Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber top star-packed MTV VMAs

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Lil Nas X won video of the year at Sunday's MTV VMAs on a night Justin Bieber triumphantly returned to the stage.
Lil Nas X won video of the year at Sundays MTV VMAs on a night that Justin Bieber triumphantly returned to the stage as a performer and as winner of the artist of the year.

Bieber won artist of the year and kicked off Sunday's ceremony with an energetic performance that featured him rappelling from the ceiling of Barclays Center and launching into "Stay" with Kid LAROI and his single "Ghost."

"I do not take this for granted," Lil Nas X said while accepting the night's final award for the video for his song, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)."

The VMAs celebrated MTV's 40th anniversary, mixing moments between early network stars like Cyndi Lauper and show opener Madonna with high-octane performances by newer stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Camila Cabello and Chloe.

But much of the early show belonged to Bieber, who was the leading nominee going into the ceremony. Sunday was his first VMAs performance in six years, and also took home the best pop honor for "Peaches," featuring Giveon - who accompanied him onstage.

Sporting baggy clothes and a hoodie, Bieber showed his appreciation for the awards being in-person and thanked his wife, Hailey, for supporting him.

Justin Bieber accepts the award for artist of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Sunday in New York. Charles Sykes / AP

"As we know, there's so much going on in the world," Bieber said during his acceptance speech after winning artist of the year. "We are in unprecedented times with COVID. Music is an amazing outlet to reach people together. We're all here together."

Opening the show, Madonna told the screaming crowd: "They said we wouldn't last. But we're still here."

Moments…
The Associated Press
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