Rihanna’s wardrobe and cutting edge hairdos seem to change just as quickly as her mood, so it was only natural then that she sported a sexy, freshly cropped haircut to perform her Talk That Talk single “Cockiness” for the first time at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday night (September 6) with some help from A$AP Rocky.
As cameras cut to the interior of Staples Center for the night’s first performance, the backdrop was aglow with red and orange hues and stairs rose slowly out of the stage, with Rihanna perched at the top in a throne of her very own. Clad in skintight red leather pants with a sheer flowing top, deep red lipstick and a matching red head wrap, Rihanna seemed to be channeling the mysterious character she first introduced us to in her video for “Where Have You Been.”
Descending slowly from her throne, Rihanna joined dancers for a breakdown to the song’s hook, with provocative gestures that made the lyrics crystal clear, in case there was any confusion. Her dancers were clothed in shiny, skintight leopard bodysuits and mini-skirts, flanking her on both sides as she sauntered down the walkway belting out the track, until A$AP Rocky interrupted to deliver his verse from the newly released remix to “Cockiness.”
Although it was his first time performing at the VMAs, the Harlem rapper showed no signs of nervousness, dressed in all black with a touch of leather for flare. Instead, he took the opportunity to plant a big kiss on Rihanna’s face and squeeze her behind for the world to see, after spitting his lines. If Rihanna was alarmed by the show of affection, there was no chance for it to register because before fans could blink she was in the crowd with them, just as Calvin Harris dropped the beat for “We Found Love.”
Harris manned the turntables from the stage, turning the set into an all-out dance party, complete with strobe lights and balloons tumbling down onto the stage as Rihanna spun, sang, danced and laughed happily, bringing her set to an end.