Recap of the 2020 MTV VMAs: The Inventive Production Value of the Music Industry’s New Normal

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Courtesy of VMAs on Instagram

Tiara Starks and Sean McGuire

Using unique technology, pre-filmed footage, and green screens, the MTV Video Music Awards streamed on Aug. 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and live-event restrictions.

This year, there was not a physical audience at the VMAs. However, this allowed the award show to film in multiple cities and countries around the world, including New York, Los Angeles and South Korea.

Jesse Ignjatovic, an executive producer of the event, had been working on the award show since July. Ignjatovic said that there would be many obstacles to overcome.

“We can do A or B or C and the artist will come back with what they’re thinking and want to do,” said Ignjatovic. “This year it was an assortment of different options.”

What was interesting about the show’s approach to production was the element of surprise. Each artist that attended was asked if they wanted to be in the interior or exterior settings for their performance. One of the most anticipated collaborations, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s hit song, “Rain On Me” had implemented edgy virtual reality technology.

“There was that element of, ‘What are they gonna do?’ or ‘Who’s performing where?’” said Ignjatovic. “Mystery and being able to hold things in until show night is kind of exciting, it added a layer to the show.”

The creativity of this production molded nicely into the narrative of the awards. With this year being a competitive time for music, the winners of each award just made sense. In addition to her “Artist of the Year” win, Lady Gaga took home the first-ever “Tricon Award,” which recognizes entertainers who have excelled in acting, fashion, and activism.

“I want you to know that you can do this too,” said Gaga. “Just because we’re separated right now and culture may feel less alive in some ways, I know a renaissance is coming, and the wrath of pop culture will inspire you, and the rage of art will empower you as it responds to hardship with its generosity and love.”

Other wins included “New Artist of the Year” going to “Say So” singer and rapper, Doja Cat, and the “Video of the Year” award being awarded to The Weeknd for “Blinding Lights.”

It seems that this level of production is here to stay for the award season and possibly for other future live events. Though, who’s to say if this inventive new way of producing award shows doesn’t just become the “new normal?”