Jennifer Lopez is a lot of things. She’s a style icon, an early aughts rom-com queen, a returning rom-com queen, a TV star, a performer, and now a VMA Video Vanguard award winner. After a little less than 20 years of churning out consistent killer, mind-blowing music videos, the Bronx native was finally honored for all of that hard work at the 2018 Video Music Awards with the institution’s highest honor.
With a single performance during the show, Lopez reminded viewers she has been one of music’s greatest living goddesses — not a queen, but a gold-dipped goddess who demands the appropriate level of worship — since 1999. And with her acceptance speech, the 49-year-old proved she’s not leaving her altar, the stage, any time soon.
Like most Vanguard Award recipients before her, Lopez performed a powerful medley before accepting her lifetime achievement gold. The pop diva opened her portion of the show with a gesture towards to her new millennium roots with the club banger “Waiting For Tonight.” A projection of neon green palm trees flashed on-stage behind her. Obviously, the visual was a nod to J.Lo’s music video for the 1999 track, where she danced in front of a similarly club-y set of fronds. But the image also harkened back to the dress that made Lopez an international household name: the green Versace dress.
That infamous Grammys gown was also covered in green palm fronds.
From that little reference to pop days gone by, Lopez danced through many of her hits. There was an “On The Floor” section where the performer was carried by a flock of buff shirtless men (remember, she’s a goddess), an all-women interlude for “I Ain’t Your Mama,” which still stands as Lopez’s strongest feminist statement, and a full winterscape for “All I Have.”
Things only got more exciting when J.Lo was joined by DJ Khaled and Ja “R-U-L-E” Rule. Kahled’s introduction allowed Lopez to run backstage and jump on a moving 6 train set piece, another reminder of her “Jenny From The Block” Bronx past and her very first studio album, On The 6. The 6 train was, as Lopez has mentioned multiple times, the line she road as a young woman. Ja Rule’s appearance, on the other hand, allowed for everyone to start screaming because, 15 years later, everyone still loves both of his collaborations with Lopez, “Ain’t It Funny” and “I’m Real.”
But, both those men disappeared quickly as Lopez returned to the stage, supported by only backup dancers, to shake her famous “Booty” to the roar of the crowd. The performer’s curves were so revered, if you really pay attention, you’ll see her dancers literally bow down to her behind before the music switches to “Dinero,” the final song of the medley. Because Lopez just wants the money and the cash flow. She is an unstoppable business woman, you see.
We learned in Lopez’s acceptance speech what has driven the former In Living Color fly girl to chase the “Dinero,” along with all the other icons of success she has worked for since breaking out in 1997’s Selena.
“It’s been an incredible journey of dreaming my wildest dreams and then kind of watching them come true,” Lopez said while holding her Vanguard Award. “When people said, ‘You know, you’re doing too much. You can only do one thing,’ I was always a person who was like, ‘Why not?’ So I kind of had to forge my own path and make my own rules.”
While Lopez is still forging her own path, she said growing her family by having twins Max and Emmy Muñiz with ex-husband Marc Anthony, made her even go even “higher.” The “El Anillo” singer told her 10-year-old children, “There’s so much more to do, and I know in my heart that the future is brighter than anything I could have accomplished up 'til now because of you.”
Boyfriend Alex Rodriguez received a similar amount of praise, as Lopez gushed a few minutes later of the retired Yankee, “You make me realize that every day the sky is not the limit. The universe is infinite, and so is what we can accomplish together with love and trust and understanding.”
We should all get ready for another 20 years of Jennifer Lopez.