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A #BTS Look at the MMVAs

If you grew up in Canada you know that every summer as we near the end of the season the iHeartRadio MMVAs take over Toronto’s downtown core and bring tweens, teens and celebs in herds.

And as someone who was born and raised in the city I’ve honestly always had mixed feelings about the show. When I was really young I was upset my parents wouldn’t let me go and then in later years it irritated me that I couldn’t get in to all the after parties. I officially knew I was out of the appropriate age demo when I lived around the corner and stayed home.


Regardless of my previous personal experience, when Notable presented the opportunity to cover the show, it was an immediate yes and I was ready to jump at the chance to see the production from the inside out. And what a production it was – from homegrown talent to international superstars – the evening was a massive success from my point of view. It was truly an all-around positive evening full of surprise and delight with a few recurring themes I started to pick up as the night progressed.

The Fan Experience is like no other award show
Seriously. I think every single international artist echoed this sentiment. Being able to present a category, win an award and interact with fans, music festival-style is what truly makes the iHeartRadio MMVAs so unique. From Awkwafina to Sofi Tukker, the celebrities and artists were completely delighted by how close they were able to get to the fans for the night. And not because they don’t get enough attention in their day-to-day but because it’s not typical for an awards show guestlist. The block party feel allows for artists and fans to get close and interact in a new way.

For Canadian artists – the sentimental value is real
Like I said above, I grew up watching the MMVAs and guess what? So did every other millennial kid. It means something to be able to walk that red carpet and be recognized in your home country and for many of these artists, their home city. Singer-songwriter Scott Helman put it best last night saying, “International and American awards shows seemed so inaccessible to a Canadian kid. The MMVAs always showed me that making it in Canada or as a Canadian was possible.” There is something to be said for the biggest street party in Canada happening in your own backyard and it definitely was a measure of success for local artists to experience it themselves.

Toronto has officially made its mark on the international music scene
OK I know Drake’s been around for a while. And many, many artists before his time but local and international artists alike are giving Canada and specifically Toronto the credit it deserves as a place to develop and cultivate talent. Artists want to come to Toronto to work. They have set up studios in our city and last night bands like New City and artists like Brett Kissel were comparing the city’s versatility of collaborators to the likes of Nashville and LA. It’s kind of cool to see our city be recognized by so much great talent, especially on a night so iconic to Toronto.

Representation has always mattered at the MMVAs
Something that kept coming up for talent and has been a recurring theme of 2018 is representation in our media and entertainment. Well as someone who’s been watching the MMVAs for quite some time, I feel confident in saying that diversity has never been an issue for this awards show. It has always done a great job of showcasing Toronto and Canada’s melting pot culture and this year was no exception. Fresh off her breakout year was Awkwafina as the night’s host and rounding out local artists you have the diverse duo of Loud Luxury. The MMVAs have always prided itself on representation but it was nice to have an awards show host and plenty of guests who could so easily speak to what it meant to not only be represented but also how seamless and comfortable it felt being in the city.


So despite our up and down relationship, I have to say that this year’s iHeartRadio MMVAs really surprised me. Apart from finally recognizing the huge production value, to then being reminded as to why it is such a meaningful night for the artists, hosts and especially the fans, I am proud to admit that I heart the MMVAs and I can’t wait to see what they bring for years to come.

Alexandra Nikolajev

Lex Niko is a Toronto-based digital content creator and writer covering everything from celebrity news to the best beauty finds. You can find her at and @lexniko.