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MTV VMAs 2014’s 20 Best and Worst Moments

Beyoncé’s stunning performance, Taylor Swift’s pop breakout and more highs and lows from MTV’s most outrageous night

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards

Getty Images

MTV's Video Music Awards thrive on big moments and big controversies — and last night's ceremony (the network's 31st) was light on both. Last year's show garnered massive ratings and massive amounts of chatter thanks to Miley's derriere, so this year was butt-tastic. But with no host, no Gaga, no Kanye, no Britney and no pythons, producers were left pushing two hours of brand-new artists they hope can become big stars… before the biggest star of them all arrived to make 'em all bow down. Here's how the night shook out, once the glitter settled.

Usher and Nicki Minaj at the 2014 MTV VMAs.

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Nicki Minaj and Usher perform onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage

BEST: Usher Heads in a New Direction

"The ladies in prison would love this next performer," said Laverne Cox, introducing Usher alongside two of her Orange Is the New Black castmates. Opening with a particularly hard rendition of his Mike Will-produced, Migos-influenced new "Believe Me," he immediately lived up to the hype, then segued into a particularly disco rendition of his Pharrell-produced, DJ Cassidy-influenced "She Came to Give It to You." Oh, and when Nicki Minaj appeared to rap her verse on the latter, he dropped to his knees and bounced his shoulder and head off her much discussed butt. This — and not the slick dance moves choreographed to a tasteful R&B jam — must have been what the singer was referring to when he (per a weekend MTV News headline) promised "something he's never done before at the VMAs."

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