Not even a global pandemic can slow the Bailey sisters down. In June, Chloe x Halle dropped their second project, Ungodly Hour, which included collaborations with noted songwriter Victoria Monét and a sign-off from Beyoncé herself. Later that same month, they delivered one of the most memorable performances of this year's BET Awards, in which they performed a sumptuous medley of the collection's breakout singles "Forgive Me" and "Do It" in a dance-off against themselves.
The duo, who are in their early '20s, brought that same unstoppable energy to the 2020 Video Music Awards, then added a touch of polished chrome, with a bouncy performance preceding the show. Disco seems to be a running theme at this year's Video Music Awards — the South Korean band BTS will debut their discotheque-inspired English single "Dynamite" later in the evening — and Chloe x Halle's blissful groove seemed perfectly tailored for the vibe.
The sisters walked into the frame wearing chrome, armor-like bodysuits and thigh-high boots to match while illuminated from behind by glowing starshine. "Welcome to the 'Ungodly Hour,'" they said, launching into a dance in perfect unison to the song by the same name, the title track of their latest LP. As their staccato movements continued, silver crests and chains dangling from their heads shook and whipped wildly, giving the sisters the appearance of cyborg sphinxes. References to retrofuturism — to Metropolis's Maschinenmensch or the robotic illustrations of the Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama — could easily be made.
Or maybe Chloe and Halle intended some confluence of all of the above. Watching this show, one can't help but feel the lyrics, a tell-off of a lover who only calls late when they want one thing, might allude to something larger, even fantastical, like aliens who come in the night. Anything seems possible, and with a performance of this star-affirming caliber, it's easy for fantasy to run wild. As the show reaches its climax, Chloe and Halle are drenched in a downpour of white strobes, like a sign from above, some greater power calling them home.
Earlier this year, Chloe x Halle told MTV News about collaborating on Ungodly Hour. "I love how, in the moment, we were just making good music," Chloe said. "We weren't making anything saying, like, 'Oh, this has to be our first song' or 'This has to be a hit.' We were just making music that made us feel good."
"There's definitely some songs on there that will make you cry, put you in your feelings," Halle added. "But there's also songs that'll make you want to twerk, and we thought that's OK, because it's a reflection of everything that you are. People have layers. It's not just one thing."
The 2020 VMAs have kicked off across MTV's linear and digital platforms, as well as with several outdoor performances around New York City. Find the complete winners list here and everything else you need to know at vma.mtv.com.