vmas 2021

VMA Performances Include Another Lil Nas X Shocker and Olivia Rodrigo’s Debut

Photo-Illustration: Vulture. Photos: Getty Images

The VMAs are practically synonymous with surprising moments. So who will this year’s be courtesy of? Maybe we can count on some of the first performers announced for the MTV show: Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Lorde, Machine Gun Kelly, and Camila Cabello. Lil Nas returns after his 2019 debut performance of “Panini,” leaving us already wondering whether he’ll opt for a confidently sexual performance of “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” or an equally confidently sexual performance of “Industry Baby” this time around. Rodrigo, meanwhile, arrives for her debut on the VMAs stage, after breaking out with hits like “drivers license” and “good 4 u” earlier this year. Both also logged five nominations last week, second only to leaders Justin Bieber and Megan Thee Stallion.

Otherwise, Lorde will bring a world-premiere performance off her upcoming album Solar Power, while reigning Best Alternative winner and current nominee Machine Gun Kelly is set to debut his new single “papercuts” after rocking the 2020 preshow. And Camila Cabello is set to bring her single “Don’t Go Yet” to the stage as well — sans Shawn Mendes this time, as far as we know. It all goes down live at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on September 12, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

VMA Nomination Leaders Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo to Perform