Written by on September 15, 2021

MTV rolled out a long list of superstars on September 12, 2021, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City.  This marked the first time since the 2013 ceremony that the venue is hosting the show. The show was hosted by American rapper and singer Doja Cat. 

It was Doja Cat’s first time hosting any awards ceremony, but she’s no stranger to the VMAs: In 2020, she won the night’s Best New Artist award while also delivering a scorching performance of her hits “Like That” and “Say So.”

With the stage set with adherence to covid19 restrictions, it was a night to remember with the blow-you-away live musical performance.  This year’s VMAs continued that tradition with a stellar array of killer sets from scores of today’s hottest, chart-topping stars.

Who performed at the 2021 MTV VMAs?

Doja Cat- For starters, Doja Cat didn’t just host; she also performed!

Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI- The show opened with a surprise appearance by none other than pop icon Madonna, who congratulated MTV on its 40th birthday (and showed off some, um, sweet cheeks in a butt-baring get-up) before Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI delivered a joint performance of “Stay” and “Ghost.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Hailey Bieber and Justin Bieber attend the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS)

Olivia Rodrigo- VMAs first-timer Olivia Rodrigo then sang her head-banging single “good 4 u”—and speaking of banging things up, she ended her performance by smashing the camera lens!

Twenty One Pilots– delivered an electric performance of “Saturday” off their May 2021 LP, Scaled and Icy—during which, frontman Tyler Joseph revealed that he and his wife are expecting their second child!

Kacey Musgraves– changed up the tempo when she sang her heart-wrenching breakup ballad, “star-crossed.”
Shawn Mendes and Tainy- delivered his latest single “Summer of Love” alongside Tainy.
Chlöe (of Chloe x Halle)- clocked her first-ever live televised performance of debut solo single “Have Mercy.”
Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow- And Lil Nas X continued his streak of mind-blowing awards-show sets by performing “Industry Baby” with collaborator Jack Harlow.
Camila Cabello- Mendes’ longtime love, Camila Cabello, sang her new track “Don’t Go Yet” from her forthcoming album, Familia.
Normani and Teyana Taylor- Normani brought down the house when she performed “Wild Side”—and brought out surprise guest Teyana Taylor!
Ozuna- also rocked the stage with his performance of “La Funka.”
Foo Fighters- Dave Grohl’s epic rock band Foo Fighters performed and received the VMAs’ first-ever Global Icon Award.
Busta Rhymes- And to top it all off, the night ended with another surprise guest—Busta Rhymes, whose electrifying performance showed he’s definitely still got it!
The MTV VMAs 2021 nominees and winners?

Justin Bieber led with seven nominations and Megan Thee Stallion with six. (On the frontrunner ballot, she had more entries for song and video than any other artist.) They were followed by several five-times-nominated artists, including Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Drake, Giveon and BTS. By the end of the night, Lil Nas and Rodrigo were the big winners, bringing home three Moon Men apiece.

Video of the Year

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”

DJ Khaled ft. Drake – “POPSTAR” (Starring Justin Bieber)

Doja Cat ft. SZA – “Kiss Me More”

Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”

WINNER Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”

Song of the Year

24kGoldn ft. iann dior – “Mood”

Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open”

BTS – “Dynamite”

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”

Dua Lipa – “Levitating”

WINNER Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license”

Artist of the Year

Ariana Grande

Doja Cat

WINNER Justin Bieber

Megan Thee Stallion

Olivia Rodrigo

Taylor Swift

Best New Artist




WINNER Olivia Rodrigo

Polo G


Best Collaboration

24kGoldn ft. iann dior – “Mood”

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”

WINNER Doja Cat ft. SZA – “Kiss Me More”

Drake ft. Lil Durk – “Laugh Now Cry Later”

Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon – “Peaches”

Miley Cyrus ft. Dua Lipa – “Prisoner”

Best Pop

Ariana Grande – “positions”

Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am”

BTS – “Butter”

Harry Styles – “Treat People With Kindness”

WINNER Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon – “Peaches”

Olivia Rodrigo – “good 4 u”

Shawn Mendes – “Wonder”

Taylor Swift – “willow”

Best Hip-Hop

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “WAP”

Drake ft. Lil Durk – “Laugh Now Cry Later”

Lil Baby ft. Megan Thee Stallion – “On Me (remix)”

Moneybagg Yo – “Said Sum”

Polo G – “RAPSTAR”

WINNER Travis Scott ft. Young Thug & M.I.A. – “FRANCHISE”

Push Performance of the Year

September 2020: Wallows – “Are You Bored Yet?”

October 2020: Ashnikko – “Daisy”

November 2020: SAINt JHN – “Gorgeous”

December 2020: 24kGoldn – “Coco”

January 2021: JC Stewart – “Break My Heart”

February 2021: Latto – “Sex Lies”

March 2021: Madison Beer – “Selfish”

April 2021: The Kid LAROI – “WITHOUT YOU”

WINNER May 2021: Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license”

June 2021: girl in red “Serotonin”

July 2021: Fousheé – “my slime”

August 2021: jxdn – “Think About Me”

Best Rock

Evanescence – “Use My Voice”

Foo Fighters – “Shame Shame”

WINNER John Mayer – “Last Train Home”

The Killers – “My Own Soul’s Warning”

Kings Of Leon – “The Bandit”

Lenny Kravitz – “Raise Vibration”

