The 2021 MTV EMA awards were held Sunday, November 14th in Budapest, Hungary. Broadcast live in over 140 countries the annual event was held at the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna .
Rapper Saweetie hosted the awards which saw the LGBTQ community honored and represented throughout the show. German singer/songwriter Kim Petras made history as the first trans artist to perform at the EMAs. In a change from years past according to Billboard,
“For the first time, the MTV EMA Generation Change Award winners were recognized during the EMAs main show. This year’s honorees are five young people who are fighting anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore honored the recipients in a taped piece where she spoke about equality.”
Both BTS and Ed Sheeran took home multiple awards. BTS won four – best pop, best K-Pop, best group, and biggest fans. Sheeran, who opened the show with “Overpass Graffiti,” won two of the biggest awards of the night – Best Artist and Best Song, for “Bad Habits.” The superstar performed again later on in the show singing “Shivers.”
Other artists who did double duty Sunday night performing at the show and winning awards were Colombian pop star Maluma, the Italian rock band Måneskin and YUNGBLUD, who closed the show with a performance of the single “fleabag,” complete with pyrotechnics.
Canadian icon Justin Beiber and Kid LAROI both went home empty-handed after leading the nominations with eight and five respectively. Host Saweetie had a huge night, hosting the show with ELEVEN! outfit changes. The Tap In rapper beat out Olivia Rodrigo to win Best New and also performed a medley of her hits.
Reuters reported that MTV went forward with the event, the first since the Covid-19 pandemic “to show solidarity with Hungary’s LGBTQ+ community following a June law banning the display and promotion of homosexuality among under-18s.” MTV Entertainment Group Worldwide President and Chief Executive Chris McCarthy said, in a memo to staff,
“The decision was very clear to all of us. We should not move the event. Instead, we should move forward, using the show as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary and around the world as we continue to fight for equality for all.”
Other highlights of the show include Lil Nas X taking home the best video award and Taylor Swift taking home the Best American act award. Alternative rock groups Imagine Dragons and OneRepublic also performed at the event.