VMAs 2023 performances ranked

From Shakira to Doja Cat: Ranking the best performances from the VMAs 2023

Doja Cat doing a medley of three of the best songs of the year? We’re not worthy

Look, I’ll say it. The MTV VMAs are not what they were. This was a show that was the word on everyone’s lips for decades – one where pop culture moments were born. Whilst it’s not quite at the dizzy heights of the past in 2023, that’s not to say that every year there isn’t at least a handful of VMAs performances that knock it out of the park – so here are the best six of the night, ranked.

6. Demi Lovato

I’m not exactly on the hype train for the rock versions of Demi Lovato’s pop smash singles of the 2010s, but watching this performance got me halfway there. It’s great to see her looking so radiant and healthy and in such good voice. If she’s happy I’m happy, and if she’s going to do a medley of her pop bangers all rocky it was gracious of her to do her best three.

5. Nicki Minaj

Amazing live vocals and one of the only rap artists performing live and not to their vocals on a backing track, just have to applaud it. Love this pop rock diversion for Nicki too – BRING ON PINK FRIDAY THE SEQUEL.

4. Olivia Rodrigo

Taking to the 2023 VMAs stage just a few days after your hugely anticipated album comes out is pretty ideal, and I’m getting Olivia Rodrigo ranked as one of the best performances for the quality of the songs alone. Not her best live vocal – especially not for Vampire – but by Get Him Back she’s in her element, a pop punk princess of the finest order.

3. The Hip Hop 50th Anniversary Tribute

An uproarious 10 minute celebration of the genre featuring Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, Nicki Minaj and more – for me, the standout is Nicki, all bursting with attitude and performing like we’re back in 2010, when we all fell in love with her in the first place. Medleys at the VMAs are always a winner in my book.

2. Doja Cat

Doja Cat could say she not only hates her own fans, but hates me and everything I stand for and I would still wow and bow at her performance ability, star quality and consistency in putting out three of the greatest songs of the year. Period. And here we get to enjoy all three of them in a beautifully choreographed and staged medley that sees her thrive. Insanely good.

1. Shakira

People win the Video Vanguard Award for a reason: They win it because they’re an icon. Across 10 minutes, Shakira shows why she’s named as such. An absolutely jaw dropping performance of Latin history. From the English language numbers like She Wolf, Hips Don’t Lie and Whenever, Wherever – to the absolute brilliance of Pique diss track and one of the greatest tunes of 202: the Bizarrap collaboration, it’s all jaw dropping. I don’t care if she sings not a note live – it’s SENSATIONAL. Legend.

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