Once a year, the MTV Video Music Awards remind us what MTV actually stands for. Sunday night’s 2021 awards, staged at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, also doubled as the network’s 40th anniversary celebration, with a surprise Madonna appearance, host Doja Cat and a bevy of pop-star performances filling out the evening.
Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo were among the night’s biggest winners—the former took home three awards, including Video of the Year, for his controversial, eye-poppingly popular (with a whopping 347 million views to date) “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” video, while the latter won Song of the Year and Push Performance of the Year for “drivers license,” as well as Best New Artist.
Justin Bieber (somewhat inexplicably) received the Artist of Year award, winning out over an all-women slate of nominees that included Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Rodrigo and Taylor Swift. And other beloved acts, including Billie Eilish, BTS, and Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s Silk Sonic, took home multiple Moon People, including a big BTS win for Group of the Year.
Take a look at the complete winners list below, plus the acceptance speeches and Video of the Year, and stay tuned for a Paste roundup of the evening’s best performances.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Columbia Records
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Justin Bieber – Def Jam
SONG OF THE YEAR: Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license” – Geffen Records
BEST NEW ARTIST, Presented by Facebook: Olivia Rodrigo – Geffen Records
PUSH PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: May 2021: Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license” – Geffen Records
BEST COLLABORATION: Doja Cat ft. SZA – “Kiss Me More” – Kemosabe Records / RCA Records
BEST POP: Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon – “Peaches” – Def Jam
BEST HIP-HOP: Travis Scott ft. Young Thug & M.I.A. – “FRANCHISE” – Cactus Jack / Epic Records
BEST ROCK: John Mayer – “Last Train Home” – Columbia Records
BEST ALTERNATIVE: Machine Gun Kelly ft. blackbear – “my ex’s best friend” – Bad Boy / Interscope Records
BEST LATIN: Billie Eilish & ROSALÍA – “Lo Vas A Olvidar” – Darkroom / Interscope Records
BEST R&B: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open” – Aftermath Entertainment / Atlantic Records
BEST K-POP: BTS – “Butter” – BIGHIT MUSIC Monsta X – “Gambler” – Starship Entertainment
VIDEO FOR GOOD: Billie Eilish – “Your Power” – Darkroom / Interscope Records
BEST DIRECTION: Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Columbia Records – Directed by: Lil Nas X and Tanu Muino
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid – “BROWN SKIN GIRL” – Parkwood Entertainment / Columbia Records – Cinematography by: Benoit Soler, Malik H. Sayeed, MOHAMMAED ATTA AHMED, Santiago Gonzalez, Ryan Helfant
BEST ART DIRECTION: Saweetie ft. Doja Cat – “Best Friend” – Warner Records – Art Direction by: Alec Contestabile
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Columbia Records – Visual Effects by: Mathematic
BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Harry Styles – “Treat People With Kindness” – Columbia Records – Choreography by: Paul Roberts
BEST EDITING: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave The Door Open” – Aftermath Entertainment/Atlantic Records – Editing by: Troy Charbonnet
GROUP OF THE YEAR: BTS
SONG OF THE SUMMER: BTS – “Butter” – BIGHIT MUSIC