3) It was also a big night for green screens. Without crowds, artists seized the opportunity to seriously blur the lines separating "live performances" from "music videos." What they lost in spontaneity, they gained in production values, from BTS dancing in front of an assortment of wildly different backdrops to Maluma and CNCO each performing at what looked like a neon-lit drive-in theater. Bonus points to rapper DaBaby, who brought in the dance troupe Jabbawockeez to help serve up a bit of visual commentary about police violence.
4) The show appeared to be almost entirely pre-taped. At the very beginning of the show, host Keke Palmer appeared in a lo-res video — it looked as if it was shot on a webcam or cell phone — in which she dedicated the night to the memory of actor Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday. Everything else with Palmer looked a lot slicker, which suggests that the intro was tacked on after the rest of her work was completed. Given the green-screen effects in so many of the performances, there wasn't much here that could really be considered "live."
5) Pre-taped means pre-vetted. The VMAs are typically known for bonkers moments — beefs between performers, Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, that sort of thing. But nothing here could really be engineered to fly off the rails or otherwise surprise, which made for a relatively uneventful evening. The Weeknd gave the night a dose of humanity and gravity by accepting his awards — for Video of the Year and Best R&B — with a plea for "justice for Jacob Blake, justice for Breonna Taylor." But if you were hoping for Kanye West to burst in via hologram and announce that he's a wizard now, it didn't happen.
6) The actual awards were easy to predict. If you wanted to break a tie between, say, Lady Gaga (who performed) and Billie Eilish (who didn't), you didn't have to think very hard. An unforgivably cruel and cynical viewer might be left to wonder whether they'd booked the performers with award winners in mind (or worse). Based on the opaqueness of the VMAs' process, we may never know.
7) BTS was more than an afterthought. For the past few years, the VMAs have made more of a place for BTS than, say, the Grammys. But this was still the K-pop juggernaut's first time actually performing on the VMAs — and the group picked up well-earned trophies for Best Pop, Best Group, Best K-Pop and Best Choreography.
8) About that "Tricon Award"... The VMAs' equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Award began as something called the "Video Vanguard Award" — and, later, the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award." Without fanfare or even explanation, it would appear that the prize has again been renamed, this time as the "Tricon Award," perhaps as a quiet effort to distance the VMAs from controversies surrounding Jackson. If you hear about these VMAs at all in the coming days, this issue might be the reason why.