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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.


Taylor Swift performs on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA), August 24, 2014 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

WORST: Technical Snafus

Although the VMAs weren't entirely riddled with technical errors, there were enough to warrant a few double-takes. Before the show even began, a camera showed a long interior shot of the arena during interviews on the red carpet. During Snoop and Gwen Stefani's presentation of Best Female Video, a voice strangely called over the audio, "Taylor One, Taylor One, Taylor One, Taylor One, —lor One," presumably camera directions (but we can't rule out alien transmissions). Finally, when Lorde accepted the trophy for Best Rock Video, she had no idea what camera was on her. "Is there some place I should be looking?" she asked before turning to her left. "Oh, hi."


INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Singer Ariana Grande performs onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Mark Davis/Getty Images)

WORST: Unnecessary Nominee Supermixes

It’s no secret that the VMAs are no longer about the videos, ignoring the directors and focusing on the performances, but this year, even the music got shafted. When the nominees were announced, the videos weren’t just truncated into a few distorted, fake fish-eye frames, the actual songs were combined into a single, stuttering trap megamix. A commentary on the interchangeability  of this year's nominated songs? A hip effort to appeal to young fans? No, just an annoying way to listen to the music that this show is supposed to be celebrating.

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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