SEVILLE, SPAIN — Women ruled the roost at the 2019 MTV EMAs, where standout performances by Dua Lipa, Halsey and Rosalía were among the highlights of a colorful and entertaining show that reflected the rich musical culture of host city, Seville.
Dua Lipa opened proceedings with her disco-flavored new single “Don’t Start Now” — the first release from the singer’s forthcoming sophomore album — accompanied by dozens of female dancers all dressed in yellow.
Spain-born star Rosalía also wowed the largely teenage, largely screaming crowd with a bass-heavy rendition of “Di Mi Nombre” that saw her joined by 52 flamenco dancers atop a towering pyramid of carefully stacked red chairs.
Earlier in the evening, the 27-year-old singer collected the award for best collaboration for “Con Altura,” which features Colombian reggaeton singer and rapper J Balvin and Spanish producer El Guincho.
“Thank you so much,” she said accepting the gong. “I’m so grateful and feel so lucky that I can make music for people I consider as my family and as my friends.”
Sadly, many of the night’s big prize winners were not present at Seville’s FIBES Conference and Exhibition Centre with Shawn Mendes (best artist), Taylor Swift (best video for “ME!” and best US act), Nicki Minaj (best hip-hop), Martin Garrix (best electronic) and Billie Eilish (best song for “bad guy” and best new) all accepting their awards via pre-recorded video message.
Also absent was Ariana Grande, who led the nominations going into the night, but failed to win in any of her seven categories, including best pop, which went to a visibly moved Halsey.
“I feel so lucky to be making pop music at a time when pop music is so special, where so many of the genres are blending together,” said the singer, collecting the award from Nicole Scherzinger.
Halsey later triumphed in the best look category and followed her memorable turn at last year’s EMAs with another stirring live performance, this time an energetic rendition of “Graveyard” that culminated in her regular Sunday routine of igniting a carousel horse in flames (as you do).
Hosting the event was Becky G, illustrating her cross-cultural youth appeal with two of the night’s most enjoyable musical performances. The first saw her team up with Akon for a electrifying run through their reggaeton hit “Como No” atop a procession of gliding carnival floats and troupe of marching steel drummers. The second was a high-energy medley of her hits “24/7,” “Sin Pijama” and “Mayores.”
Other notable performances included Niall Horan singing “Nice to Meet Ya” surrounded by a dazzling cascade of light and Malaga-born Mabel making her EMA debut performing “Don’t Call Me Up” astride a huge purple phone.
Ava Max also impressed in her first EMAs appearance, segueing from “Torn” into a larynx-shredding “Sweet But Psycho” accompanied by an all-female orchestra and collecting the best push award.
Meanwhile, Seoul-based NCT 127 made history as the first ever K-Pop group to perform on the global MTV stage, generating some of the loudest screams of the evening for “Highway to Heaven.”
TV viewers and audience members were additionally shown two songs (“Father of All…” and “Basket Case”) from Green Day’s MTV World Stage concert, filmed the previous night at Seville’s Plaza de España. The veteran punk act won the award for best rock in return for their efforts with frontman Billie Joe Armstrong dedicating the award to California punk act SWMRS, which features his son, Joey Armstrong, and whose singer, Max Becker, was recently hospitalized following a car crash that also saw two touring crew members injured.
Closing the show was another rock act with songs older than the vast majority of the audience, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, drawn to Seville by the specially created rock icon honor.
“I want to congratulate MTV for reorganizing my brilliance,” said the cagoule-wearing singer with characteristic modesty before bringing the curtain down on the show with a rousing version of his Lennon-esque solo single “Once” and Oasis classic “Wonderwall,” which the Seville crowd transformed into a celebratory mass singalong.
The full list of 2019 MTV EMA winners is:
Taylor Swift – “ME!” ft. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco
Billie Eilish – “bad guy”
Rosalía, J Balvin – “Con Altura ft. El Guincho”
BEST WORLD STAGE
Muse – Bilbao, Spain 2018
BEST US ACT
BEST UK ACT
EMA GENERATION CHANGE HONOREES
Alfredo “Danger” Martinez, 33, Mexico
Shiden Tekle, 20, UK
Lisa RanRan Hu, 20, China
Kelvin Doe, 22, Sierra Leone
Jamie Margolin, 17, USA
2019 MTV EMA LOCAL ACT WINNERS
Best African Act -Burna Boy
Best Australian Act -Ruel
Best Belgian Act- MATTN
Best Brasilian Act – Pabllo Vittar
Best Canadian Act -Johnny Orlando
Best Caribbean Act -Anuel AA
Best Danish Act – Nicklas Sah
Best Dutch Act -Snelle
Best Finnish Act – JVG
Best French Act -Kendji Girac
Best German Act – Juju
Best Greater China Act -Shen Zhou
Best Hungarian Act -Király Viktor
Best India Act – Emiway Bantai
Best Italian Act -Mahmood
Best Japan Act – King Gnu
Best Korean Act -ATEEZ
Best Lat Am Central Act – Sebastián Yatra
Best Lat Am North Act – Mon Laferte
Best Lat Am South Act – J MENA
Best New Zealand Act – JessB
Best Norwegian Act – Sigrid
Best Polish Act – Roksana Węgiel
Best Portuguese Act – Fernando Daniel
Best MTV Russia Act – Maruv
Best Southeast Asia Act – Jasmine Sokko
Best Spanish Act – Lola Índigo
Best Swedish Act – Avicii
Best Swiss Act – Loredana
Best UK & Ireland Act – Little Mix
Best US Act -Taylor Swift