The singer kicked off the awards show with an all-pink performance
The 2016 MTV VMAs awarded Rihanna with he Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award Sunday night and, in turn, she rewarded everyone with a career-spanning medley that throughout the evening included “Work,” “Only Girl in the World,” “Where Have You Been,” “Rude Boy,” and more.
She kicked off the entire awards show with a short performance, wearing all pink and surrounded by a slew of backup dancers, also in all pink. Following her opening number, which featured abridged versions of “Only Girl in the World,” “We Found Love,” and “Where Have You Been,” the VMAs revealed she would perform three more times during the broadcast.
An hour later, she returned to the stage after an introduction from Naomi Cambpell and ran through “Rude Boy” off Rated R, Drake collaborations “What’s My Name” (off Loud) and “Work” (off ANTI) with her stage and dancers styled in the fashion of her recent history-making single.
As the show entered its final stretch, Tracee Ellis Ross reintroduced Rihanna. She started with “Needed Me” — also off ANTI — and 2015 single “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Then, in the final moments of the broadcast, Mary J. Blige brought Rih back for one more medley. “Here is a girl from a little island,” she said.
In a trenchcoat gown, Rihanna ended the ceremony with her best vocal performance of the evening, singing “Stay” and “Diamonds,” both off Unapologetic, before heading into ANTI highlight “Love on The Brain.”
After, a tuxedo-clad Drake arrived to present Rihanna with the Video Vanguard Award. “The first time I met Robyn Fenty was 2005,” he said, reminiscing about meeting Rihanna in 2005 at a restaurant in Toronto while the Barbadian star was shooting a video for “Pon De Replay.” “I was introduced as the guy who plays background music while people eat their food.” He ended, “We love the woman who hasn’t changed since day one. I’ve loved her since I was 22 years old. She’s someone I’ve looked up to my entire adult life, even though she’s younger than me.”
The singer entered the broadcast nominated for multiple awards, including Best Female Video (for “Work”) and Best Male Video (for her appearance in Calvin Harris’ “This Is What You Came For”).
The 28-year-old just wrapped the European leg of her world tour in support of her excellent eighth studio album, ANTI, so her routine was more than warm when she kicked off her performance. She can next be found at Made In America festival in Philadelphia over Labor Day Weekend.
Check out the full performance below.