Normani's Incredible 2021 VMA Performance Proves She's the Next Pop Star to Watch

Her performance of "Wild Side" was a direct nod to Janet Jackson.

Few award shows have a reputation like the MTV Video Music Awards. Sure, the Academy Awards have the prestige factor and the Golden Globes are infamous for being one of the few functions that serves booze, but few can compare to the amount of sheer iconic pop-culture, history-making moments that have come out of the VMAs. There’s Britney and the python, the Britney-Madonna-Xtina kiss, Lady Gaga’s meat dress, Miley Cyrus’ 2013 twerkathon, and countless other jaw-dropping performances that have caused a frenzy on and offline.

Given the award show’s reputation, it can seem like each year a handful of acts compete to have the breakout moment of the night. But at this year’s show-which went down live and in person on September 12 in NYC and saw performances from Doja Cat (who also hosted), recent breakouts Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber, and others-the best, most stand-out act was Normani, whose performance was simply classic.The pop/R&B singer who originated in the pop group Fifth Harmony before going solo took to the stage to perform “Wild Side,” the lead single off her upcoming debut album. The sultry slow jam is her first solo follow-up to the 2019 mega-hit “Motivation,” and she made a point to not only highlight the song’s sexy, sleek quality, but her command as a dancer, appearing just with a troupe of backup dancers against a white backdrop. Although the song sounds resonant of the late R&B singer Aaliyah, she was absolutely channeling Janet Jackson. And not just in her choreography: At the end of the song, singer/model Teyana Taylor came out strapped to a BDSM-style cross and Normani gave her a lap dance, which is straight from the Jackson tour playbook. Now that’s a VMAs moment that’s unforgettable!

Normani’s performance actually almost didn’t happen. The singer wasn’t originally scheduled to appear, but a fan-driven petition on social media convinced MTV to give her stage time just a few days before the event. It absolutely would’ve been criminal not to let her perform, considering her set was the most stunning of the night. It may have taken some time to get another release from Normani, but it seems as though that’s just because she’s confident in what’s to come, and fans should be, too. By the looks of her star power and stage presence, there’s many more top-tier VMAs performances where “Wild Side” came from.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Sadie Bell is the entertainment associate editor at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter at @mssadiebell.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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