Lady Gaga has thanked her fans following an impressive night at the MTV Video Music Awards, during which she won five major gongs.
The pop star’s wins included artist, song, cinematography and collaboration of the year, as well as the first MTV Tricon Award, in recognition of her achievements in music, fashion and acting.
On Monday evening, Gaga shared a photo of herself with her prizes, wearing an elaborate face mask, MTV T-shirt and black platform boots.
She told her 43.3 million followers: “This nyc girl is so overwhelmed with all of the love. Thank you for always sticking with me. I love you so much.”
Sunday’s show bore little resemblance to those in previous years, with performances taking place outside and in front of severely-limited audiences across New York City’s five boroughs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the show, the stars walked a socially-distanced red carpet lacking its usual bustle and energy, an early sign that this year’s VMAs would be different to those before it.
The ceremony was dedicated to Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday aged 43 following a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Host Keke Palmer said: “He is a true hero, not just on screen but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”
There was also a tribute to New York’s frontline workers who risked their lives when the city was ravaged by the pandemic while Canadian singer The Weeknd used his acceptance speech for the coveted video of the year award to demand justice in the cases of two African Americans shot by police.
The final words of the evening were “black lives matter”.
Accepting the inaugural Tricon, Gaga said: “I want to share this award with everybody at home tonight. Everybody that is their own form of a Tricon,” before reflecting on a year disrupted by pandemic and social unrest.
“This has not been an easy year for a lot of people, but what I see in the world is a massive triumph of courage,” Gaga, who wore a mask throughout the night, said.
“Just because we’re separated right now and culture may feel less alive in some ways, I know a renaissance is coming and the wrath of pop culture will inspire you and the rage of art will empower you as it responds to hardship with its generosity and love. This is what I believe. I want nothing more than to be your artist in 2020, it’s a total privilege.
“I love you, stay safe, speak your mind and I might sound like a broken record, but wear a mask, it’s a sign of respect.”
Mask wearing has emerged as a contentious issue in parts of the US.
The Black Eyed Peas closed out proceedings, with one of the group saying “Wakanda forever”, the phrase that encapsulated the black pride generated by Black Panther, as well as “black lives matter”.
And ahead of November’s presidential election, which is being billed as the most important for a generation, there was a call for fans to vote.
Despite the heavier than usual tone, the youth-focused VMAs still contained references to some of the biggest pop culture moments of the year, including Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s viral WAP music video and Netflix’s wild documentary series Tiger King.
Best music video from home, one of two new categories brought in to reflect the post-Covid-19 world, was won by Grande and Justin Bieber for Stuck With U while pop titan Taylor Swift won best direction for The Man music video, her hit about industry sexism.
The award was voted for by industry figures, and Swift thanked voters and her fans “because you are the only reason why the industry cares about anything I do”.
Swift, who cancelled all 2020 tour dates, added: “I hope I get to see you soon.”
H.E.R won video for good for I Can’t Breathe while K-pop superstars BTS won best pop for On.
Colombian superstar Maluma performed in Brooklyn, while Miley Cyrus debuted her new single Midnight Sky and referenced her famous Wrecking Ball video, swinging on a disco ball.