11:35: And we're out! Check out a video of Beyoncé accepting her Video Vanguard award – from her family! – here.
10:55: And now, Beyonce, apparently for the next 35 minutes? I guess that's what we get for a show in which she lost every award she was up for (at least among those presented on the live show). So settle in, we'll be back with a recap once it's all said and done.
10:46: Jimmy Fallon comes out to do some business, then announce the winner for Video of the Year, which, yes, we're already there, because we're ceding a full forty minutes over to Beyoncé. Which ... sure? Miley Cyrus, who'd been a total nonfactor all night, wins Video of the Year for "Wrecking Ball." She's right there, but she sends a kid named Jesse up to the stage, to accept on behalf of teen runaways and homeless youth. Heck of a lot better than a shout-out to Terry Richardson, I'll say that.
10:40: Jay Pharoah-character-in-waiting Jason Derulo joins Demi Lovato to introduce Maroon 5's performance. They're supposed to be performing from a special location, but I honestly think they're in the parking lot?
10:33: I cannot say enough how good Jennifer Lopez looks. Everybody else needs to clean up after themselves and go home. She takes the stage to introduce Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora in a performance from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Really wish that show was still on Broadway.
Also, everything about the reaction shots in this performance is great. We've got Taylor dancing with Lorde, Katy Perry clapping on Sam Smith, etc. Everything you could want in a performance you never wanted – and make no mistake, none of us wanted this.
10:27: Robin Williams is briefly memorialized, without a ton of fanfare, and I can't decide whether I'm happy or confused that Jim Carrey wasn't asked to do this instead of actually present an award.
10:26: The Artist to Watch Award bypasses Sam Smith and 5 Seconds of Summer and Charli XCX and goes to Fifth Harmony, which is exactly the kind of "Well, I guess their fans mobilized" thing that sometimes happens. Nobody remembers Tokio Hotel, but that happened to them as well. Three-Fifths Harmony shake Sam Smith's hand. Katy Perry golf-claps for them.
10:16: Everybody' favorite youth actress Chloe Grace Moretz and Teen Wolf/The Maze Runner's Dylan O'Brien (who's lost the shades from the red carpet, but not the three-days-slungover appearance) come out to introduce 5 Seconds of Summer, who aren't even playing their fun song about American Apparel underwear, which is absolutely a mistake. After the performance, we cut away to Katy Perry and Sam Smith, who are clearly seated in the champagne lounge, far away from the riff-raff of the rest of this show.
10:09: Rockin' Lorde takes the VMA for Best Rock Video for that hard-ass banger "Royals." When she gets up, we see she's been given the Selena Gomez Memorial "Proximity to Taylor Swift" seat. She delivers her speech to the completely wrong camera, which, again, I'll happily take to be a metaphor.
10:05: If you're as bored as we are – but not quite Nicki'd out! – you can check out the "Bang Bang" video on MTV's website.
9:56: Uzo Aduba (Emmy-winner!), Laverne Cox, and Taylor Schilling are out here to introduce Usher and Nicki Minaj, and remind us that Orange Is the New Black is going to win a bunch of awards tomorrow night that won't be bestowed by a bunch of screaming teenagers.
The sound mix is such that Usher is practically inaudible during the verses, nor can you hear Nicki much either. True to the pop-cultural moment, Nicki's kind of everywhere tonight, even if she pretty much just crosses from one side of the stage and then leaves. Usher is trying very hard to be the showman that MTV can hang their hat on, and his face is incredibly sweaty, and I'm OK with that reading as a metaphor. There is also a weird butt-to-head bump that I'm not comfortable with.
9:55: Jay Pharoah had a VERY good season on Saturday Night Live last year, and a loooot of that goodwill is getting thrown away on these increasingly irritating returns to the stage. This time, he's going his Kanye impersonation, though not really about anything.
9:47: Common takes the stage to talk about Ferguson, because when MTV wants to be able to borrow credulity, it scrounges up Common's phone number and gives him a call. He calls for a moment of silence, which he receives, before everybody goes back to screaming for Drake, the winner of the Best Hip Hop video. Drake isn't here, as he is still in a fugue state from his time filming the "Anaconda" music video.
