Youmna El Halabi
VMA's 2020: A COVID-19 Award Show
In the event of 2020 being a year plagued by a worldwide pandemic, the 37th annual Video Music Awards was held virtually, hosted by Keke Palmer. Much like your recurrent, and by now normalized Zoom office conferences, the 2020 VMAs were primarily hosted from New York City, but with no in-person performances.
That didn’t stop the artists from putting on quite a show, some of which really caught our eyes—from sister-R&B-duo Chloe x Halle, to Florida-based reggaeton boyband CNCO.
Chloe x Halle have been cast in several minor acting roles since 2012 but truly started turning heads in 2018, and 2019 when Halle Bailey was cast in The Little Mermaid reboot. The sisters put on a very hypnotizing performance for their recent song “Ungodly Hour.” Clad in metallic white, the light play glinted quite nicely on their figure. They swayed to the catchy R&B rhythms, harmonizing wonderfully and emitting a very nice groovy beat that’s got you dancing in your chair.
And the same can be said about CNCO’s performance of their newest single “Beso.” As it is custom for reggaeton beats to get you movin’, CNCO’s VMAs show was fun, and exciting. With a drive-through theme, colourful light-play, and even catchier dance moves, the Miami-bound boyband ended their song with outstanding fireworks.
Calgary-born Tate McRae peeked our interest as well with her performance of “You Broke Me First.” Sitting in an empty room on a desk chair, looking straight into the camera while she sings the lyrics, hues of red, purple and yellow were complimenting the intensity of the song—warm tones for cold words, one would say as she puts her broken heart in words through her music. The Canadian singer was first noticed in 2019, after record labels watched her YouTube performance of her first song, “One Day” in 2017. Her debut EP, “All The Things I Never Said” came out in January.
Making his VMA debut, Jack Harlow stole the show in his own way, performing “What’s Poppin’” from his EP Sweet Action. Filmed inside the KFC Yum Center, Harlow sang a pretty censored version of his new hit, cheekily smiling when obvious words were altered. The video was quite sly in showcasing underlying messages. The 22-year-old rapper wore current Utah Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell’s No. 45 Jersey, with the words “Say Her Name” written on the back—a nod to the Breonna Taylor murder that remains unsolved. The performance is basketball-themed, an ode to Mitchell.
Echoing the Black Lives Matter sentiment were the Black Eyed Peas this year. After performing their newest song “Vida Loca” ft. Nicky Jam on a big screen, and Tyga, the BEPs surprised everyone by singing their 2009 hit, “I Gotta Feeling,” where Will.I.Am started off by saying that although times are hard, we must remain optimistic. While the song ignited feelings of nostalgia, and good vibes, Fergie’s incomparable vocals were missing. The band ended the song with an ode to recently deceased Chadwick Boseman, with Will.I.Am yelling the famous “Wakanda forever” line and reminding us all that Black Lives Matter.