When reggaeton star Maluma hits the stage at the VMAs Sunday, it won’t be the way he planned.
“I wanted to get to the performance riding a bull, and they told me that I couldn’t do it because of the coronavirus,” he told The Post. “I wanted to bring, like, 20 dancers, and we couldn’t. I wanted to bring my whole tech team, but I couldn’t. It’s been kind of difficult because I had so many ideas to do in the show. We cannot become too creative, but I understand that these times are difficult.”
As the first major live awards show being staged in the COVID-19 era, MTV’s 2020 edition of the Video Music Awards will set the standard for the future. And details of the production, which will feature performances by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus and more, have been very hush-hush.
Keke Palmer, star of “Hustlers,” will be hosting, and she’s making history as the first woman of color to take the reins of the awards show.
While it is known that the VMAs will happen at various outdoor locations (with no or limited audience) around the city — along with remote performances from Los Angeles and, for K-pop sensations BTS, South Korea — exactly where those locations are is pretty much classified info.
“I’ve never seen it so secretive. People are just so nervous about talking about it,” said Dave Brooks, Billboard Senior Director, Live & Touring. “But you might think, ‘Why put yourself out there more than you have to in case something goes wrong?’”
Indeed, the production has already had to deal with some curveballs. First, there was the move from its original location of Barclays Center due to the coronavirus concerns. Then, last weekend, J Balvin — who earlier this month revealed he had contracted COVID-19 — and rapper Roddy Ricch pulled out as performers.
Maluma arrived in New York earlier this week from his US base of Miami and will be performing with Latin boy band CNCO — reportedly from an undisclosed drive-in location.
You can expect to see Maluma’s dancers and backup performers wearing masks onstage, according to Brooks, with only the main artist — be it a singer or a rapper — exempt from wearing a face covering. But, Brooks added, “There’s less concern about you giving the virus to somebody who’s within your team. There’s more concern about people in your team that could potentially give the virus to somebody else [outside of your team].”
Although VMA performers traveling from places on the city’s quarantine list don’t have to abide by the 14-day restriction, that doesn’t mean they’ll be hitting the town like usual.
“You have to kind of be under quarantine-like restrictions,” said Brooks, “so there’s no going out and sightseeing or to, like, a five-star restaurant. You’re supposed to stay hunkered down in whatever place you’re [staying] at.”
Despite all of the challenges this year, Maluma is still very much happy to be here. “It’s really hard to connect everything, but it is what it is,” he said. “There’s nothing else that we can do at this point. I have enough tools to go and give an amazing performance.”
And all the other upcoming awards shows — from the Emmys and the Grammys to the Oscars — will be watching the VMAs. “Everyone’s gonna be watching to see what they do,” said Brooks. “And I think you have to give MTV credit for taking the risk and being first because everyone else can learn from it. Hopefully everyone will take copious notes.”