9:43: So during this commercial break (in which Rita Ora just told us to not go anywhere "OR I'LL KILL YOU"), can we reflect on that bizarre bit of ad-libbing Taylor added to her "Shake It Off" performance?
She's not here to be bitten by snakes.
9:38: Kim Kardashian West emerges in her caftan to introduce her very good friend Sam Smith, currently Public Enemy Number One for his hatred of Grindr. He sounds slightly overwrought, but he looks good enough to never need to use a dating app anyway.
9:34: The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels and The Majestic's Jim Carrey are out on stage now. At one time, Jim Carrey could not have been more in the heart of the MTV demographic. That time was called "your misspent and departed youth." Jeff Daniels was never at the heart of the MTV demographic, Dumb and Dumber. The sight of Jim Carrey actually throwing himself onto the ground for the approval of an uncaring Millennial horde is just the saddest thing. They're presenting Best Pop Video, and it does to the unintelligible pop deliciousness of Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea's "Problem."
Only Ariana accepts the award, for whatever reason that makes Iggy look furious. Will Ariana shout out her brother, currently held captive in the Big Brother house?? She will not.
9:33: Looks like we're doubling down on Jay Pharoah, who comes out as Jay Z to pimp the Artist to Watch home vote (even though I thought that's what 5 Seconds of Summer won out there on the red carpet).
9:26: Time for Best Male Video, which is completely unsurprisingly won by Ed Sheeran. How many rounds are we going to go on the "Who is this Ed Sheeran?" thing before we give it up and realize that a ginger moppet Brit with the Taylor Swift seal of approval is NOT A SURPRISE when it comes to his success.
9:21: Out of a cloud of smoke and dark magic appears Lorde, to introduce just her bestest friend in the world Taylor Swift. What is a liveblogger to do if he doesn't care for "Shake It Off" nor for Ms. Swift's chronic insincerity during "comedy" bits? Well, he scans the backup dancers for So You Think You Can Dance alums. I see you, Jasmine Harper! (He also lives for Miley Cyrus's ambiguously judgmental stares, right.) Say this for Taylor, between the giant lit-up "1989" and the fireworks and the frantic choreography, she's certainly able to craft a performance that looks a lot like A Moment.
9:14: Jay Pharoah's bit of stand-up about the women of the VMAs probably did not do much for his hopes of hosting anything on MTV some day.
9:12: Katy Perry wins Best Female Video over four videos that were actually well-made and not total embarrassments, so that's the tone we're setting for the rest of the night.
9:08: Stage charisma is the watchword during the opening performance, as Ariana Grande kicks things off with a dead-eyed "Break Free" that's void of any kind of presence or personality. This gives way to Nicki Minaj who gets more out of one pair of batted eyelashes than Ariana will all evening. Nicki's only problem is getting drowned out by the over-mixed audience. Well, that's her only problem until she has to re-emerge during the "Bang Bang" performance, which sees her rush the stage having to hold her dress together, as that costume change was just too quick for everyone.
9:00: THE SHOW BEGINS
8:59: At some point, I think it was probably Sean Combs at first, arriving at the red carpet in some kind of flashy vehicle became a thing that had to be topped. Puffy sailed up in a yacht, eventually, so nobody can top it. Katy Perry, doing what she always does, just rolled up in a burn-orange car of some sort. The show is about to start, though, so we don't have to think about her much.
8:47: Pre-show host Christina Garibaldi looks like every contestant on Survivor who doesn't make any big moves and let's the better players carry them into the jury phase before getting cut loose and suddenly acting all indignant about people who lasted longer.
8:44: "Boom Clap" just got used in an ad for The Fault in Our Stars Extended Edition. Maybe they'll just do this in every commercial break with every song that just got performed. (Honestly, it would probably work.)
8:40: Charli XCX is your second red-carpet musical performance of the show with a very canned-sounding "Boom Clap." Remember when SIlverchair performed the pre-show in like '96? Remember Silverchair?? They were Australian like Iggy Azalea and they sang about eating disorders.
