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MTV VMAs 2016: 20 Best and Worst Moments

Beyonce’s stunning ‘Lemonade’ spectacle, Kanye’s rambling speech, all four of Rihanna’s medleys and more highs and lows from MTV’s Video Music Awards

MTV's 33rd annual Video Music Awards was intended to be the Rihanna show – since the 28-year-old entertainer was receiving the Video Vanguard Award and was programmed to perform four career-spanning medleys throughout the evening. But it turned into a Beyoncé mini-concert when she and her crew performed an epic medley of songs from Lemonade that left everyone with dropped jaws. Here's the highs and lows from a night of no-show celebs, anticlimactic reinventions and divas in the spotlight.

Best Worst VMA Awards 2016

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Best: Future Gets Live

For his first VMA appearance, the Atlanta MC didn't hide behind high-concept production number glitz. He just put on a hot rap show, blazing through his 2015 hit "Fuck Up Some Commas" with a fire and poise that made the stage his own, and looking good as always in a layered outfit of just about every shade of red imaginable. And if Future's smooth onstage moves weren't riveting enough, we also got to see Chance the Rapper, dressed in Super Mario hat and overalls, dancing enthusiastically in the crowd. Backed by four dancers and a live band, including a guitarist who exploded into a wicked climax for the outro, Future made it clear that he don't give no fucks – well, they were "f**ks" for TV. 

Best Worst VMA Awards 2016

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Worst: The Directionless Direction

The strangely intimate close-ups of Diddy at the start of the show indicated a bad production choice that would recur throughout the evening. Maybe the idea was to fill the phone, tablet and computer screens that many viewers were using to stream the telecast? The cameras would then swoop out from a distance, possibly to emphasize the size of the event but having the effect of showing you the view from an especially lousy seat at Madison Square Garden. 

Best Worst VMA Awards 2016

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Worst: Nick Jonas Orders “Bacon”

Sometimes there's just way too much going on and yet way too little happening. For this elaborate staging on Jonas's "Bacon," Nick is cast as a waiter at the Tick Tock Diner, a mediocre but conveniently located restaurant near Madison Square Garden, that was populated for the occasion with cameos from many demi-celebs nobody could have been too excited to see, like his brother's band DNCE, internet aggregator the Fat Jew, model Ashley Graham and social media notable Joanne the Scammer. Matters hardly improved when Jonas took to the street outside to find Ty Dolla $ign flanked by two bouncing lowriders in front of a Duane Reade. 

Best Worst VMA Awards 2016

Larry Busacca/MTV1617/Getty

Worst: The Chainsmokers and Halsey Get “Closer”

Along with gritty pop rebel Halsey, New York City DJ duo the Chainsmokers currently have the Number One single on the Billboard Hot 100 with their carefree summer jam, "Closer." But for a crew of hitmakers, they put on one sleeper of a performance. Comprised of a mountain for a backdrop and some light fog, the sparse visuals hardly warranted broadcast – much less the lackluster, albeit cuddly vocal performance between Halsey and the Chainsmokers' Drew Taggart. Producer Alex Pall looked lonely behind his drum machine while it all went down, ensconced by white mist.

Best Worst VMA Awards 2016

Larry Busacca/MTV1617/Getty

Best: Drake Toasts to Rihanna

The most dominant pop star of 2016 did his best "I'm not worthy" while presenting his old pal Rihanna with her Video Vanguard award, and restored some dignity to the Barbadian singer after Beyoncé had all but stolen the show out from under her. He strolled up in a tux and described his first encounter with "someone I've been in love with since I was 22 years old," whom he met while he was a lowly restaurant singer. He cracked a couple corny jokes – showing a photo of himself with a Rihanna-esque do – and through his humility seemed to re-convince the audience that they were looking at a fellow megastar.

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