The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards were supposed to be Rihanna’s night—and it was (sort of). The 28-year-old singer performed four times throughout the three-hour awards show and received the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, which she claimed, in part, “for black women.” Drake, taking the stage to present her award, admitting that he’s been in love with her since she was 22 and that super awkward kinda-kiss they shared were hard to compete with.
First there was Teyana Taylor in all her post-baby, snapback body glory, oiled up and channeling West Africa, “Pleasure Principle,” Flashdance, and Rosie Perez in “Do The Right Thing” while she danced her ass off, made out with her fiancée’ Cleveland Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert, and then hung out with some silent lambs in Kanye West’s latest video “Fade.”
And then? Well then, there was all things Beyoncé. From the red carpet to her epic 16-minute performance of songs from Lemonade, to breaking an MTV record, King Bey showed up and showed out at the MTV Awards as only she can.
Here are eight ways ‘Yonce gave us life:
She Broke Madonna’s VMA Record
It’s official! Beyoncé, who was nominated for 11 Video Music Awards this year, is now MTV’s most decorated artist. Mrs. Carter won six awards at Sunday evening’s show, bringing her Moon Man total to 21, one more than Madonna, the previous record holder. Beyoncé’s wins included best pop video, breakthrough long-form video for Lemonade, choreography, direction, cinematography and editing, and the video of the year award for “Formation,” which she dedicated to “the people of New Orleans.”
She Stole the Show
Mrs. Carter embarked on a surprise 15-minute set featuring five songs from Lemonade, bringing her visual album to the live stage. And backed by “a whole lotta dancers,” she served every millisecond; from her opening performance of “Pray You Catch Me,” which included a nod to police shootings and the memory of Trayvon Martin, to twerking in her thong leotard and using her best friend – Hot Sauce – to break an MTV camera during “Hold Up,” to stalking the stage in her over-the- knee Louboutins for “Sorry,” throwing on an oversized fur for “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” whipping her hair back and forth, walking it out, dipping it low, going awf, getting her life and giving viewers theirs up and through “Formation.”
Whooo, Chile! BEY. DID. THAT!!! She put everybody else, especially poor former-MTV darling Britney Spears (who followed Bey’s performance) to shame.
She Actually Sang
It was a night filled with great performances that also included some pretty bad lip-synching. Look. I’ll be the first to admit that singing and dancing at the same damn time might be a challenge (I’ve never tried it, other than for karaoke). But where her counterparts choose to focus on their moves and leave a track to handle the vocals, Beyoncé did both…for 16 continuous minutes.
She Left Her Husband at Home
The state of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage was the subject of much speculation during and after the debut of Yonce’s visual album, Lemonade. Were her angry lyrics and tales of infidelity drawn from personal experience or crafted with artistic license? We’ll never know (and we shouldn’t). But Jay Z was blamed as the source of Lemonade’s inspiration and was dragged on social media, which took a few fresh jabs at Hov last night. Can you imagine how bad the memes would have been today with shots of MTV cameras cutting to Jay Z’s reactions as his wife sang, “give my fat ass a big kiss boy?”
The Carters made the right call.
She Slayed the Red Carpet
Bey started out the night—even before the festivities began—by showing up early to MTV’s white carpet and slaying in a sparkling (and sheer!) couture gown by Italian designer Francesco Scognamiglio. He also created a Swarovski-embellished bomber jacket and pants costume for the diva’s “Formation” world tour.
She accessorized her head-turning look with jewelry that would make Liz Taylor envious. ‘Yonce rocked more than $2.5 million worth of jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz, including emerald earrings that cost $1.8 million, a 12-carat pink diamond valued at $9 million and a 20-carat diamond ring that costs around $1.5 million.
She Had an Awesome Date
In 2011, Beyoncé announced she was pregnant with her daughter on the MTV stage, revealing her “bump” at the end of one of her many epic performances. Five years later, she arrived on the red carpet with her daughter, Blue Ivy, now four, as her date for the evening. Little Miss Carter was adorable in a rose gold tulle dress fit for a princess. Her look was topped with a sparkly tiara, also designed by Lorraine Schwartz, and pink high top sneakers by Giuseppe Zanetti.
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.She Had an All-Star Squad
In addition to her perfect “date,” Beyoncé arrived at the VMAs with notable members of her Lemonade squad, including model Winnie Harlow, actress Quvenzhané Wallis, and her musical protégés Chloe and Halle. Also in her squad were the Mothers of the Movement, including Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Lezley McSpadden-Head, mother of Michael “Mike” Brown, Jr.
All four mothers appeared in Lemonade, which won Breakthrough Long Form Video at last night’s show.
She’s A Marketing Genius
MTV went to commercial after Beyoncé’s spectacular performance, allowing viewers to catch their breath, get their life, and frantically plaster lemon emoji’s all over social media (or, um, was that just me?). In case the flawless, 16-minute performance of Lemonade wasn’t enough of a reminder that “yes, you should buy tickets to Beyoncé’s in-progress tour,” a commercial for the tour aired while viewers were in full Beyoncé hysteria and before the show returned from the break.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at demetrialucasdoyley.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.