Celebrities & Drama Return to the Red Carpet: 2022 VMAs

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Photo courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

Lizzo, TaylorSwift, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Nas X are among this year’s VMA winners.

Lauren Cisewski, Reporter

Among a sea of cameras and lights, 25 awards were handed out to the most prestigious music artists of the year last Tuesday. The VMAs, as with any of its sister award shows, drew in leagues of both controversy and support for its attendants. This year, outfits, performances, snubs, and romances yet again placed the VMA’s name in the lights.

Sparks flew immediately with Taylor Swift’s unexpected appearance. The last time she was seen at the VMAs was 2019: she opted to forgo both the virtual 2020 and in-person 2021 ceremonies. She debuted in a crystallized minidress by designer Oscar de la Renta, a look that has been popularly declared the “best of the night” in a slim competition against Lil Nas X and Nicki Minaj.

“Taylor Swift was the best dressed. She’s amazing,” Rachel McGuinness (‘24) said.

The attention on her was only multiplied when she later announced the incoming release of her newest album, Midnight.

“[My favorite part] was when Taylor Swift won the VMA. And her releasing her new album,” McGuinness said.

Taylor Swift made waves in an Oscar de la Renta minidress. (Photo courtesy of InStyle)

Swift, one of the VMA’s most lauded attendants, further drew attention by choosing to forgo a performance. But there was no lack of entertainment from others—Nicki Minaj and an Eminem-Snoop Dog collaboration capitalized on the empty space left by Swift.

“Nicki Minaj [was the best],” said Shruti Nainwal (‘24).

While performances, winners, and outfits were the meat of the night, drama behind the scenes was easy for straying eyes to see. Addison Rae, a young TikTok star (who notably missed this year’s VMAs), is no stranger to a spectacle. In her absence, the spotlight was stolen by her mother’s romantic appearance with rapper Yung Gravy. A hotly-debated kiss was captured on the red carpet and later reposted by Yung Gravy on his Instagram with a caption decrying the controversy—which only fanned the flames.

“I loved [Taylor], but mostly Young Gravy and Addison Rae’s mom,” said Auston Wilson (‘23). “I saw footage of someone accepting an award and in the background, Yung Gravy and Addison Rae’s mom are just making out.”

The award show is just as entertaining as it is a reminder of how removed the lives of celebrities are from that of the general public. And for some of pop culture’s most idolized figures, events such as the VMAs serve as their primary or only form of interaction with the public.

“[It was most entertaining] just seeing a bunch of celebrities who are basically hobbits. And you never see them other than award shows. It was really fun to see them and also everybody dressing up,” said Emma Huitt (‘25).

But at the end of the night, the VMAs exist to award the highest-performing music artists of the year, and there is never a lack of scrutiny when it comes to who receives one of the 25 silver statues.

Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and Justin Bieber also came away victorious. (Photo courtesy of Ew Music)

Taylor Swift won the most awards this year, coming away with three for her “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” music video. Other notable winners include Lil Nas X, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, Harry Styles, and Dove Cameron.

While it’s easy to focus only on those who walked away from the night victorious, the VMA winners are almost always hotly debated, particularly by the fans of those artists who didn’t win.

“Nessa Barrett’s song […] that she was nominated for was really good. And it was about her best friend that died,” said Huitt.

With everything from dance-heavy performances to red-carpet drama, the VMAs continues its cult-following and legacy every year—and even if its excitement is for one night only, it promises to always return stronger next fall.