Showstopper Beyonce strikes 8 times
BEYONCE on Sunday dominated the MTV Video Music Awards as she won a near-record haul.
She won Video Of The Year for Formation, the most controversial work of her career, as she took home eight of the 11 prizes for which she was nominated.
Formation, the first single off her intertwined film and album Lemonade, was shot in New Orleans and inspired by the city's Creole culture, hip-hop scene and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Beyonce stole the spotlight at New York's Madison Square Garden by performing for over 16 minutes songs from Lemonade, managing even to change outfits in a set that culminated in the stage erupting in fire.
In one striking moment, a series of gunshots rang out as her dancers dropped to the ground in a red fog.
Beyonce invited to the show, broadcast to more than 120 countries, the mothers of four young African-American men whose deaths have galvanised the United States.
Singer Alicia Keys offered another of the night's powerful moments as she recited a poem inspired by civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
In a year marred by global conflict and a bitter United States presidential race, she said: "If war is holy and sex is obscene, then we got it twisted in this lucid dream.
"Maybe we can love somebody / instead of polishing the bombs of holy war."
At eight awards, Beyonce tied Lady Gaga and Norway's a-ha - a sensation in MTV's early years - for the second-biggest win in a single night.
In one of the night's most anticipated moments, rap superstar Kanye West delivered a speech about empowerment.
As the audience chanted his stage-name Yeezy, he likened his creative talents to those of Apple founder Steve Jobs and entertainment pioneer Walt Disney.
He said unnamed wealthy white people had warned him not to make the comparison.
He presented a racy new video for his song Fade, featuring actress and singer Teyana Taylor, who moved her body sensually in a gym before a steamy shower scene.
The video marked a theme in the evening, if accidental, of sexualised exercise.
Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj received roars of crowd approval for a sensual take on a workout, with the pop singer and rapper dancing on a stage transformed into a gym full of highly physical young men.
Drake presented the Video Vanguard Award - named after Michael Jackson - to Rihanna, in recognition of her contributions to pop culture.
He gushed that she was "someone I've been in love with since I was 22".
The 28-year-old Rihanna put on four medleys of her songs throughout the show and pledged never to forget her native Barbados.