UPDATE: Katy Perry closed out the VMAs with a performance of her summer hit “Swish Swish” alongside collaborator Nicki Minaj in a basketball-themed production, complete with a basketball-print corset for her and a black-and-white striped referee outfit for Minaj.
— MTV (@MTV) August 28, 2017
The song, identified by fans as a supposed diss track against musical nemesis Taylor Swift, didn’t quite spark the retaliatory tone that viewers may have expected following Swift’s debut of her “Look What You Made Me Do” music video earlier in the night. It did, however, feature Perry flying high over the audience (a la Vanguard Award winner, Pink), an auditorium-full of bouncing basketball balloons and a literal slam dunk finish.
“You guys look so great because actually, before I left, I took a little break – and when I left it seemed like things were kinda screwed up,” she said in her monologue kickoff, hinting at her music hiatus prior to the recent release of her album Witness. “But you all look so happy and helpful and peaceful. And it feels like since I’ve been gone you’ve figured out all the problems in the world right now and the world is doing so well, right?”
Not so much, it turns out. During the course of her monologue, Perry poked fun at the current socio-political climate (pulling out a faux newspaper with the headline “The world is on fire!”) and pulling a Handsmaid’s Tale-esque costume off a rack when deciding what to wear.
“Very retro pilgrim,” she nodded in approval. Despite the dismal state of the world she’s just “returned” to, however, Perry expressed a tiny sliver of hope: “Even in the apocalypse, we deserve a good soundtrack.”
Perry’s videos are nominated for five awards at the event: Best Pop (“Chained to the Rhythm” featuring Skip Marley), Best Collaboration (Calvin Harris collaboration “Feels,” also featuring Pharrell Williams and Big Sean), Best Direction (for “Chained to the Rhythm” director Mathew Cullen), Best Art Direction (“Bon Appétit” art director Natalie Groce) and Best Visual Effects (“Chained to the Rhythm” visual effects team MIRADA).
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Kendrick Lamar leads the VMAs with eight total nominations, with Perry and the Weekend behind at five each.