The gremlins first struck just days before the VMAs, when a six-foot-long boa constrictor reportedly bit a backup dancer during a rehearsal for Minaj’s performance of her “Anaconda” video.
After the resulting confusion had been sorted, Minaj went on to help open Sunday night’s big show with a booty-shaking bang until a major wardrobe malfunction put a spanner in the works when she performed with Ariana Grande and Jessie J.
The “Pink Friday” singer started out in ripping form, rapping, dancing and whipping up the crowd. But when she performed “Bang Bang” her outfit split down the front, forcing her to literally get it together and casting a pall over what remained of the performance.
The awards also proved disappointing for Barbados’ pop princess Rihanna, who was left empty-handed despite her nomination with Eminem for “The Monster.” Eminem nevertheless picked up the editing award for “Rap God,” while Rihanna’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Drake bagged the hip-hop award for “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
The night’s top honour went to Miley Cyrus, whose “Wrecking Ball” won the award for video of the year. In stark contrast to last year’s VMAs, when Cyrus delivered an electrifying twerking display, the singer took a back seat on Sunday night as she assigned a young man to accept her award to raise awareness for runaways and homeless youth.
The night nevertheless belonged to Beyonce, who took home four awards, delivered a stunning performance, and dispelled rumours of an impending split with her music mogul husband Jay Z.
“Queen Bey” hugged Jay Z and their two-year-old daughter Blue Ivy after they watched from the audience as she performed a medley of her hits at the show’s finale.
The Carter family shared the stage as Beyonce accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. Jay Z called her the “greatest living entertainer,” while she referred to him as “my beloved.”
Other highlights of the show included a moment of silence for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.
A brief tribute was also paid to the late Robin Williams with a photo montage of the actor-comedian’s career set against the background of Coldplay’s song “A Sky Full of Stars.”
Other high points came via Taylor Swift, who ditched country in favour of pure pop music when she performed her new song “Shake It Off” for the first time live on TV during the telecast. Also delivering the goods were Maroon 5, Sam Smith, Usher and Azeala, who performed her single “Black Widow” with British hitmaker Rita Ora.
Winners of the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, presented Sunday at the Forum in Inglewood, California:
— Video of the year: “Wrecking Ball,” Miley Cyrus
— Female video: “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry
— Male video: “Sing,” Ed Sheeran
— Pop video: “Problem,” Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea
— Hip-hop video: “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake feat. Majid Jordan
— Rock video: “Royals,” Lorde
— Collaboration: “Drunk in Love,” Beyonce feat. Jay Z
— Artist to watch: “Miss Movin On,” Fifth Harmony
— Video with a social message: “Pretty Hurts,” Beyonce
— MTV Clubland award: “Stay the Night”: Zedd feat. Hayley Williams
— Cinematography: “Pretty Hurts,” Beyonce
— Choreography: “Chandelier,” Sia
— Art direction: “Reflektor,” Arcade Fire
— Editing: “Rap God,” Eminem
— Visual effects: “The Writing’s On the Wall,” OK Go
— Direction: “Turn Down for What,” DJ Snake & Lil Jon
— Lyric video: “Don’t Stop,” 5 Seconds of Summer
— Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award: Beyonce