Group of the Year




Foo Fighters

Maroon 5

Jonas Brothers

Silk Sonic

twenty one pilots

Best Alternative

Bleachers – “Stop Making This Hurt”

Glass Animals – “Heat Waves”

Imagine Dragons – “Follow You”

WINNER Machine Gun Kelly ft. blackbear – “my ex’s best friend

twenty one pilots – “Shy Away”

WILLOW ft. Travis Barker – “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l”

Best Latin

Bad Bunny x Jhay Cortez – “Dákiti”

WINNER Billie Eilish & ROSALÍA – “Lo Vas A Olvidar”

Black Eyed Peas and Shakira – “GIRL LIKE ME”

J. Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, Tainy – “UN DIA (ONE DAY)”

Karol G – “Bichota”

Maluma – “Hawái”

Best R&B

Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid – “BROWN SKIN GIRL”

WINNER Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open”

Chris Brown and Young Thug – “Go Crazy”


H.E.R. ft. Chris Brown – “Come Through”

SZA – “Good Days”

Best K-Pop


BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez – “Ice Cream”

WINNER BTS – “Butter”

SEVENTEEN – “Ready to love”

TWICE – “Alcohol-Free”

Best Breakthrough Song

Masked Wolf – “Astronaut in the Ocean”

WINNER Claire Rosinkranz – “Backyard Boy”

Bella Poarch – “Build A B*tch”

Yung Baby Tate ft. Flo Milli – “I Am”

Bia – “Whole Lotta Money”

Video for Good

WINNER Billie Eilish – “Your Power”

Demi Lovato – “Dancing With The Devil”

H.E.R. – “Fight For You”

Kane Brown – “Worldwide Beautiful”

Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”

Pharrell Williams ft. JAY-Z – “Entrepreneur”

Best Direction

Billie Eilish – “Your Power” – Directed by: Billie Eilish

DJ Khaled ft. Drake – “POPSTAR (Starring Justin Bieber)” – Directed by: Julien Christian Lutz aka Director X

WINNER Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Directed by: Lil Nas X and Tanu Muino

Taylor Swift – “willow” – Directed by: Taylor Swift

Travis Scott ft. Young Thug & M.I.A – “Franchise” – Directed by: Travis Scott

Tyler, The Creator – “LUMBERJACK” – Directed by: Wolf Haley

Best Cinematography

WINNER Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid – “BROWN SKIN GIRL” – Cinematography by: Benoit Soler, Malik H. Sayeed, MOHAMMAED ATTA AHMED, Santiago Gonzalez, Ryan Helfant

Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am” – Cinematography by: Rob Witt

Foo Fighters – “Shame Shame” – Cinematography by: Santiago Gonzalez

Justin Bieber ft. Chance The Rapper – “Holy” – Cinematography by: Elias Talbot

Lady Gaga – “911” – Cinematography by: Jeff Cronenweth

Lorde – “Solar Power” – Cinematography by: Andrew Stroud

Best Art Direction

Beyoncé, Shatta Wale, Major Lazer – “ALREADY” – Art Direction by: Susan Linns, Gerard Santos

Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits” – Art Direction by: Alison Dominitz

Lady Gaga – “911” – Art Direction by: Tom Foden, Peter Andrus

Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Art Direction by: John Richoux

WINNER Saweetie ft. Doja Cat – “Best Friend” – Art Direction by: Art Haynes

Taylor Swift – “willow” – Art Direction by: Ethan Tobman, Regina Fernandez

Best Visual Effects

Bella Poarch – “Build A Bitch” – Visual Effects by: Andrew Donoho, Denhov Visuals, Denis Strahhov, Rein Jakobson, Vahur Kuusk, Tatjana Pavlik, Yekaterina Vetrova

Coldplay – “Higher Power” – Visual Effects by: Mathematic

Doja Cat & The Weeknd – “You Right” – Visual Effects by: La Pac, Anthony Lestremau, Julien Missaire, Petr Shkolniy, Alexi Bailla, Micha Sher, Antoine Hache, Mikros MPC, Nicolas Huget, Guillaume Ho Tsong Fang, Benjamin Lenfant, Stephane Pivron, MPC Bangalore, Chanakya Chander, Raju Ganesh, David Rouxel

Glass Animals – “Tangerine” – Visual Effects by: Ronan Fourreau

WINNER Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Visual Effects by: Mathematic

P!NK – “All I Know So Far” – Visual Effects by: Dave Meyers, Freenjoy Inc

Best Choreography

Ariana Grande – “34+35” – Choreography by: Brian Nicholson & Scott Nicholson


Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits” – Choreography by: Natricia Bernard

Foo Fighters – “Shame Shame” – Choreography by: Nina McNeely

WINNER Harry Styles – “Treat People With Kindness” – Choreography by: Paul Roberts

Marshmello & Halsey – “Be Kind” – Choreography by: Dani Vitale

Best Editing

WINNER Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open” – Editing by: Troy Charbonnet

BTS – “Butter” – Editing by: Yong Seok Choi from Lumpens

Drake – “What’s Next” – Editing by: Noah Kendal

Harry Styles – “Treat People With Kindness” – Editing by: Claudia Wass

Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon – “Peaches” – Editing by: Mark Mayr, Vinnie Hobbs

Miley Cyrus ft. Dua Lipa – “Prisoner” – Editing by: William Town

The highlight of the night for me was Lil Nas’ killer performance! It gave me chills and left me in awe. It was also exciting to see that Justin Beiber led the nominees for MTV Video music awards since 2015! I’ve always loved his music.

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