Eminem and Rihanna performed their hit “The Monster” for the first time on television at Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards, headlining the two-hour show that also included performances by Twenty One Pilots, host Conan O’Brien and Ellie Goulding with Zedd, Miriam Bryant and Matthew Zoma.
Backed by a live band, Rihanna opened up the performance wearing a “FEAR” headband with matching necklace and jacket. Eminem entered soon after, overcoming slight technical difficulties to perform a guttural, raucous version of the song, rhyming among fans before taking a spot next to Rihanna in a preview of the duo’s upcoming mini-tour set to hit Los Angeles, New Jersey and Detroit this August.
Goulding and Zedd helped drum up interest for the recently released sci-fi/action film Divergent. With the electronic DJ/producer backing up the UK pop singer on piano, Goulding performed the heartfelt ballad “Beating Heart” before ceding the stage to singers Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant for the EDM track “Find You.”
After being introduced by Fault of Our Stars‘ Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley, Columbus, Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots performed their hip-hop-inflected synthpop hit “Car Radio,” the third single from their third album Vessel. Frontman Tyler Joseph brought back the white ski mask he donned in the group’s video, but enlisted a few hundred fans to wear identical masks and jump around with the energetic singer. (On Friday, the group posted a brief video on their Instagram page asking home viewers to watch their performance wearing ski masks.)
O’Brien even got in on the musical end of the night, excoriating award shows’ penchant for “lengthy musical numbers” before strapping on a guitar and recruiting actor/comedian Adam DeVine and a gospel choir to perform just that.
Eminem and Rihanna first teamed up on the 2010 song “Love the Way You Lie” before reuniting for “The Monster,” which the rapper released at the end of October as the fourth single from The Marshall Mathers LP 2. In a Rolling Stone cover story this past fall, Eminem said that the new collaboration with Rihanna was “not necessarily a sequel, as much as it is a revisitation” to his past. “To me, it’s more about the vice, and it’s more about the nostalgia,” he said.