Queen Bey reigned supreme at the VMAs tonight. There were no survivors.
A concept album centered on a powerful narrative, Lemonade explores themes of marital infidelity, black womanhood, and American survival with depth and nuance. Beyoncé enlisted scores of collaborators to work on the project, including Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, and The Weeknd, but her visuals focused the camera squarely on her fellow black women.
Her VMA performance shone the spotlight on black women, too, and delivered dozens more iconic moments at the same time. She was introduced by Serena Williams, the record-shattering tennis star who also appears on Lemonade. Beginning with "Pray You Catch Me," Beyoncé was joined by dancers who wore different costumes for each song. She wove a brief dance breakdown into "Hold Up" — then she pulled out Hot Sauce and smashed the MTV camera to the ground. She set the floor on fire during "Don't Hurt Yourself." She pulled no stops and took no prisoners.
Beyoncé closed, of course, with "Formation." Her dancers fell to the ground around her, doing synchronized moves while lying on their backs. By the time the camera panned away from the stage, they'd formed the Venus symbol — a visual shorthand for femininity, and a nod to Beyoncé's ongoing celebration of black women.