Custom masks, coronavirus and Black lives dominate VMA show

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    By Jill Serjeant

    Lady Gaga dominated the MTV Video Music Awards show on Sunday, with a series of visually arresting outfits, masked performances and three early wins, including artist of the year.

    Gaga, who went into the show sharing a leading nine nominations with Ariana Grande, stormed the ceremony with multiple costume changes ranging from an exotic bird to a bright green ball gown – all accompanied by exaggerated custom-made face masks and muzzles.

    “I was wearing face shields before it was a thing,” Gaga said on Twitter during the show.

    The VMAs marked the first major US awards show to take place during the coronavirus pandemic. It was filmed without a live audience and with most of the performances recorded in advance because of health guidelines.

    Host Keke Palmer opened the televised ceremony by dedicating it to “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday at the age of 43.

    Gaga was also given a new lifetime achievement trophy, called the Tricon Award.

    “This has not been an easy year for a lot of people,” she said. “Stay safe, speak your minds, and I might sound like a broken record but wear a mask.”

    In the fan-voted show, Gaga and Grande took home VMAs for song of the year and best collaboration for “Rain On Me.”

    The show also recognized essential workers at the frontlines of the outbreak, and handed out trophies to Grande and Justin Bieber for the best performances recorded during the pandemic that has shut down live music shows since mid-March.

    America’s national reckoning over systemic racism was also on the minds of performers and presenters after months of street protests over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.

    “It’s our time to be the change we want to see,” said Palmer. “We need to come together, and music has that power.”

    The Weeknd, accepting the trophy for best R&B song for “Blinding Lights”, said he was not in the mood for partying.

    “It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment, so I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” he said, referring to the recent

    police shootings of Blake and Taylor.
    K-Pop sensation BTS made their debut performance at the VMAs, singing their new single “Dynamite,” and the seven-member boy band won two early awards for best pop group and best K-pop artist.