NEW JERSEY—I will be honest I was not eager to watch the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards which unfolded on Tuesday, September 12. Yes, a Tuesday of all days, what in the hell was MTV thinking. You have far more interesting content airing on Tuesdays then a music awards ceremony that lost plenty of is luster nearly 10 years ago, and it didn’t help that the ceremony clocked in at close to 4 hours. The Academy Awards and the Golden Globes don’t even last that long and they hand out all the awards. The first 2 hours of the show were strong, but after that it became apparent it was a drag to get to the end.

The awards are voted by the public, so it doesn’t matter if you actually earned or deserve the prize, if you have a torrent of fans you can claim the top prize. In addition, you have a big idea who is going to win based on who shows up to the ceremony. The star power the ceremony previously had no longer exists, and I just realized with the writer and actor’s strike currently in tact with no end in sight, I didn’t expect many A-list actors or actresses to attend because they can’t promote any of their upcoming projects due to contract terms.

Taylor Swift was the big winner of the night taking home four awards including Best Pop Video for “Anti-Hero,” Song of the Year for “Anti-Hero” and Video of the Year for “Anti-Hero.” Hmm, I wonder if she would have been victorious in some of those categories if Beyoncé were nominated.

Performers taking the stage included: Anitta, Demi Lovato, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, Diddy, Doja Cat, Fall Out Boy, Future, KAROL G, Kelsea Ballerini, Lil Wayne, Maneskin, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, Shakira and Swae Lee to name a few. As stated previously, major lack of star power. A performance by Beyoncé would have been huge for the show, but I think she is still touring.

The ceremony opened with an amazing performance by rapper Lil Wayne before the big reunion that TMZ spoiled in advance: the reunion of N’Sync. Yes, the crowd was ecstatic and so was the celebrities in the house, especially Taylor who was be-gifted the first prize of the night by the iconic boy band. As Taylor said it best, those guys going on tour would sell out a ton of stadiums and people would be lining up to see them.

Shakira did a medley of her songs before she was honored with the Video Vanguard trophy. Diddy was honored with the Global Icon Award and I must say it was such a treat to see him perform again and hear his iconic hits as he received his flowers courtesy of Mary J. Blige and had his children appear on stage with him. There was a massive tribute honoring 50 years of hip-hop that included LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, DMC, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. What the hell was with Nicki Minaj hosting? She is not a host people, she does not have the chops; she doesn’t. The rapper did walk away with Best Hip-Hop Video for “Super Freaky Girl.”

Other big winners of the night included Anitta for Best Latin Video, Sza for Best R&B Video and Best Collaboration going to Shakira and Karol G for “TQG.” Overall the ceremony was not a bust it just needed a massive improvement on the pacing that was just off towards the second half of the ceremony. That performance by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion of their new hit “Bongos” was bonkers and quite entertaining to say the least, as was the second opening performance of the night by Olivia Rodrigo whose performance her hit “Vampire” amongst others.

For the first time in a while I could say, the MTV VMAs were bringing back that iconic feeling that had been missing from the iconic event for years. Could we see a return to glory in 2024, time will tell.