2015 MTV Video Music Awards: Ranking the Performances from Worst to Best

Ah, last night’s MTV VMAs.

Justin Bieber flew like Peter Pan and cried, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift buried their (fake?) hatchet, Miley Cyrus performed a new song about how much she loves pot from the album she surprise-dropped last night, and Demi Lovato performed outside in the parking lot all night long.

Which performances came out on top? Which ones flopped?

Here’s our ranking from worst to best, below:

10. Nick Jonas – “Levels”

Jonas performed his latest song “Levels” during the VMA’s pre-show, but sorry Nick, your dancing with Kelly Osbourne was just wayyyyy to awkward.

9. Twenty One Pilots & A$AP Rocky – “heavydirtysoul/m$/lsd”

Well, everything about this was high-energy; individually, A$AP Rocky’s “M’$” and “L$D” are amazing songs of the summer, and Twenty One Pilots’ “HeavyDirtySoul” and “Lane Boy” are likewise two jams we love. But put it all together into one collaborative effort, and this is what happens. Not bad, pretty cool overall, and very intense:

8. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Downtown”

“Downtown” just reminds us of a not-as-good version of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (which, of course, won for Best Male Video). Their live performance was sort of cute?

7. Miley Cyrus – “Dooo It!”

Cyrus, the host of last night’s party, surprised everyone with a finale performance of “Dooo It!”. As one of only 23 other songs from her new album Dead Petz, which also dropped last night for free, Cyrus sort of took the award shock factor but more because of how many times she gently reminded everyone of how much she loves Mary Jane all. night. long.

6. Demi Lovato and Iggy Azalea – “Cool for the Summer”

Lovato basically had a free concert in the parking lot of the award’s show (did anyone ever let her in, or tell her when the show ended??), and brought out special guest Azalea for her performance of summer banger and playful pseudo-lesbian crush jam “Cool for the Summer”. There was glitter, grinding, indecipherable rapping, and crowd surfing in an inflatable pool, all set in the backdrop of much summer memorabilia (beach balls, swim suits, et cetera).

In the song, Lovato asks to be taken to “paradise”, but this ultimately was not it.

5. Pharrell Williams – “Freedom”

Pharrell, who along with wife Helen Lasichanh were best dressed in Canadian tuxedos, also reminded us of how cute of an ageless, beautiful vampire he is with his performance of his latest single, “Freedom”, in downtown LA. He and his backup singers snapped in tandem in on-point choreography. This one is a booty-shaking, head-bopping win:

4. Nicki Minaj & Taylor Swift – “Trini Dem Girls”, “The Night Is Still Young,” “Bad Blood”

Minaj slayed the red carpet and her opening performance of “Trini Dem Girls”. It had all the theatrics, some fabulous costume pieces (Nicki’s feather headdress? ***Flawless), and of course, a surprise guest: the woman of the hour and Queen of onstage guests herself, Taylor Swift. Their duet of “The Night Is Still Young” and “Bad Blood” not-so-subtly put to rest their alleged feud and Twitter beef once and for all. It was fun, it was gregarious, and if their feud hadn’t been oh so fake, their performance might have ranked higher.

3. Tori Kelly – “Should’ve Been Us”

Woah, girl, that voice. Tori Kelly, her guitar and her soul took to the stage and got super real singing “Should’ve Been Us.” Kelly, who gained notoriety from her Youtube videos, slayed her debut VMA performance. You’ll get goosebumps too:

2. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”

You know we love to get down with The Weeknd on the, er, weekend, so it should come as no surprise that we were into his live performance of “Can’t Feel My Face.” We would have much rather seen him perform “Often” or another track off his new album Beauty Behind the Madness (like a Lana Del Rey duet of “Prisoner”!!), but still. Even Kanye West was feeling it as hard as we were.

Kanye West dancing to The Weeknd at the MTV VMAs 2015
CREDIT: Tumblr

But really, The Weeknd had everyone on their feet as he sang and danced around a fire on stage. The inner-pyros in us all love that kind of stuff, and it went perfectly with his performance:

1. Justin Bieber – “Where Are Ü Now”, “What Do You Mean”

Bieber has been on his whirlwind apology tour all year long, culminating last night with his “comeback” performance. And yes, because everything else was just okay, his performance ranks as the best of the night’s (despite his obvious panting, breathy singing, and sub-par dancing). Here’s why: he shielded his new controversial hair from view with a cute black hat; he performed his new belated-summer anthem “What Do You Mean” for the first time, during which he was harnessed into the air and flew like Peter Pan; and he broke down in tears after returning to the ground. It was pretty endearing.

Justin Bieber cries during mtv vmas 2015
CREDIT: Giphy

We’ve seen emotional comeback performances before, i.e. Chris Brown’s meltdown during “Man in the Mirror” at the BET Awards in 2010, after his totally unforgivable domestic violence incident with Rihanna (and yet, people still forgave him. *sigh*). Though let us be clear: this is not the same thing, and Biebs’ comeback, at 21-years-young, is nothing short of lukewarm. Nevertheless, he’s impressionable because he’s young, not in spite of it, and we ultimately are looking forward to wherever his career takes him now that he’s allegedly (partially) bid his bad boy side adieu.

All in all, none of these performances even came close to ranking amongst Beyoncé epic medley in 2014 or Britney Spears strutting with a snake in 2001, nor will any even be considered as memorable as Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s foam finger, teddy bear, tongue, twerking-laden hot mess in 2013…

See some of the most memorable VMA moments here.