If the 2020 VMAs were built for one artist, it was Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — who not only came in with nine nominations and has already won multiple awards, but also just delivered the performance of the night. Because, well, who better than Lady Gaga to see pandemic restrictions and turn them into an opportunity? They don’t call her an MTV Tricon for nothing. (Wait, do they call her that?) Gaga performed a medley of songs off her wonderfully stupid dance-pop album Chromatica, including “911,” “Rain on Me,” and “Stupid Love.” It was her first Video Music Awards performance since 2013, and instantly one for the books.
She performed on an unmistakably Chromatica-era stage, flanked by masked dancers and wearing robotic light-up masks herself — to complement her three separate lewks, of course. That promised Ariana Grande linkup washed our worries away during “Rain on Me,” before Gaga reemerged to belt out a ballad version “Stupid Love,” playing a brain piano, as only she could. She cut the performance for a quick bit of inspiration, telling viewers, “I want you to love yourself tonight and every night. Celebrate yourself. Love who you are. Be kind, mask up, be brave and braver all the time.” Then she shouted, “make it stupid!,” the beat kicked in, and we were wiping our tears away and dancing in our living rooms. Shortly afterward, Lady Gaga was back on stage accepting the Moonperson for artist of the year. She also accepted her Tricon award from Bella Hadid later in the night.