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Taylor Swift, Cardi B and Missy Elliott bring girl power to MTV Video Music Awards

Missy Elliott poses backstage with her Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award.  Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Los Angeles Aug 27, 2019, 12.15 PM (IST)

Taylor Swift picked up two awards, including video of the year, in a girl-powered start to the MTV Video Music Awards show on Monday, while rapper Cardi B won best hip-hop video and newcomer Lizzo celebrated big women.

Swift opened the show with a rainbow-themed performance of her pro-LGBTQ single 'You Need to Calm Down,' followed by her first live performance of the romantic ballad 'Lover,' the lead single from her new, and already best-selling, album of the same name.

'You Need to Calm Down' brought the country-turned-pop singer one of the top prizes - video of the year - being handed out during Monday`s ceremony. It also took the "video for good" statuette for songs that have raised awareness.

Accepting the video of the year award, Swift said that since the VMAs are chosen by fans: "It means that you want a world where we are all treated equally under the law."

Swift and pop singer Ariana Grande went into the fan-voted ceremony in Newark, New Jersey, with a leading 10 nominations each and also were competing for song of the year, best pop, and video of the year.

Grande, currently on tour in Europe and absent from Monday`s show, is also a contender for the top award - artist of the year - along with Cardi B, 17-year-old alternative pop newcomer Billie Eilish, Halsey, the Jonas Brothers and Shawn Mendes.

Cardi B beat out a male-dominated lineup to win best hip-hop video for 'Money,' and ended a delighted acceptance speech saying: "Thank you, Jesus."

The outspoken rapper was also on hand to present Missy Elliott with this year`s Vanguard Award for career achievement, calling her "a champion for women who want to be doing their own thing." 

Best new artist contender Lizzo, enjoying a breakout year, performed her hits 'Truth Hurts' and 'Good as Hell' in a yellow sequined bodysuit, accompanied by plus-size dancers, in a message for body positivity.

Mendes and Camila Cabello stoked reports they are dating in real life with a steamy live version of their romantic duet "Senorita," which reached No. 1 this week on the Billboard singles charts.

Male winners included Korean boy band BTS, who won for best K-Pop; the recently reunited Jonas Brothers, who paid tribute to their New Jersey roots with a performance from Asbury Park; newcomer Lil Nas; and Mendes. 

Story highlights

Swift opened the show with a rainbow-themed performance of her pro-LGBTQ single 'You Need to Calm Down,' followed by her first live performance of the romantic ballad 'Lover,' the lead single from her new, and already best-selling, album of the same name.