The run-up has been a bit rough -- there have been spills, snake bites, and shootings -- but the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards show is now live at Forum in Ingelwood, and it promises to be a good time. In addition to the doling out of the Moonman Awards (refresh yourself on the nominees here), a top-notch roster of artists are scheduled to perform: born-again pop star Taylor Swift, FADER cover stars past and present Sam Smith and Nicki Minaj (who will perform at least three times tonight), leading nominee and Video Vanguard recipient Beyoncé, and more. Watch along with FADER on Twitter and Instagram, and keep an eye on this space-- we'll be posting videos of the evening's most worthwhile performances as soon as they hit the Internet.
Ariana Grande opened the woman forward show with "Break Free," in glittery knee-high boots and with Zedd. She was followed in quick succession by Nicki Minaj, who unleashed "Anaconda" live for the first time ever, sans actual anaconda. Safe to say, she showed the VMAs' reigning twerker Miley Cyrus how it's done. Grande and her ponytail and Nicki (who appeared not to have had time to zip-up the front of her dress before returning to stage?) and Jessie J combined girl-powers for "Bang Bang."
Newly-minted feminist and MTV VMA veteran, for better (she was the first-ever country star to win a VMA) or worse (you know), performed her brand new single "Shake It Off" live for the first time ever. She reworked that rap/spoken word interlude to include a gag/dig about stunt performances-- like, uh, ones that include snakes and stuff. But vocally, it was a little rough.
Kim Kardashian West's (!) good friend (!!) Sam Smith made his MTV VMAs debut tonight, performing "Stay With Me." Liked what you saw? Read his FADER #92 cover story here.
Usher performed "She Came To Give It To You" with a full backing band and Nicki Minaj, who made her third appearance in fresh white fur.
Iggy Azalea, one of the night's leading nominees, and Rita Ora brought arachnid-vibes with "Black Widow."
Beyoncé relegated the rest of the evenings performers to openers with a typically flawlessshow-closing medley that hits all the high points of her self-titled album.