Jennifer Lopez, MTV’s 2018 Video Vanguard …& Many Other Awesome MTV Women

Women DOMINATED the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. And tonight the MTV Video Vanguard Award went to a personal hero, Jennifer Lopez. Let’s have a watch party together, talk about Ms. Lopez and the other incredible women honored tonight, plus watch their outstanding performances and a couple of the standout male performances as well. #DiscoverRediscover

Tiffany Haddish + Kevin Hart - 2018 MTV Video Music Awards (video still)
Tiffany Haddish + Kevin Hart presenting at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall (video still)

There are probably several hours of video included here, so draw up your favorite cock– or –mocktail, set your device to play to your sweet sweet bluetooth stereo speakers, and “roll tape”…

2018 MTV VMAs |
The Female Award Winners

Of the eighteen awards, exactly half were won by women — unless you also count the Best Choreography award, which went to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, choreographed by Sherrie Silver — and also the Best Dance Video award, which went to the late Avicii for “Lonely Together”, a song and video featuring vocals by Rita Ora — and also the Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography awards, which went to The Carters, for “Apes**t”, a video and song dominated by Beyoncé, where the art direction and cinematography was likely also dominated (read: advised) by Mrs. Carter.

All the Stars - SZA + Kendrick Lamar
All the Stars – SZA + Kendrick Lamar

I won’t be petty and count SZA too. The video for “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA won Best Visual Effects. But damn, that video for the “Black Panther” soundtrack song and SZA’s performance are breathtaking.

2018 MTV VMAs Performance | Jennifer Lopez

It’s so good to see Jennifer Lopez perform again. For her special performance, she sang and danced a medley of “Waiting for Tonight“, On the Floor, “Dance Again“, “I Ain’t Your Mama“, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing“, “I’m Glad“, “Get Right“, “All I Have“, “Jenny From the Block” (with guest DJ Khalid), “I’m Real” (with guest Ja Rule), Ain’t It Funny” (with guest Ja Rule), and “Dinero” (with guest DJ Khalid). 

JLo reprised the “Flashdance” tribute of the “I’m Glad” video by including a bit of the chair dance, and the winter motif of “All I Have” with gorgeous fur coats and the female dancers in that video’s iconic makeup. It was a massive production with a handful of costume morphs, several handfuls of dancers that had to work hard to keep up with the legend of pop music, but regardless, she was really singing. It was clear Lopez wasn’t lip-syncing, and she sounded phenomenal. The whole time, she was ogled and video’d charmingly by her grinning boyfriend, Alex Rodriguez.

Shawn Mendes took due time to introduce the Video Vanguard awardee, and I’m sure she took every second to calm her heart rate. And later in the show, looking still impossibly gorgeous, Jennifer Lopez accepted the Best Collaboration Award with Cardi B and DJ Khalid, for “Dinero”

On accepting the 2018 Video Vanguard award, Jennifer said, “I grew up on MTV, and this is really a tremendous honor for me. It has been an incredible journey of dreaming my wildest dreams and then kind of watching them come true. Music, acting, performing, this career has always been kind of an obsession for me.”

She honored her children and the renewed purpose they brought to her life, thanked her friends and family, her team and production partners over the years, and her man. “You’re like my twin soul. We are like mirror images of each other. There’s so much more to experience and there’s no one else I’d rather do that with.” Jennifer closed with thanking her fans. “Special thank you to the fans. You have become my heart. You guys have won me over forever. Thank you, I love you!”

On winning the Best Collaboration Video, Jennifer was thrilled to recall that while at her first VMA’s she’d been nominated for four and won none, tonight she’s won two. DJ Khalid, without an ounce of JLo’s giddiness leaned into the mic with, “I just wanna say, another one.” Good for him.

Check out Jennifer Lopez on how Madonna, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, and Tina Turner influenced her, her life in music video production, and preparing to perform and accept her Video Vanguard award, on MTV’s coverage of their 2018 VMA event on their Youtube channel.

2018 MTV VMAs Performance | Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is a never ending surprise of womanliness, thoughtfulness, and startlingly angelic singing. She performed “God Is a Woman” tonight with spectacular theatricality, then honored the most nurturing women of her life by bringing her mother, grandmother and aunt on stage for the number’s close.

Ms. Grande received the Best Pop Video award for “No Tears Left to Cry”, and thanked her fans and her fiancé, Pete Davidson – who clearly feels like the luckiest man in the world.

2018 MTV VMAs Performance | Nicki Minage

Nicki Minaj — a pill I desire but am wary of, a pill that’s hard to swallow but once one does, a little is never enough — gave us all the glamour, attitude, vocal prowess, and coquettish brazenliness we’ve come to expect and hope for. She performed a medley of “Majesty”, “Barbie Dreams”, “Ganja Burn“, and “FEFE”, all from her latest album, Queen.

The location of the Ms. Minaj’s performance seemed an impossible match for Radio City Music Hall, and I later learned that MTV had pre-recorded Nicki Minaj’s number at the Oculus hub for the World Trade Center transit station. Well, it looked, like Nicki as always, out of this world.

But her acceptance of the Best Hip-Hop Video Award for “Chun-Li“, as presented by Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart, was all kinds of live.

2018 MTV VMAs Performance | Jessie Reyez

Want to have your mind blown by fresh young talent? Watch Jessie Reyez‘ performance here at the Video Music Awards. A latin Amy Winehouse talent inheritor perhaps? Mind blown.

