The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards may have promised that “everything might happen” but in the end nothing too wild really did.
It was a sparkly night, nonetheless — seriously, it was like the dress code specifically stated that all pop stars must show up in glittery gowns. Jennifer Lopez more than stole the show with her medley of hits, while Madonna made it awkward showing barely any R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to Aretha Franklin during a tribute that was more about her own struggles than anything to do with the late Queen of Soul. No, Monday night’s ceremony was far from 2009 awards where Kanye brought some much needed scandal, (mostly this year people just brought their moms and kids), but luckily, EW got to go along in person to bring you some tidbits that didn’t make it to the televised broadcast.
1. The VMAs don’t know how to do stand-up comedy.
Before the show started, the eager audience was treated to some truly awful, borderline misogynistic and frankly vile stand-up from a comedian whose attempts at jokes ranged from pointing out attractive people in the crowd (“Hello, sir. You look great. If I was gay, I’d be all over you.”), to just asking vague biological questions like, “Anybody have pubic hair?” Do better, MTV.
2. Camila Cabello was VERY excited to be there.
Guess the former Fifth Harmony-er isn’t jaded by the awards show circuit yet, because, despite not being there to perform, the singer never stopped moving. Before the show started she hugged Jennifer Lopez at least three times and had someone snap a pic of them together. She stood and sang all through Shawn Mendes’ opening performance and was quick to cuddle him later too when he descended into the designated celebrity zone. She even sang her way through the lesser-known performer’s songs, never once sitting down when Maluma took to the stage and forcing her poor mother to dance along with her too.
3. Kylie Jenner was far less excited to be there.
Dressed in a stiff white suit-jacket dress, Jenner sat next to boyfriend Travis Scott in the front row for most of the evening and, honestly, what a waste of an up-close seat. She remained seated during practically the entire show, leaning in to speak to whomever was next to her (sometimes Scott, sometimes not). Indeed, I only spotted her getting up three times: Once to take a pic, once to leave (which she did promptly after Scott’s performance), and once when her boyfriend took the stage to perform. We’ll give her that much, she did stan through it all, recording on her phone and trying very hard not to move her hips. The lesson learned: Kylie Jenner does not dance. Must be a family thing.
4. The bad word Nicki Minaj said during her acceptance speech was…
“Tune in to Queen Radio just so you know who the C–ks-cker of the Day award is going to. Love you,” said Minaj at the end of her acceptance speech for Best Hip-Hop Video and MTV promptly bleeped it out. Or at least, I hope they did…?
5. Pete Davidson remained standing through all of his fiancée’s performance.
I mean, if your future in-laws were about to be on stage, you’d probably get up and show some respect too, right? The SNL comedian seemed to be enjoying Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” performance, including the moment when she brought out her mother and grandmother at the end. It’ll be a fun Thanksgiving this year.
6. Marshmello can text through that headpiece.
Maybe not that surprising since he can, you know, walk and perform and whatnot while resembling a huge, demented yet happy marshmallow, but it’s reassuring to know he can also see small print through it too. The DJ enjoyed a little texting sesh during the commercial breaks and didn’t seem to have any vision issues.
7. The Backstreet Boys are sweet middle-aged men
I kind of didn’t even care that MTV poked fun at the Boys’ seniority when they got on stage to announce the nominees for Song of the Year by having them point out their kids were fans of certain songs. Hey, this is by all means a show for teenagers after all, and the guys showed that class and gratitude come with age when they turned round to greet as many fans as possible as a video of the nominated acts played to the TV audience.
8. Madonna’s Aretha Franklin tribute fell just as flat IRL.
When Madonna walked onto the stage (looking like a lampshade you hang all your necklaces on so they won’t tangle) and proceeded to pay homage to herself while a huge photo of the recently deceased Franklin loomed behind her (even it didn’t remind her why she was really there!), at least three girls in the crowd near me squinted and asked, “Who is that?” Well, it didn’t take them long to realize since she literally didn’t stop talking about herself for seven full minutes — even tacking on an extra unnecessary anecdote just when we were hoping it was all over. Someone near me groaned, someone else couldn’t stop laughing hysterically, but mostly everyone just sat there in subdued silence wishing Kanye would appear and, well, Kanye her off the stage: “Imma let you finish, but Aretha had one of the best careers of all time!”
9. Steven Tyler couldn’t get off the stage fast enough after Aerosmith’s performance.
You couldn’t be blamed for thinking the show might end on a big moment — some guys even came out and mopped down the stage before the final performance — but in the end Aerosmith’s performance was show-ending but not show-stopping. Plus, it was all over very quickly. The vintage rockers took to the stage alongside Post Malone with naked flames dancing behind them (which looked more dangerous than impressive in a hall packed to capacity) and ran through “Rockstar”, “Dream On,” and “Toys in the Attic.” As soon as it was done, Tyler was helped down from the stage by a couple of bodyguards and got the heck out of there. So abrupt was the ending that many people in the crowd hung around an extra beat to see if there was going to be some sort of encore. There was not.