Where was Billie Eilish? Where was Harry Styles? Where was Megan Thee Stallion?
The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards — held Sunday night in New York as the first major live awards show of the COVID era, with Lady Gaga as the big winner — was missing some of the hottest pop stars of the moment.
Instead, we got the Black Eyed Peas closing the show, giving us a has-been feeling.
While the pandemic no doubt presented unprecedented challenges this year — forcing the awards show to move from Barclays Center to various locations in New York, along with other remote performances — the VMAs has been steadily losing relevance.
When you have someone like Eilish — a teen sensation who, back in the day, would have been all over MTV — opting to sit the big night out for the second year in a row despite being nominated for six awards (including Video of the Year), you know something’s wrong.
But where could you see Eilish performing live a couple of weeks ago? At the Democratic National Convention.
Clearly, the 18-year-old “Bad Guy” singer — who earlier this year also performed at the Grammys, where she swept the night, and the Oscars — just doesn’t want her MTV.
Maybe even more telling is the absence of Styles, who, as the heartthrobiest member of One Direction, has some history with the VMAs going back to 1D’s debut performance in 2012.
Styles, 26, has been on the hottest of streaks as a solo artist, with two top 10 hits from his “Fine Line” album. But while “Watermelon Sugar,” his first solo No. 1 single, was nominated for Song of the Summer, its touchy-feely video failed to receive any other nods — a snub that angered his legion of fans.
But frankly, the awards show needed Styles a lot more than Styles needed it.
Same goes for Megan Thee Stallion, 25, who, despite being nominated for four VMAs, skipped the show. This, after she performed at the BET Awards in June. MTV should have offered the “WAP” rapper the world to appear.
But this isn’t the first year that the VMAs has had so many notable names MIA. In 2018, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Drake, Bruno Mars and Childish Gambino were all up for Video of the Year. None of them bothered to show up.
And when 23-year-old Camila Cabello — who did show up — ended up winning Video of the Year in 2018 for her “Havana” clip over Childish Gambino’s brilliant “This Is America,” it was so laughable that it practically rendered the award meaningless.
It was almost as ridiculous as the irony that MTV doesn’t even play any music anymore — and hasn’t really for years now. How can the network honor music video excellence when it doesn’t even play them?
At this point, the YouTube Music Awards, which were held in 2013 and 2015, would make a lot more sense as a replacement for the VMAs.