In the end, Kanye West never showed up, Rihanna and Chris Brown didn’t perform together and Drake and Breezy didn’t bump into each other (as far as we know). But there were still plenty of storylines and water cooler moments to come out of the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards (like Lil Wayne skateboarding on stage, or Ke$ha sleep-talking through her presenter gig). Read on for our recap of the big wins, shocking upsets and any other notable nonsense to come out of this year’s VMAs. Then, be sure to check out our full lists of winners and performances. And you guys — we have to talk about Justin Bieber.
One Direction brought home three Moonmen, making them the night’s biggest winners. Each member of the Axis of Drama — Rihanna, Chris Brown and Drake — took home some hardware as well, for Video Of The Year, Best Male Video and Best Hip-Hop Video, respectively.
The award for the brand spankin’ new category Best EDM Video went to Calvin Harris (who was also the show’s house DJ. Hmm…), but the award was given before the show. So much for 2012 being the year of the bass drop.
The King Of Tweens has been dethroned! Justin Bieber was shut out last night, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he developed a much more mature sound this year. The Wanted, meanwhile, was swiftly brushed aside in the ruthless British rivalry with 1D. Youtube behemoths Carly Rae Jepsen, Gotye and fun. all came up empty-handed as well.
Rihanna opened the show with her crude “Cockiness (Love It)” and we loved it. She is simultaneously distant and engaging; nobody else can quite pull that off. Frank Ocean had nowhere to hide on the delicate “Thinkin Bout You” and his performance proved he’s got the smoothest falsetto in the game right now. We’re pretty sure this will end up being his first of many awards show performances.
As for Green Day, you’d never know that Billie Joe Armstrong was just a few days out from a stint in the hospital from a parasite. His band turned out a raucous performance of new song “Let Yourself Go.”
The strangest thing about this year’s VMAs was that the biggest headlines came from the red carpet before the show. Wiz Khalifa and fiancee Amber Rose announced that Amber is three months pregnant, and Ke$ha revealed her new single “Die Young” will drop later this month. Other than that, everything during the show went as planned. There were no moments that screamed “iconic!” and no off-script risks. That’s great news for the producers, but we viewers have come to expect more of a high-wire act.