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3 Times Beyoncé’s Impact Was on Display at the VMAs

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The VMAs this year was peppered with loads of stand-out highlights: Doja being the hostess with the mostest, dazzling performances from stars like Normani, iconic red carpet outfits and… Beyoncé!

From Lil Nas X’s pink and white drumline-inspired performance of “Industry Baby” to Olivia Rodrigo downright smashing the camera at the end of her performance of “Good 4 U”, Beyoncé’s presence was felt despite her not even being there. While we all know Queen Bey has taken a step back from award shows, including the VMAs ever since her historic 2017 Grammy snub, her impact was certainly alive and well on Sunday.

Lil Nas X ft. Jack Harlow – “Industry Baby” and “Montero”
Lil Nas X GIF by 2021 MTV Video Music Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

While Lil Nas X has cemented his status as an artist whose live performances are never short of eccentric charm, he opened his performance of hit song “Industry Baby” with a pink and white uniform-clad drumline. The glamor of it all felt reminiscent of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance in 2016 where she brought out an entire marching band complete with her backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers. In an extravagant display of overflowing confidence, Lil Nas X shed his hot pink uniform top as his backup dancers broke into a synchronized choreographed number. We can all thank Beyoncé for normalizing the act of bringing marching band elements to the stage, and we can applaud Lil Nas X for executing it perfectly.

Super Bowl Beyonce GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Olivia Rodrigo – “Good 4 U”
Break Olivia Rodrigo GIF by 2021 MTV Video Music Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hit pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo is no stranger to the stage — she made her debut on Disney before her fame skyrocketed seemingly overnight. After an explosive choreographed performance of “Good 4 U,” Rodrigo leans into the camera with an intense gaze then slams the end of her microphone into it, shattering the glass and leaving the audience with a view of the busted lens. It created flourish and impact, and it was done first by Beyoncé in 2016 on that same VMAs stage. When Beyoncé performed a medley of her then-brand new album Lemonade, she ended her performance of “Hold Up” by smashing her bat — lovingly nicknamed Hot Sauce —into the camera, sending it spiraling. The act represented everything the song was about: rage, betrayal and all the untethered emotions that come with being cheated on. Rodrigo did this justice in her own right, but Beyoncé’s initial performance still lives on in the swing of her bat.

Chlöe (of Chloe x Halle) – “Have Mercy”
Performance Performing GIF by 2021 MTV Video Music Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

Chlöe made her highly anticipated debut only two days before the VMAs, but she still set the stage on fire with her new single “Have Mercy” all the same. As she broke into a powerful performance complete with sultry choreography and plenty of sass, Beyoncé’s influence as her mentor was plain to see. Dynamic arm and leg movements, hair flipping, and — you guessed it — twerking while maintaining stable vocals immediately made it clear that she is Queen Bey’s protégé. Even her hot pink leotard with fishnets and chunky pink heeled boots felt reminiscent of Beyoncé’s infamous bodysuit and heeled bootie combos.

In short, the newest generation of pop stars that we all know and love are creative and talented in their own right, but Beyoncé’s legacy that persists ’til this day is very much alive and well — and we are grateful.

I am a longtime writer with a passion for storytelling and narratives. Lifestyle writing is my specialty but I can do it all!
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