On Sunday, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center hosted a party the likes of which the brand-new arena has never seen before: the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. And it rocked. With performances by Lady Gaga, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and ’NSYNC(!), not to mention a slew of KAWS-designed Moonmen handed out to our favorite artists, the night was one for the history books.
But the winner’s column only tells half the story. From Jared Leto’s hair to a fondling foam finger, here are the night’s highlights and lowlights.
Winner: Wardrobe Changes
Lady Gaga opened the show with a performance of “Applause,” and we have to give a hand to her costume designer for engineering a dizzying number of wardrobe changes. Mother Monster began the set ensconced in a white robe with a matching box on her head. She then transitioned into a blue sparkly suit and blonde bob. Next came the bright yellow wig and ARTPOP-inspired make-up, followed by a finale look the Little Mermaid would have been proud of: a long, flowing wig, sea shell bra and matching G-string. Did we forget to mention Gaga did it all while dancing her ass off? “Applause,” indeed.
Loser: Robin Thicke’s Mantel
Though Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is arguably the most ubiquitous song of 2013 — not to mention he was up for four VMAs — the singer left without a single Moonman for his mantel. I guess it just wasn’t the year for MTV to “Give It 2 U,” Robin.
Winner or Loser: Foam Fingers
Speaking of Thicke, the crooner’s crotch got really friendly with a foam finger during his and Miley Cyrus’ joint performance. (It should be noted Cyrus gave her own nether regions a good rub with the sports paraphernalia, too.) Depending upon how you feel about their respective groins, you’re either highly envious of that finger or think it belongs in a Dumpster outside Barclays.
Winner: Jared Leto’s Hair
Ombre and beach waves? Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto had the most on-point hair of the night.
Winner: Our 2000 Selves
Will they or won’t they? That was the question on every ’NSYNC lovers’ lips in the days leading up to the VMAs, when rumors began swirling that the boyband would reunite in honor of Justin Timberlake’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. And, thankfully, they didn’t tear up our hearts. The newly appointed President of Pop was joined onstage during his medley by JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick for “Girlfriend” before waving “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Timberlake later shouted out his former bandmates in his acceptance speech, saying, “Half of the Moonmen I’ve won I’ve won with those four guys right there. We can keep it at my house, but I’m gonna share this award with them.”
Loser: Backstreet Boys
Winner: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Coming Out
Though Justin Timberlake technically won more Moonmen (if you count his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award), the VMA virgins had one of the biggest nights of any performer, winning three awards (Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Cinematography and Best Video With a Social Message) and performing with Mary Lambert and surprise guest Jennifer Hudson.
Loser: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Accent
We love you, JGL. And we’re really excited to see “Don Jon.” But let’s lose the accent. You’re not Gwyneth Paltrow.
Winner: The Brooklyn Bridge
Katy Perry. closed out the show with an epic performance of “Roar” inside a boxing ring beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. If you somehow forgot the awards show took place in the borough (but, really, how could you?) this was a visually stunning reminder.