The 2021 VMAs: Our Editors Pick the Best GIFs & Clips

After last year’s socially distanced show, MTV’s Video Music Awards made a roaring return Sunday night with show-stopping performances and outfits by some of the biggest names in music.

From Normani’s debut performance of “Wild Side” to Madonna’s surprise appearance, this year’s show was an expansive tribute to MTV’s 40-year history and VMA icons, past and present. This year’s show had plenty of new faces too, with several stars making their VMA debuts, such as Olivia Rodrigo, Kacey Musgraves, and Machine Gun Kelly.

This year, GIPHY covered every moment from the 2021 VMAs live via GIFs and Clips on the official Video Music Awards GIPHY channel.

Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite moments from the show.

All the Reactions

At GIPHY, reactions are our bread and butter. So, naturally, some of our team’s favorite moments came from reaction shots, both on-stage and off-stage.

Lil Nas X got a lot of love from our team. This GIF of him in the audience was a favorite: “Lil Nas X was clearly the GIF king of the night! GIFs are made for capturing quick reactions like this!”

Lil Nas X won Video of the Year for his single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” This moment from his acceptance speech was “pure joy,” according to one editor.

Doja Cat was the host of this year’s show, making her the first VMA host to also be nominated for Video of the Year. This Clip from the show was a standout to one editor for her outfit: “There’s something about Doja Cat’s outlandish outfit here really punches it up a few notches!”

Olivia Rodrigo made her VMA debut this year and won Song of the Year for “Driver’s License.” Jennifer Lopez made a surprise appearance to present the award to Rodrigo. As one editor put it, “her reaction to seeing Icon Jennifer Lopez is ALL of us!”

Speaking of JLo, this Clip was also an editor favorite: “Why tell someone you love them when Jennifer Lopez can say it for you? ‘I love you’ is one of the most popular searches on GIPHY, so this Clip is a great addition to our library.”

Clips With a Message

There’s just something about sound that gets a point across, which is why Clips can be a powerful way to convey a message.

On Sunday, several stars used their platform at the VMAs to make statements, both serious and light-hearted.

Billie Eilish received the Video for Good award for “Your Power” and called on people to “protect our young women at all costs.” Here’s what one editor said about the moment:

“Some Clips are reaction-based and humorous, but others capture poignant, important moments in pop culture, and this one during Billie Eilish’s acceptance speech, is just that.”

Billy Porter delivered opening remarks for Lil Nas X’s VMA performance and noted the history being made on-stage. “Children, it’s a new day,” he said. “I am so thankful to have lived long enough to witness it.”

A GIPHY editor commented, “Billy Porter delivers it with so much passion that it created a fantastic Clip. This is definitely one we could see users sharing with their friends.”

And, on a less serious note, David Lee Roth delivered this line, which needs no explanation. As one editor put it:

“Leave it to David Lee Roth to deliver the most memorable line of the whole night! It’s unexpected and bizarre and strange and hilarious — all of which adds up to a perfect Clip in our book!”



GIPHY is all the GIFs. We’re the first and largest GIF search engine where artists, brands, and users alike go to make everyday conversation more entertaining.

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GIPHY is all the GIFs. We’re the first and largest GIF search engine where artists, brands, and users alike go to make everyday conversation more entertaining.