For the centerpiece of the evening’s entertainment, Jimmy Fallon introduced Justin Timberlake, the recipient of the evening’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. Timberlake danced his way into the Barclay’s Center to “Take Back The Night” before running through a medley of his hits.
And yes, it happened: the highpoint for all children of the ’90s was when Timberlake’s *NSYNC bandmates, J.C. Chasez, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone, joined him on stage for an abbreviated performance of their hits “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye.” The boy band last played the VMAs with Michael Jackson back in 2001 and the audience was thrilled to see them again.
Cinematography highlight: Mid-performance, the camera cut to fellow boy band One Direction, as if suggesting they take some pointers from their elders. The set ended with the entire Barclays Center clapping along to “Mirrors” with clips of Rihanna, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Will Smith singing along to the chart-topping hit. While the Video Vanguard Award is usually reserved for musicians past their prime, Timberlake also snagged the Best Video VMA for “Mirrors,” which he said was a tribute to his grandparents.