The 2018 MTV EMAs hit Bilbao, Spain on Sunday, November 4, with host Hailee Steinfeld and a host of international performing artists. Moving on at a fast pace, the show for just over two hours was packed. From abrupt opening of confetti by Marshmello, from Nicki Minaj, here are the 2018 EMA performances ranked.
12. Muse – "Pressure"
It's often the low point of a TV awards program when they cut to a pre-recorded off-site presentation – and that was the case in EMAs when Muse did "Pressure" at San Mames Stadium in a little pre- recorded. While they are dynamos live, the energy level does not seem to gel when you move to a stage outside the awards site.
11. Panic! in the disco – "high hopes"
Sizing the side of the Bilbao Exhibition Center at the beginning of the performance (that stretch was pre-recorded), Brendon Urie sang "High Hopes" during Panic! on the disc's EMA, the hymn's performance for dreamers, though his voice – usually a knockout feature – did not seem to be at the height of his powers.
10. Marshmello with Anne-Marie and Bastille – "Friends" and "Happier"
While Marshmello tickled the ivories (no less than under that bucket helmet), Anne-Marie sang her lovely "Friends" collaboration. After that, the masked DJ walked over to Bastille to knock out their "Happier" rock anthem. Marshmello played percussion at the end, but before that he kind of wandered around while Bastille introduced himself, which was … a choice.
9. Jason DeRulo vs. David Guetta and Nicki Minaj – "Goodbye"
Who knew we could hear Andrea Bocelli through Jason DeRulo's velvety pipes in the EMAs of 2018? Opening with a little operatic "Time to Say Goodbye" before resurfacing in an impressive suit, DeRulo descended a staircase and exhibited a chic footwork during a highly theatrical performance alongside David Guetta for his collaboration "Goodbye" – which naturally brought Nicki Minaj for his verse of fire. There was a lot going on, but not all of them necessarily added up.
8. Jack and Jack – "Ascension"
Jack and Jack made their way through their single "Rise" which suitably saw them rise in the air and spin like P! Nk x 2 in the EMAs. But they managed to put a distinctive touch on the airborne performance trope; the circular stage beneath them glowed like a vortex, so that as they whirled through the air above, they seemed to be traveling through some sort of bluish wormhole. In the end, they joined a circle of fans who helped boost the already energetic performance of the admittedly more daring song.
7. Bebe Rexha – "I'm a mess"
For the most visually ambitious performance of the evening, Bebe Rexha employed about 100 dancers for a performance of "I'm Mess", which took her from a bathtub to the heights of bird-eye crying inspired by Busby Berkeley. She could be singing about being a mess, but the skillfully executed number was anything but.
6. Alessia Cara – "Trust in my loneliness"
Wearing an oversized suit at David Byrne, Alessia Cara released her single "Trust My Lonely," with colorful visuals that exploded around her. Cara is an excellent live vocalist, and she quietly and confidently dominated the stage during the island-flavored track.
5. Rosalía – "Malamente"
Spanish singer Rosalía, accompanied by supporting dancers with visors, brought an impressive visual performance to her home country during the EMAs. If the US public is not yet familiar with it, it's likely to change based on how she owned the stage – not to mention the five Latin Grammy nominations.
4. Hailee Steinfeld – "Back to Life"
It turns out that all this time Bumblebee was not a robot disguised as a car – he has twenty different dancers pretending to be a car. Who knew? Okay, maybe not, but when EMA hostess Hailee Steinfeld played "Back to Life", her next song Transformers spin off Bumblebee, she opened up singing in a car that turned out to be her backup dancers in reflective clothes crouched in the shape of a car. It was a cool visual trick, and his vocals and choreography were impressive everywhere.
3. Janet Jackson – "Made for Now", "Everything for You" and "Rhythm Nation"
Live legend Janet Jackson was in great shape, effortlessly releasing her intense choreography as she sang her great new single "Made for Now" and two cool classics, the 2001 Hot 100-topper "All for You" and number 2-speaking "Rhythm Nation".
2. Halsey – "Without Me"
Halsey was conceptual in the EMA, performing the emotional "Without Me" while chained inside a glass cage. If that was not metaphorical enough, she was soaked in a downpour as she sang her hit 100-pound (so far) Hot 100. It sounded fantastic, and the look was one of the most memorable of the night.
1. Nicki Minaj and Little Mix – "Good Form" and "Woman Like Me"
At this point, Nicki Minaj has made it clear that she is an award-winning star – every time she takes the stage in one of these things, she smokes the competition without sweating her shirt. So it was a wise choice for her to open MTV's EMAs, even if it meant that everyone who followed had to perform in the shadow of the queen. After delivering "Good Form" in good shape when the sparks rained, Little Mix left for her collaboration Nicki "Woman Like Me," marking the first time Minaj and the British quartet performed together.