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Here's how to watch the 2021 VMAs — and what to expect

Doja Cat will host the VMAs live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday, Sept. 12.
2020 American Music Awards - Show
Justin Bieber performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

The MTV VMAs, the most unpredictable and fun night celebrating music, will return Sept. 12, live from Brooklyn, New York.

After a socially distanced show last year that was filmed from several locations around New York City, this year's ceremony will feel a bit more...familiar. The VMAs will be held at the Barclays Center for the first time since 2013.

While we'll have to watch to see what potential pop culture history will be made this year (who could forget Madonna kissing Britney and Christina or Kanye interrupting Taylor?) we do have an idea about what to expect from the craziest night in music.

Where and when can I watch the MTV Video Music Awards?

The big night is Sunday, Sept. 12. Mark your calendars for the pre-show, which begins at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on MTV and livestreamed on MTV's Twitter account, according to a news release. The official show kicks off at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on MTV as well as available to stream on the MTV app, as well as online at and on popular streaming services, including Hulu Live, YouTube, Sling TV and FuboTV.

What are the MTV Video Music Awards?

The MTV Video Music Awards are the music channel's annual awards show honoring excellence in music across a variety of categories that have changed over the years. Last year, the show adapted to the pandemic and handed out their famous moon person trophies in new categories, including "Best Quarantine Performance" and "Best Music Video From Home." Fans have been voting on the gender neutral award categories, which include everything from video of the year to best K-pop performance.

Doja Cat
Doja Cat will host and perform at the VMAs.Jerritt Clark / Getty Images

Who is hosting?

Doja Cat, who is up for five awards this year, will pull double duty as both the host and one of the most hotly anticipated performers of the evening. Last year, actor and musician Keke Palmer had the honors of hosting and performing her single "Snack."

Who is nominated?

It's Justin Bieber's year to shine! The "Yummy" singer is leading the pack with seven nominations. Bieber has a chance to sweep the top categories, which include video of the year, artist of the year and best pop.

Megan Thee Stallion earned six nominations, many for her hit collaboration "WAP" with Cardi B. Billie Eilish, BTS, Drake, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, and host Doja Cat all have five nominations each.

The Foo Fighters will also be honored with the first-ever U.S. global icon award at the VMAs.

Olivia Rodrigo
It will be a big night for nominee Olivia Rodrigo, who will also perform.Getty Images

Who will be performing?

Bieber will take the VMA stage for the first time in six years, but some of the other top nominees will also have their moments in the spotlight.

In addition to host Doja Cat, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Kacey Musgraves, Lil Nas X, Machine Gun Kelly, Olivia Rodrigo, Chloe of Chloe x Halle and Twenty One Pilots will perform throughout the evening.

During the pre-show, fans can expect to see Kim Petras, Swedish House Mafia, Polo G take the stage.

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X will perform at the show.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

What's new at the 2021 VMAs?

The famous moon person trophies have gotten a makeover in honor of MTV's 40th anniversary. Artist Kehinde Wiley reimagined the classic statue with colorful flowers and vines to represent "inclusivity and diversity," according to MTV.

There will also be a special tribute to the victims of 9/11. The show will air one day after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and just miles away from Ground Zero. The VMAs will mark the solemn anniversary by working with the nonprofit 9/11 Day on events that will foster awareness and encourage people to take positive action in their communities as a way to never forget the tragedy.