Honorable Mentions

2018 MTV VMAs | Most Nominated Artist, Cardi B

Cardi B was nominated for ten VMA awards — Video, Song, and Artist of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Collaboration, Best Choreography, and Best Editing on Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” remix vid, Best Collaboration with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khalid on “Dinero”, Song of the Summer with Maroon 5 (“Girls Like You”), and Best Hip-Hip Video (“Bartier Cardi”).

When the night was over, Ms. B was tied for the most VMA wins with Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”. Impressive. Impressive work and collaboration ethic. Impressively talented and here to stay.

2018 MTV VMAs | Best Choreography Video – Choreographer, Sherrie Silver

On accepting the Best Choreography Video award for Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, Sherrie Silver said, “It means so much to see african dance on such a platform.” This complexly entertaining piece had also been nominated for Best Video with a Message. Read about Sherrie, and the production of this national treasure of a work of art, on

2018 MTV VMAs | Push Artist of the Year, Hayley Kiyoko

This new award in MTV’s U.S. market recognizes excellence in their emerging artists program. Each month, MTV offers exclusive content and performances of a single artist under the name “MTV Push: Artist to Watch”.

On winning the VMA’s first ever MTV Push Artist of the Year Award, Hayley Kiyoko exclaimed, “This validates any queer woman of color that you can follow your dream and I love my fans! My fans gave this to us! We did it, 20GayTeen! 2018!” I’m charmed to no end. You will be too, check out her incredible catalogue of videos.

2018 MTV VMAs | Video of the Year Award Presenter, Madonna

“Aretha Louis Franklin changed the course of my life.” Madonna as a teenager had been getting endless feedback that she was “not tall enough, not blend in enough, not enough enough.” But one day she had an audition where she’d neglected to realize she needed to bring a prepared song and sheet music, and in a bind sang “Natural Woman” — because it’s incredible, and she knew every word.

That audition led to her being picked up by a french star-making team that was her first big break. She returned to making her own path with a tool box of lessons learned, grateful for the experience.

“None of this could have happened without our Lady of Soul. I know she influenced so many people in this room tonight and I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Long live the Queen.” — Madonna, 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.

We also got to hear the truth about Madonna’s rolling around on the stage while performing “Like a Virgin” at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 — she’d apparently lost a shoe coming down the stairs. While not deciding specifically between giving up her choreography trying to find the shoe, and pretending that rolling around on the floor was in fact her choreography, her dress rolled up, she showed her white-leotarded butt, and became pop music history. Apparently her manager told her backstage her career was over.

The latter anecdote was clearly the one she’d intended to share when booked to present the Video of the Year award, and then Aretha Franklin passed away. MTV asked this icon to honor the icon we’ve recently lost. Immediately there was uproar at the way Madonna handled it. Personally I think her story went too long and could have used an editor’s hand. If we’re being kind, and respectful of her intention, she paid tribute and that’s wonderful.

When people pass, we talk about how they impacted us — Madonna shared with us a piece of her life and how it was touched by Aretha Franklin, and acknowledged also the legacy of empowerment all music lovers and music artists have been touched by. I call that authentically respectful, and interesting (as stories of celebrity histories go), if not particularly as moving as other tributes have gone in the last several days. Give her a break.

2018 MTV VMAs | Video & Artist of the Year, Camila Cabello

Camila Cabello, winner of Artist of the Year and Video of the Year, for the fantastic “Havana“, said in accepting her Video of the Year moonman. “Honestly I dedicate this video to Madonna.” I’ll leave it at that. And the video for “Havana”, nominated also for Best Pop and Best Choreography awards.

2018 MTV VMAs | Set Design

The MTV Music Video Awards are the pinnacle of wow factor for live music performance entertainment, and they showed up this year. That graphic projection scrim must have broken records for the largest ever and whatever team designed those graphics deserves an award — along with those who designed the sets, and made that neon bulb sculpture of MTV’s moonman. Brilliant. But how will they top this stupendousness next year?

2018 MTV VMA’s | Opening Act, Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood” is an anthem for artists, for teenagers, for.humans — anyone dealing with feeling overwhelmed. In this song, one realizes they can’t give up because what they’re dedicated to is their calling and therefore their only destiny.

The set design, including the lightning and actual rain storm at the end, was epic. Soaking wet at the end and soaking it in, Shawn shows up as a classic and epic heartthrob for the ages. We feel understood, and stirred, by this talented eye candy, and that’s a vulnerable and wonderful place to be.

2018 MTV VMAs | Passionate Politics, Logic + Ryan Tedder Perform

Introduced as bringing peace, love & positivity to the VMAs, Logic (wearing a tee reading “F*CK THE WALL) and Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic) performed their song “One Day” with a stage full of immigrant children, all wearing tees reading “WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS”, who were later joined and hugged by their parents.

Pass the tissues, please.

2018 MTV VMAs | A Very Special Sponsor

I interrupt this article for an excellent message from a VMA sponsor regarding HIV testing…

2018 MTV VMAs | Encouraging Participation in Democracy

And I’ll close with the MTV debut of their new campaign “+1 the vote” — an ad spot encouraging young people to bring their friends to the polls for midterm elections. Do vote this November. There are tools to register to vote at that link.


Every vote counts. But voting with a friend counts ~a little~ more. Who’s going to be your +1 on Election Day?

Posted by MTV on Monday, August 20, 2018

The end. To those who played the every-time-someone-says-“thank you” drinking game, we salute you. Now I’m off to check the tour dates of these incredible artists. #ListenLive

In Memoriam, Aretha Franklin - 2018 MTV Video Music Awards (video still)
In Memoriam, Aretha Franklin – 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, at Radio City Music Hall (video still)
Kari Leigh London Written by: