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New York City Feels A Bit More Alive, As MTV Video Music Awards Return To Barclays Center

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It was a star-studded Sunday night in Brooklyn, with MTV's 38th annual Video Music Awards at Barclays Center.

The show was back in Brooklyn for the first time in eight years and CBS2's Ali Bauman had a front-row seat to the stars on the red carpet.

Madonna kicked off this year's VMAs, which was hosted by singer Doja Cat.

Outside Barclays Center, fans waited hours and hours for a glimpse of their favorite stars.

"COVID, I think, was really challenging for everyone to kind of get through and realize how we're gonna move forward and I think it's really amazing to be here in person," singer Tinashe said.

When asked what she was most looking forward to, singer Bia said, "The performances, and hopefully like walking across the stage with something."

Fans had been casting their votes in 14 gender-neutral categories, including Artist of the Year, which went to Justin Bieber.

"I want to say thank you guys so much," Bieber said.

Lil Nas X took home Video of the Year for his single "Montero."

The VMAs were mostly virtual last year, with no in-person ceremony. So, Sunday night acted as New York City's welcome home party for music.

"It feels like New York is coming back a little and that's great," Cyndi Lauper said.

"It's still a busy body. It's still the heart of the city, but it feels a little bit more calm," model Winnie Harlow added.

The evening was extra special for all the New York natives.

"I'm at home. I'm from Brooklyn, so I'm from a couple blocks that way. A lot of blocks, but I feel good," musician Saint John said.

"Just with the world back and the Barclays Center open again, this feels amazing," said Vinny Guadagnino of the Jersey Shore.

It was the first VMAs for breakout star Olivia Rodrigo, but the carpet brought back plenty of familiar faces, including boy band heartthrobs Lance Bass, A.J. McLean and Nick Lachey.

"I'm fangirling so hard right. How how are you feeling tonight?" Bauman asked.

"New York is one of my favorite cities in the entire world and to be part of this again after 30 years is an honor and a privilege," McLean said.

There were also strict COVID-19 protocols for the show this year, which many of the performers told Bauman made then feel at ease.

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