Harry Styles apologized to fans for his absence from the 2022 MTV VMAs, despite being “just down the road” when he became the night’s first major British winner.
The 28-year-old superstar was named album of the year at the annual ceremony that coincided with his performance at Madison Square Garden in New York.
This year’s VMAs are less than an hour away at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Styles’ win followed that of pop sensation Taylor Swift, who won Best Long Form Video for All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).
The video, starring Stranger Things star Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien, went viral earlier this year after fans speculated the song was based on Swift’s split from actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
The venue exploded when Swift took the stage and thanked young stars Sink and O’Brien, adding that the production team “put their hearts and souls” into the video.
“Before that, I directed and wrote my own music videos, but I had never made a short film,” she told the screaming audience.
“We put our heart and soul into this project to create something worthy of the love you have shown to fans.
“Thank you for that nice hint that we did something right, love you guys.”
All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) is also nominated for coveted Video of the Year at this year’s VMAs.
The show opened with a surprise performance by music superstar Fergie, who sang her hits “Glamourous” and “First Class” with Jack Harlow.
The former Black Eyed Peas singer wore a sparkling silver top that read ‘premium’ in red letters while other music legends, including Swift, looked on from the audience.
Shortly thereafter, Harlow was presented with the night’s first prize for Best Collaboration alongside Lil Nas X for their track “Industry Baby.”
Alongside hip-hop stars Nicki Minaj and LL Cool J, he hosts the show, which celebrates the best music videos with coveted “Moonman” astronaut trophies.
Minaj, winner of the Video Avantgarde Award, performed an explosive medley of her songs during her performance.
The US rapper said she’s “never written a speech in her life,” but walked offstage to retrieve her phone and read her notes as she accepted the award from members of her fan club, Barbz.
Later, the global icon was presented to the Red Hot Chili Peppers by US comedy stoner duo Cheech and Chong.
The band’s bassist, Flea, dedicated the band’s award to the late Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins.
“There’s another music legend, and his name is Taylor Hawkins … I miss him every day,” he told the audience.
“Fly on, brother.”
The show was interspersed with odd performances by Johnny Depp, who was projected onto the screen as the ceremony’s famous Moon Man.
As he hovered over the stage, he was heard saying, “I needed the work,” as the ceremony opened.