MTV VMAs: Rihanna Delivers Hit After Hit, Drake Professes His Undying Love For Her
By Sophie Schillaci
The Rihanna gifts kept coming at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, as the singer delivered an unprecedented four solo performances throughout the three-hour telecast.
For her first set, RiRi kicked off the VMAs with a rapid-fire medley of some of her biggest hits. The 28-year-old superstar ran through a heavily-choreographed medley of "Don't Stop the Music," "Only Girl (In the World), "We Found Love,” and "Where Have You Been." Dressed head-to-toe in a bubblegum pink ensemble from Hood By Air., along with a bevy of backup dancers, Rihanna kept the focus on her moves as she sang along sparingly. (Listen, we already know all about Rihanna's killer vocal chops. More on that later.)
Bringing the club to the stage about 30 minutes later, the Barbados-born beauty returned for a second set following an introduction from Naomi Campbell. Wearing baggy pants and a furry bustier, Rih launched into "Rude Boy" and then her 2010 Drake collaboration, "What's My Name." With no Drizzy in sight, Rihanna powered through with plenty of booty shaking and sang nearly all of her Anti hit, "Work."
"Where's Drake?" presenter Jordan Peele wondered afterward. "[He] couldn't afford a ticket cause he spent all his money on that billboard?"
Tracee Ellis Ross paid tribute to the singer ahead of her third set, which began with a frequently-bleeped "Needed Me" set against a colorful, psychedelic background. Switching up her look with some baby bangs, Rihanna delivered her sultry "Pour it Up" and powerful "B***h Better Have My Money." By the end, cameras cut to a clearly smitten Kim Kardashian, who was Snapchatting video of herself in the audience, with Rihanna's performance going on in the background.
For her grand finale, Rihanna scored a glowing appreciation from Mary J. Blige and pulled out the big guns: her powerhouse vocals.
Standing on an all-white stage, backed by a full brass band and grand piano, Rihanna held court in a billowing gown held together at her waist by a sparkly belt -- and she saaaaang.
Rih brought down the house with a captivating performance of "Stay," followed by "Diamonds" and "Love on the Brain," appearing adorably emotional by the end.
Of course, Drake couldn't miss an opportunity to profess his love to Rihanna, once again, on a global platform. Even after missing his own chance at an acceptance speech earlier in the night, the rapper made his way up to the stage, dressed to the nines in a black tuxedo and bow-tie, Video Vanguard Moonman in hand.
"The first time I met Robyn Fenty was in 2005," he began, recalling Rih's very first music video shoot for "Pon de Replay" in his native Toronto. "I was introduced to her as the kid who played background music at the restaurant as people ate their dinner."
"She's someone I've been in love with since I was 22 years old," he gushed, prompting big cheers from the audience. "She's one of my best friends in the world. All my adult life, I've looked up to her, even though she's younger than me. She's a living breathing legend in our industry."
Approaching the mic for her own acceptance speech, Rihanna made sure to show plenty of love to her native Barbados.
"When I think about the Vanguard Award and receiving this tonight, all I could think of was my country. They're gonna be so proud. This is the first Vanguard to land anywhere close to my country," she admitted. "It's not my own, it's my family's. It's my fans', it's my country's, it's the Caribbean’s, as a whole. It's women, it's black women. So many people feel like their little piece is such a major part of this puzzle, and I have to thank you guys for supporting me over and over."