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Ed Sheeran, the Weeknd rule the MMVAs, while Drake drops in as a surprise

By Nick Patch


drake mtv

TORONTO _ After weeks of captivating Canada on tour, Ed Sheeran can “x” another accomplishment off his list after a load-bearing hosting performance at Sunday’s Much Music Video Awards.

Sheeran rarely strayed from the stage, ad-libbing raunchy one-liners, verbally sparring with presenters, hauling in two awards _ for best international artist and most buzzworthy international artist _ and performing on two separate occasions, essentially wrapping the evening up in a strummy bow.

Just prior to the show, he vowed he would say whatever he wanted to onstage, and indeed some of his remarks _ like an off-colour joke about presenter Gigi Hadid or a comment to Sarah Hyland about the time his “mate” threw up on her lawn _ seemed convincingly off-the-cuff.

His candour even extended to his acceptance speeches.

“This is my fourth year (and) I’ve never won one _ I feel like it’s just because I’m presenting,” he said while accepting his first award, for best international artist. “So thank you very much for this.”

The Weeknd was the weekend’s big winner, with the downcast crooner continuing his real-life recent winning streak by picking up a leading four awards, including video of the year and most buzzworthy Canadian.

A man of famously few words, the singer born Abel Tesfaye _ who has three Top 15 hits already this year _ was gracious if concise in acceptance.

“I want to thank the fans of course _ XO, wouldn’t be here without you guys,” he said.

On a bright and balmy day in Toronto, lines of fans snaked for several blocks around Much’s downtown headquarters awaiting the performance extravaganza.

Those who queued in the sticky conditions were rewarded with a close-up gander at performers including Florida “Want to Want Me” hitmaker Jason Derulo, resurgent Chicago emo institution Fall Out Boy and newly single, newly solo Disney graduate Nick Jonas, who passionately sang “Chains” in front of a 10-foot high screen, opposite a gyrating dancer.

Still, the biggest roar of the evening was elicited from its biggest unannounced star: a bearded Drake.

The superstar Toronto rapper dropped by when his friend P. Reign won for best hip-hop video (Drake co-directed the video and buoyed the song with a guest verse). Drake only briefly took the mike before ceding the spotlight to his gobsmacked pal.

“Aww, man!” said P. Reign with wonder. “You know what, I just need y’all to know first of all, I never planned this. I had no idea it was going to happen.

“My brother Drizzy Drake is in the building! That’s my brother for life.”

In other performances, a royal blue-clad Carly Rae Jepsen swayed through her swooning “I Really Like You,” Walk Off the Earth performed “Broke” amid a paint-splattered rainbow-hued motif and the Weeknd’s sensual medley of “Mood Music” and “Earned It” reached new levels of steam thanks to towers of pyro.

Sheeran, on the other hand, opted for minimal accompaniment for his first visit to the stage for sentimental recent single “Photograph,” then doubled down on that setup for an electrified but spare “Thinking Out Loud.”

The 24-year-old basked in ear-splitting fondness from the crowd, well-earned after a Canadian tour during which the gentle ginger made headlines by trilling an impromptu duet with a fan in Edmonton and obliging a Saskatoon man who wanted to borrow Sheeran’s stage to propose to his cancer-suffering girlfriend (she said yes).

Sheeran also reminded viewers only familiar with his earnest, hip hop-inflected balladry that he possessed a robust sense of humour. Although the once-chaotic MMVAs have lost some shambolic charm in their evolution into a smoothly orchestrated star showcase, his seemingly unrehearsed banter with presenters restored a necessary feeling of spontaneity.

“They couldn’t afford the Jenners this year so I came back and did it for free,” he said, referring to last year’s socialite co-hosts Kylie and Kendall Jenner, before tugging at his “really tight” suit vest, which he later referred to as a “corset.”

The theme continued as he claimed his second and final MMVA of the night _ for most buzzworthy international act _ from electro-pop songwriter Lights. He was asked whom he wanted to thank.

“Lights, because your name is actually Lights _ it says Lights on your passport!” he said, after first thanking the fans.

“And Much, for letting me present and then giving me awards for letting me present.”


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