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The Best 2023 MTV VMAs Performances, Ranked – Billboard

Written by on 13/09/2023

What soared and what bored.

The 2023 MTV Video Music Awards took over the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday (Sept. 12) night.

The show – which will turn 40 next year – is reliably one of the biggest music events of the year, and the 2023 VMAs held their weight with regards to the MTV staple’s storied past.

First and foremost, iconic boy band *NSYNC — Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick — reunited on stage to present the VMA for best pop, which they handed off to Eras Tour juggernaut Taylor Swift. Swift seemed well chuffed to receive a Moon Person trophy from the pop royals (“to receive this from your golden pop hands is really too much” she noted). Later on, she ended up walking away with the night’s most prestigious award for video of the year, for her self-directed “Anti-Hero.”

But as it tends to go at awards shows these days, performances took the spotlight even more than awards and speeches. And this VMAs had a lot of live music. Two collaborations saw their live TV debut (one from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, the other from TOMORROW X TOGETHER and Anitta), while #HipHop50 was feted once more this year with a legend-stuffed run-through of the genre’s past. Plus, Olivia Rodrigo had a fun fake-out moment; Shakira killed a career-spanning medley; Stray Kids flaunted choreography with laser precision; and Demi Lovato rocked the hell out.

It was a long night filled with a ton of performances – and when you have a nearly four-hour show with well over a dozen sets, some are going to stand out more than others. From our least favorite to our pick for the evening’s best, here are the best 2023 VMAs performances, ranked.

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