Hosted by the ‘Icy Girl’ rapper – Saweetie, the 2021 Europe Music Awards were held in Budapest today. It was a celebration of the year’s biggest musical artists as well as a statement of support for LGBTQ people in the event’s host country – Hungary.
The show at the Papp Laszlo Sportarena in Budapest marks the first time that the country hosted the awards show. It aired live on MTV in 180 countries, featuring performances by some of the world’s most popular artists. Some of the LGBTQ musicians at this year’s MTV Europe Music Awards spoke out on the stage against policies in Hungary that are widely seen as curtailing LGBTQ rights.
The ‘Peaches’ hitmaker Justin Bieber led the pack with eight nominations at the 2021 MTV EMA, but it was Ed Sheeran took home big wins as his song ‘Bad Habits’ earned him the awards for ‘Best Artist’ and ‘Best Song’ while Lil Nas X, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, Maluma and Saweetie herself also enjoyed the taste of victory during the electrifying MTV Europe Music Awards.
It was the South Korean septet BTS who had the best night overall. They won a total of four wins in categories including ‘Best Pop’, ‘Best K-Pop’, ‘Best Group’ and ‘Biggest Fans’.
We take a look at some of the greatest performances and memorable moments from the 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards –
Ed Sheeran Opened the Night With a Performance of ‘Overpass Graffiti’
Ed Sheeran opened the night at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2021 by performing his latest single, “Overpass Graffiti,” at the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna. The English singer-songwriter later explained on the red carpet that the outfit he wore for his first EMA appearance and performance was inspired by his new song. The singer performed the first track ”Overpass Graffiti’ against a futuristic backdrop with a guitar in his hands.
Sheeran performed along with his band. He later returned after an outfit change. His second performance of the night was ‘Shivers’ and both the versions of the new tracks sounded a little different than usual.
The Show’s Host, Saweetie Performs a Medley of Her Songs After Descending Onto the Stage Riding a Giant Snowflake
The ‘Icy Girl’ rapper and the show’s host – Saweetie descended onto the 2021 MTV EMA stage by riding a giant snowflake to perform a medley of her songs starting with ‘Tap In’ then ‘Best Friend’. She performed alongside her dancers, The Icy Girls. The rapper who donned a bejeweled catsuit concluded the medley with ‘Out Out’. Her red ponytail and crystal boots stood out. Saweetie completed the look with a crystalized microphone for her stunning performance!
She also spoke out on the need to show “respect for the LGBTQ community.” The American rapper presented Sheeran with the award for ‘Best Artist’ and she won the ‘Best New’ award.
BTS Dominate the 2021 MTV EMA with the most wins
The global superstar BTS took home four MTV Europe Music Awards today making them the most awarded artists at this year’s event and only one of the two names to snatch more than one win. The group won all the awards they were nominated for – ‘Best Group’, ‘Best Pop’, ‘Biggest Fans’, and ‘Best K-Pop’. The only other act to win more than one trophy except for the septet at the 2021 MTV EMA was Ed Sheeran. He snagged the ‘Best Artist’ and ‘Best Song’ awards.
Kim Petras became the first transgender artist in the awards’ history to perform at the show
Petras emerges from a giant coconut on stage for her ‘Coconuts’ performance. The stage was transformed into a tropical-inspired jungle gym for the same. Kim sang “My coconuts, you can put ’em in your mouth,” on the track. Then, the singer transitioned the performance into Hit It From The Back. This is an even sexier bop and she nails the performance as she grinds on dancers while performing it.
As per Paper Magazine, “Petras’ provocative live show was intentional, putting forth a sex-positive performance from a transgender artist in a country where queerness is wrongly conflated with pedophilia. Budapest, Hungary recently passed anti-LGBTQ legislation banning the legal recognition of trans citizens, outlawing gender transition and gay adoption, and prohibiting content to minors that showcases homosexuality or gender change.”
“I believe in freedom of expression and I don’t believe in censorship doing anything good for people, so I’m just really excited that MTV is taking a stand against censorship and putting diversity into the show,” Petras said of the EMAs, according to Paper Magazine. “Music is such a powerful thing because it’s supposed to break barriers and it doesn’t matter in music what gender you are, or what sexuality or what skin color you have — music is a very universal thing.”
The Washington Post reported that earlier this month, Kim Petras expressed support for MTV’s decision to hold the awards in Hungary, which she said she hoped would inspire the local LGBTQ community to “not give up on themselves.” “I’m transgender and performing at the EMAs,” Petras said. “It’s going to be pretty powerful to be in Hungary and perform the show when these laws have just happened.”
EMAs recognized the winners of the ‘Generation Change Award’
During the show this year, the Europe Music Awards recognized the winners of the ‘Generation Change Award’. This is a new category that honored five activists fighting against anti-LGBTQ policies all around the world.
Actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore honored the winners through a video message, saying they are doing “incredible things for the LGBTQ+ community.” “I am proud to help elevate these young voices. They are all gravely asking to love who they want and to love who they are,” Barrymore said.
The winners were LGBTQ activists from Iraq, Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, and Hungary and Hungarian activist Viktoria Radvanyi, an organizer with Budapest Pride accepted the ‘Generation Change Award’ in person at the show, according to the Washington Post.
Radvanyi dedicated the award to Hungary’s LGBTQ community. Viktoria urged them to “get out and vote together” in Hungarian elections scheduled for April. Hungary’s right-wing governing party faces its most serious challenge in these elections since it took power in 2010.
“Never accept the notion that you should tolerate violence and discrimination,” Radvanyi said. “Every single human being is born equal, period … Let’s not let them force us back to the closet.”
First-time EMA performers Måneskin took the stage to perform ‘MAMMAMIA’Måneskin, the rock band that took home the award for ‘Best Rock’ thanked fans and supporters in their acceptance speech, and Lead singer Damiano David had a total mic-drop moment. He said that “we also wanna say that people usually told us we are not gonna make it with our music, well, I guess you were wrong.”
Following their iconic win, the Italian rock band took the stage amid flying sparks and treated the audience to a flashy rendition of ‘Mammamia’. They completed it with a giant glowing neon sign that beamed the name of their song “MAMMAMIA” in the background and some impressive pyrotechnics.
YUNGBLUD closed the night with his latest single ‘fleabag’
YUNGBUD snagged the ‘Best Alternative’ award at this year’s show and said: “If you are out there and you feel you cannot be who you are – you can be. Keep fighting, keep being brilliant,” while accepting it. He also closed the show with his latest single ‘fleabag’ as columns of fire erupted during the performance. All that was left on stage when he made an exit was a smashed guitar and overturned amplifiers.