The 2023 VMAs Were a Gift to Millennials
The 2023 MTV VMAs were truly for the millennials. Between *NSYNC’s surprise reunion and Shakira’s career-spanning performance the ceremony on Sept. 12 was full of old-school moments that brought us back to the early aughts. (It helped that all of the stars practically look the same as they did 20 years ago.) The nostalgia revived an award show that’s become a little stale in recent years, so here’s to the talent bookers, who must be millennials themselves.
*NSYNC kicked off the night, presenting the first award of the ceremony to Taylor Swift. Swift’s reaction was all of us – she fangirled as she received the Moon Person from “their golden pop hands” and demanded to know if something bigger was in the works. Appearing between newer performers like Olivia Rodrigo and Doja Cat, subsequent presenters included Ashanti, Nelly and Timbaland, and Mary J. Blige. In honor of their achievement awards, Diddy and Shakira put on show-stopping sets highlighting their music careers, and Fall Out Boy even took the stage later in the evening.
The MTV show was in its heyday in the 2000s, and some of the most talked-about moments in VMAs history took place in that time period. So it only makes sense producers wanted to re-create that Y2K magic with memorable performers and presenters from the era. You might remember Britney Spears‘s iconic snake cameo was in 2001, and the famous Madonna-Britney-Xtina kiss took place exactly two decades ago. Several of the stars are returning to the VMAs for the first time in years and, for some, decades. Now, that’s not to say they aren’t still relevant in 2023, but many did attract immense popularity during the early ’00s.
Watching Shakira dance to “Hips Don’t Lie,” Nelly and Timbaland reunite on stage, and Diddy and Keyshia Cole perform “Last Night” unlocked core middle-school memories. Not to mention, it warmed my heart to see Ashanti commemorating her recent rekindling with Nelly via her clutch, which showcased a sweet throwback photo from their early-aughts romance.
Thanks, MTV, for indulging the millennials. Take a look back at all the nostalgic callbacks at the VMAs ahead.