How The Heck Are The 2020 VMAs Actually Going To Work?

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.
The awards show must go on — even during a pandemic. The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards are still happening despite COVID-19, but it will look a bit different than the VMAs of years past.
The show is still airing live on Sunday, August 30 from New York City, the former epicenter of the coronavirus, which has seen its infection rate drop to .66 percent, the lowest since the start of the pandemic. Instead of taking place inside Brooklyn's Barclays Center as originally announced, it'll now follow the lead of the socially distant BET Awards and be a mostly virtual event. However, unlike that show, the VMAs will feature live performances shot on location across New York City under the guidance of the city's political and health officials.
In a statement, the network said that "among the measures all parties involved have aligned on include extensive social distancing procedures, meaningful capacity limitations, and the virtualization of components where possible." This means the Moonman will still be handed out, just not in front of an audience. There will still be star-studded performances, but due to social distancing guidelines, they will be tweaked to appropriately follow New York state's social distancing guidelines.
As the first awards show to take place in New York since the start of the pandemic in March, there is no prototype for what it will look like, which means it's hard to predict what the heck will happen at the VMAs. In some ways, it's fitting that an awards show known for unpredictability will be taking one giant leap for live awards show kind.
While there are still many questions about the 2020 VMAs that can't be answered just yet, here are the ones that could.

Where are the VMAs this year?

After heading to New Jersey in 2019, this year's broadcast is back in the Big Apple, baby. The show was originally set to take place at the Barclays Center for the first time since 2013, only to be scrapped earlier this month after it "became clear at this time that outdoor performances with limited or no audience would be more feasible and safer than an indoor event," according to a statement from MTV.
The network stated that the show will now "pay homage to the incredible resiliency of New York with several outdoor performances around the city with limited or no audience, adhering to all state and city guidelines."
No surprise, MTV isn't sharing any intel on the VMAs locations, which will span all five boroughs — Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, and Manhattan. My two cents? If Lady Gaga isn't performing in front of Lady Liberty, then this was all for naught.  

Who's hosting the 2020 VMAs?

Everyone's favorite Hustler Keke Palmer will emcee this year's unprecedented festivities. In a statement, Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming and events for ViacomCBS Media Networks, made it clear she was up for the job calling her “an energetic force and a quadruple threat with unmatched comedic wit who will make this year’s show truly unforgettable."
Palmer told Billboard that in preparation for the gig she looked to past hosts like Kevin Hart, but admits the obstacles of this year are way different than any before. "The hoops that we're jumping through in order to make this happen," she said, admitting she's taken "over 10 COVID tests" and that all the rehearsals were over Zoom. They want the show to be good, but more importantly, she says, "we're making sure everybody stays safe."

Will there be a red carpet?

No, but there will be a pre-show hosted by Nessa Diab and Jamila Mustafa that kicks off at 6:30 pm ET/PT exclusively on MTV. The 90-minute event will include "performances, celebrity interviews, and coast-to-coast coverage of your faves," according to MTV.
Chloe x Halle will perform on the pre-show, as well as Jack Harlow, Lewis Capaldi, Tate McRae, and Machine Gun Kelly featuring Travis Barker and blackbear.

Who is performing at the 2020 VMAs?

Lady Gaga will return to the VMAs stage for the first time in seven years with Ariana Grande for the world-premiere performance of "Rain On Me." K-pop group BTS will make their VMAs debut with new single "Dynamite." Adding to the firsts is Miley Cyrus who will perform her new single "Midnight Sky" live for the first time. Rounding out the list of the night's performers are Doja Cat, Da Baby, The Weeknd, Maluma, CNCO, and Black Eyed Peas, who are performing on the VMAs' main stage for the first time ever. Seriously, where was the love for the Peas?
Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage.
Earlier this week, previously announced performers J Balvin and Roddy Ricch both pulled out of the socially distanced show. On his Instagram Story, Ricch explained, "My team and I did everything in our power to make this work, due to COVID compliance issues at the last minute we had to call off the performance. My team and I are safe and everyone's health is a main priority, as well as giving a quality performance. I appreciate MTV for the opportunity to perform and I hope I can see ya'll next year."
Balvin has not yet said why he is not performing, but earlier this month revealed he was "just getting better from COVID-19."

Who this year's VMAs presenters?

This year's presenters include Bella Hadid, Drew Barrymore, Jaden Smith, The Kissing Booth 2 star Joey King, and Kelly Clarkson. Machine Gun Kelly, Madison Beer, Nicole Richie, Sofia Carson, Travis Barker, Bebe Rexha, and In The Heights star Anthony Ramos will also help hand out the night's Moonmen.

Who is nominated for 2020 VMAs?

The nominees for this year's VMAs include Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, who lead the pack with nine each. Billie Eilish and The Weeknd follow close behind with six nominations apiece. Other nominees include Megan thee Stallion, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, who is up for five awards.
Fun fact: this year's awards marks only the second time in VMA history that three women were nominated for Best Direction. The nominees are Taylor Swift for "The Man," Billie Eilish for "xanny," and Hannah Lux Davis for Doja Cat’s “Say So.” It's the first time in which none of the female directors nominated had a male co-director.
This year's 15 gender-neutral categories also include two new categories celebrating artists and their WFH setups. Best Music Video From Home includes Drake's "Toosie Slide," John Legend's "Bigger Love," 5 Seconds Of Summer "Wildflower," blink-182 "Happy Days," Twenty One Pilots "Level of Concern." Chloe x Halle, CNCO, DJ D-Nice, John Legend, Lady Gaga, and Post Malone all earned nominations for Best Quarantine Performance.
The 2020 show will also celebrate the musical performances of COVID-19 first responders with the "Everyday Heroes: Frontline Medical Workers" award.

How do I watch the 2020 VMAs?

The show will air live on MTV and will also be streamed on or the network's app. For those who don't have cable, the show will also be available on live TV subscription services including Hulu and YouTube.

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