The diva closed the awards show with an epic nearly 20-minute performance. Tears streamed down her face as she was joined onstage by her beaming husband and daughter, amid the numerous rumours surrounding her marriage.
Beyoncé sang and danced in a metallic leotard while Blue Ivy and Jay Z watched from their seats at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
As Beyoncé accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, the VMA’s version of a lifetime achievement award, she kissed her daughter and husband Jay Z, who called her the “greatest living entertainer”.
The duo won best collaboration for the hit Drunk In Love.
“I have nothing to say but I am filled with so much gratitude,” she told the cheering crowd as they chanted her name repeatedly.
Her performance easily outdid her competition throughout the night, though Beyoncé lost video of the year, which instead went to Miley Cyrus, who invited a homeless man to accept her award.
It was in sharp contrast to the 2013 VMAs, when Cyrus twerked and danced shockingly onstage.
“Thank y’all, my name is Jesse and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now,” he said, as a teary Cyrus looked on. “I know this because I am one of these people.”
The two-hour show was tamer than past VMAs — the most shocking moment was Nicki Minaj’s rump-shaking during ‘Anaconda and her wardrobe malfunction when she joined Ariana Grande and Jessie J for ‘Bang, Bang’.
Grande kicked off the show with a performance of her hit ‘Break Free’, in a Beyoncé-inspired leotard. The 21-year-old won best pop video for her smash single ‘Problem, but lost best female video to Katy Perry for ‘Dark Horse’.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” a quote by author James Baldwin read on the screen.
Lorde won best rock video for ‘Royals’ and Ed Sheeran won best male video, beating Pharrell, Eminem, John Legend and Sam Smith.
The night also featured a serious social message: Rapper-actor Common held a moment of silence for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a police officer, before he presented the award for best hip-hop video. Later, a 15-second spot aired alluding to the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, urging viewers to take action to eliminate bias.