Rihanna kicked off the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards with a bang.
In honor of being this year’s Video Vanguard Award recipient, the pop superstar opened the show with a medley of hits. Rocking red shades, a Hood By Air shirt, and cut-off crotch pants—and flanked by a sturdy backup crew—she served up a few hits from her expansive catalog including “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Only Girl (In the World),” “We Found Love,” and “Where Have You Been” against a pink and white-lit stage.
The performance earned her a standing ovation from her famous peers including Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, and Kanye West.
For her second performance of the night, RiRi turned Madison Square Garden into a dancehall party. The island vibes started with “Rude Boy” and continued with “What’s My Name,” while a stage full of partygoers got their dance on. She capped it off with her latest chart-topper, “Work.”
After an introduction by actress Tracee Ellis Ross, Ri kicked off her third set with “Needed Me,” holding it down solo at the mic, before teaming up with a bunch of ponytail-clad dancers who surrounded her in a circle. She went full savage with “Pour It Up” and “Bitch Better Have My Money,” growling to the crowd.
For her fourth and final performance of the night, Rihanna showed off her versatility and vocal prowess. Draped in a silky gown, she belted out a trio of ballads, starting with “Stay.” Backed by her band, she transitioned into her 2012 hit “Diamonds,” closing with her latest single, “Love on the Brain.”
As the big moment of the night, Rihanna was honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which was previously given to Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Britney Spears. Drake surprised the crowd by appearing to present her with the prestigious award.
Check out the clips below.
— MTV (@MTV) August 29, 2016
If you missed it, here's Drake giving the most sweetest speech to Rihanna as she accepts her vanguard award https://t.co/nIFtOf9CXw
— Queen Mel (@BLVCKMATTERS) August 29, 2016