Sunday's VMAs Just Got Even Better

by S. Atkinson

This just in: your imaginary best friend and dream karaoke partner Rihanna will be opening the 2016 MTV VMAs Sunday with a special performance. In other words: Not only will the legendary singer be receiving the Video Vanguard award for her talents, but she'll also be setting the tone of the show very early on. The news was announced by the singer herself on her Instagram account, where she posted a cryptic video art image of a woman's body morphing from black into leaves and captioned it "Thank you for creating this — in honor of the #VMAs2016 era @pandagunda! #RiRiVanguard." So, what can we expect from Rihanna's 2016 VMAs performance? MTV VMAs executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic told Entertainment Weekly, "everyone will be surprised with what she’s done to make this honor her own and something that’s extremely impactful.”

He went on to stress that the medley will include “the biggest tracks of her career,” as well as music from the latest Rihanna album, Anti , and added “I can tell you it’s going to be one of those holy crap VMA moments. She’s not playing. She’s bringing it.” She'll have to: Rihanna's got a lot of hype to live up to on Sunday, Aug. 28, since she's both nominated in four categories (best female video for "Work," best male video thanks to her vocals on Calvin Harris' "This Is What You Came For," and twice over for those two songs for Best Collaboration) — oh, and she'll be collecting her Video Vanguard Award.

If the medley involves her "bringing it" then I guess that suggests the medley might skate over the well-known songs from Rihanna's discography (think: her 2005 breakout hit, "Pon de Replay," "FourFiveSeconds," "Stay") and go straight for the more attitude-filled hits: the ever-relevant "Umbrella," "Shut Up And Drive," "S&M," "B*tch Better Have My Money," her superhit "Work," as well as the more EDM heavy tracks in her repertoire like "We Found Love," and "Diamonds." I'd speculate also that she might bring a few guests along for the ride: the most obvious contender would be her longtime collaborator Drake, who's starting to seem more and more like her not-so-secret boyfriend because of stuff like this:

Other possible guests could be people she's worked with in the past. So, Calvin Harris, Kanye West, Jay Z, and Future can't be ruled out either.

Additionally, her Instagram post announcing the news may suggest a clue about the aesthetics: The artist she shouts out in the post, Pandagunda, is actually Ashraf Khoffash, a digital artist based in Sweden who specializes in eerily futuristic renditions of beings that are close to human. I can't help but suspect Rihanna will be using Khoffash's visuals in the backdrop to her performance (or else why announce it via Khoffash's work?).

Either way, if Rihanna's leading it you know it's going to be jaw-dropping. So, make sure you tune in to the VMAs on Sunday punctually: you're not going to want to miss out on one of the biggest performances of the year.