Beyoncé was an obvious choice to receive this year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards: In addition to classic clips ranging from the Destiny’s Child-era to “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies,” the singer is almost singlehandedly keeping the art of the music video alive, going as far as releasing her latest album Beyoncé with music videos for every track. With the VMAs under her spell for 15 minutes, Beyoncé did her best to stuff that entire DVD into a quarter-hour. “MTV, welcome to my world,” she warned.
Unlike Video Vanguard winners of years past, Beyoncé chose not to use her extended performance to cycle through her iconic tracks and music videos (that’s what her Super Bowl halftime show was for). Instead of dwelling on the past, she busted out a rapid-fire medley of every track on Beyoncé, from “Mine” to “XO” with a dozen more tracks squeezed in between.
The performance was flawless, seamlessly segueing between the slow ballads and upbeat tracks as each song was accompanied by perfectly executed choreography. This was Beyoncé at her best. There were no costume changes — she wore the same mosaic leotard the whole time — but the entire essence of her On the Run performances, right down to the backdrop videos, was brilliantly translated onto the VMA stage.
“This one is for my incredible fans. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be on this stage,” Mrs. Carter told the audience before closing out with “XO.” Beyoncé led the way this year with eight Video Music Award nominations, including a nod in the Video of the Year category for Beyoncé‘s “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay Z. Three different Beyoncé songs were up for Moonmen: “Drunk in Love” was also up for Best Collaboration, “Partition” was nominated for Best Female Video (an award Rolling Stone predicted she’d win) and Best Choreography, and “Pretty Hurts” grabbed nods in the Best Editing, Best Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Video With a Social Message category.
Returning to the same award show where she famously revealed her pregnancy, Beyoncé didn’t make another big personal life revelation live on MTV, despite rumors about her marriage. Instead, Knowles did her best to quash all the tabloid headlines. Jay Z and Blue Ivy joined her onstage immediately following the performance, with Jay Z himself giving Beyoncé, “the greatest living entertainer,” the Video Vanguard Award. The two kissed as Blue Ivy declared, “Good job Mommy!”
“My beloved: I love you. My fans: I love you. MTV: I love you. Good night,” Beyoncé said in her short acceptance speech. It had the resonance of a mic drop; she’d just killed the VMAs. Literally. The ceremony ended 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.