There was no better option for a closing performance at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards than the queen herself, Beyoncé. On Sunday night (August 25), she took viewers on an emotional journey with a well-orchestrated medley from her recent, self-titled album, that ended with tears as she accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from her husband Jay Z.
What more could we have asked for?
Bey's set began on a very emotional note, with the cameras zoomed in tightly on her face, as she sang "Mine" surrounded by dancers with porcelain skin, and slowly transitioned into "Haunted." Her first few songs were the most soul-baring of the night, as she continued with "No Angel" and "Jealous," emphasizing the weight of all those lyrics. And while those emotions came pouring out, the dancers around her went through several outfit changes, to fit the mood of each track.
By the time Bey got to "Blow," things started to heat up. For this number, she and her dancers lined up cabaret style, with the word "Cherry" lit up behind her in neon letters (you know, "turn that cherry out") and she really began to put her hips into it. With the lights hitting that bedazzled fitted bodysuit, it was nothing short of mesmerizing.
And, of course, when "Drunk in Love" came on the crowd really started to lose their composure. Bey was posted up on a set of steps, surrounded by dancers who were in headstands around her, only giving the audience a great rare view...if you know what I mean. Eventually she sauntered down the stage for that "surfboard" grind and the cameras cut to Taylor Swift getting busy in the audience.
Aside from Taylor, "Orange is the New Black" star Laverne Cox was arguably the most excited fan in The Forum, completely losing her mind to every single track that was performed.
"Rocket" and "Partition" were next, and just like the sexy video for the latter (which Bey said was inspired by a visit to the Crazy Horse Cabaret in Paris), she performed some scintillating acrobatics on a small platform, flipping over and whipping her hair to and fro and then headed to the stripper poles.
There was still more left, though. Like "Flawless," which was the point in the show when Beyoncé really shook off all of the soulful vibes and just went for all out breaking-it-down. On the song, she makes an important feminist statement by sampling lines from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and it was on bold display during her VMA performance.
Lines from the poem were splashed across the screen in bold, pink letters as she and her dancers took their positions in the dark. "We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller," the screen read. "We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man."
Now that she was putting it all out there, Bey also slipped in that line from the remix of "Flawless," where she declares that "of course sometimes sh-- goes down when it's a billion dollars on the elevator," in reference to the fight between Jay Z and her sister Solange. At that point, we got another shot of Jay Z and Blue Ivy sitting front row in the audience.
After this Bey kept the crowd lifted with "Yonce," and "XO," and then completed the night's emotional arc with family footage playing behind her as she performed "Blue."
Jay and Blue were so proud, and we knew that because Hov was beaming when he made his way onto the stage to present his wife with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, crowning her "the best living entertainer." Beyoncé couldn't stop the tears from flowing, especially while her daughter was clapping up a storm on stage.
"I'm so full, I have nothing to say," she said, all choked up. "I'm filled with so much gratitude, I just thank God for this moment. I love ya'll so much. Blue I love you Blue, my beloved (Jay Z) I love you. My fans, I love you. MTV, I love you, goodnight."