her uptempo tracks like “Yoncé” and “***Flawless,” but closed with “Blue,” during which she teared up and dedicated “XO” to her fans. (We spied Bey’s mom Tina and her new man, actor Richard Lawson, in the audience jamming to “XO.”)
Her acceptance speech was short and sweet, but no one was mad, because Beyoncé shared a sweet surprise moment with Jay Z and Blue, who presented her with the moon man statue. Jay said: “The recipient of the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award and the greatest living entertainer,” Beyoncé.” A chocked up Beyoncé accepted the award saying, “I’m so full. Thank you. I have nothing to say, but I’m filled with so much gratitude. I thank God for this moment. I love you so much. Blue Blue, I love you. My beloved, I love you.” And they walked off the stage together.