8:38: Third-place X-Factor finishers Fifth Harmony are your first red-carpet musical performance of the show. Remember when No Doubt performed atop the Radio City Music Hall marquee in like 1995? These girls do not.
8:32: Sway just took an hour and a half to set up a "surprise" appearance of Usher in the bleachers with the fans. MTV screws up the Usher retrieval so he's just kind of stranded there among normals for a bit. What if he had to stand there all night? Rubbing shoulders with reg'lar folk?
8:30: They kick it to Sway "with Usher," but instead he's there with Jennifer Lopez. I'll take it! J-Lo just singlehandedly showed up Iggy's ice-glam gown by a factor of 100, which makes the fact that she's announcing a video of the "Booty" remix featuring Iggy (and directing by Hype Williams) all the funnier.
8:28: Teen Wolf's Dylen O'Brien assures us that The Maze Runner, in which he stars, "is just gonna be awesome." He's wearing sunglasses, thus robbing us of his sweet, soulful eyes.
8:26: "I heard Nicki just beat that shit!" Miley says, of Nicki Minaj's Vimeo record-setting "Anaconda" video. A discussion of Miley's deficits in the ass department ensues. "It's not about twerking, it's about music." A year removed from "Blurred Lines" last year, Miley is getting something of an elder stateswoman vibe, which is crazy.
8:25: Thus far, a lot of Sway's job at this pre-show is to remind the talent (Miley Cyrus, in this case) that Lucy Hale is here and they should speak to her.
8:18: The question of how to dress for the VMAs is an open-ended one, since meat-dress avant garde stands toe-to-toe with dressed-down casual and also glammed up glitz. Iggy Azalea is wearing a silvery-white Versace dress that wouldn't be out of place on the red carpet of a real award show like the Oscars, so good for her for taking this seriously.
8:14: "I think like we might be best friends," says Lucy Hale to previous pre-show host Taylor Swift, not realizing what a can of worms that just opened. Now Taylor has to add Lucy to her spreadsheet of Best Friends and calculate how best to cultivate that friendship through Instagram shout-outs and Ice Bucket Challenges. Or she would if she didn't just look at Lucy like she was struggling to remember her name. Meanwhile, Taylor is dressed in a pale blue onesie with letters all over it, which is in keeping with her 1989 theme, I guess because it's when she was in her infancy?
8:12: We have InstaGLAM correspondents on the scene now: Becky G and Ingrid Nilsen. Becky G has that song "Shower" that your hipster friend really wanted to become Song of Summer. Ingrid Nilsen is a YouTuber who goes by "missglamorazzi," which is a lot.
8:07: Pretty Little Liars star (and apparently a "singer" as well) Lucy Hale is co-hosting these red-carpet festivities. She just handed 5 Seconds of Summer (#5SOS!) with the first award of the night, the Artist to Watch award. With exposure like this, a full hour removed from the actual awards show, you have to imagine they will go far.
8:05: Red Carpet Show time! The show proper doesn't start until 9pm, because the youths can stay up hella late. Jason Derulo is making a big deal about getting the fans outside to do the Wave. "The first Wave in MTV history," which is probably true, but only because nobody's made a big deal about the Wave since 1978.
It's the show you've all been waiting for that isn't the Emmys! The MTV Video Music Awards are broadcasting from Inglewood, California, and we're ready for as much crazy as these young artists can provide.
On tap to perform: Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Nicki Minaj will be opening the show with their "Lady Marmalade" spiritual sequel "Bang Bang." Grande and Minaj will also perform their own hits – "Break Free" and "Anaconda," respectively – while Beyoncé will accept the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. Rumor has it she'll be performing a medley of her entire surprise album:
We're joining a red carpet already in progress now, but if you want to get caught up on the action before the show proper begins at 9 p.m. ET, read the full list of nominations, plus our dissection of each category from July. If you're all set for this year, take a trip to the past with our ranking of all 30 prior VMA ceremonies. We also checked in on those involved with 2009's "Imma Let You Finish"-Gate and the authors who crafted thinkpieces about Miley Cyrus' "meltdown" last year.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.