The anything-goes award show is back. The current biggest names in music will vie for the coveted Moon Person (The show changed the award from “Moonman” last year to make it more gender-neutral).
For the first time since 2010, six videos are up for the biggest award of the evening, Video of the Year. Despite garnering more nominations than anyone (10), nothing from Cardi B’s praised debut album Invasion of Privacy is up for the top prize. However, she did land a nom here for her ‘90s-nostalgic collaboration on Bruno Mars’ remix of his song “Finesse”. Elsewhere, under the alias “The Carters”, the one-two punch of Beyonce and Jay-Z brought us the Louvre-set “APES**T” video, with Beyonce being the only artist nominated this time to have won the top prize before. Another visually extravagant nominee is Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry”, while Drake’s generosity-driven “God’s Plan” has a good chance to score big. Then there’s “Havana”, the Hispanic-pride filled megahit of former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. However, expect all of them to be triumphed by Childish Gambino’s monumental “This Is America”.
The first music video released by Gambino since 2013, “This Is America” sent off shockwaves across the internet upon its release. Always one for surprises, Donald Glover unveiled the piece online the night he performed it on Saturday Night Live. Opening to widespread acclaim, the only thing that kept “This Is America” from reaching the top of YouTube’s trending page was it being outdone by analysis videos pointing out all the hidden messages scattered throughout the political video. The previous two Video of the Year winners were also both rap songs (Beyoncé’s “Formation” in 2016 and Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE” in 2017), a genre that has emerged towards the mainstream recently.
Since Childish Gambino hasn’t made a full-fledged album this year, he’s not up for Artist of the Year. Instead, Drake is the likely choice here following his massive Scorpion album’s release that shattered streaming records left and right. Don’t count out Ariana Grande here, though: Along with “No Tears Left to Cry”, last month’s “God is a Woman” music video could have helped reinvigorate her into the minds of voters in these past few weeks.
Cardi B is practically a lock for Best New Artist. If there’s anyone to upset her in that category, it could be Lil Uzi Vert, since his “XO Tour Llif3” won Song of the Summer last year, even beating out “Despacito”. Even then, it’s still a longshot for the “Bodak Yellow” rapper to lose.
That brings up an important note: YouTube views aren’t everything. In a show where the awards are voted upon by the public in favor of whatever music is popular, that doesn’t always mean what you hear on radio three times a day is guaranteed to win. Last year, the aforementioned “HUMBLE” scored Video of the Year, even beating out Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”, despite the latter song dominating radio for a year and gaining almost twice as many YouTube views at the time of this writing. It’s safe to say the awards themselves are just as unpredictable as the show itself (remember, this was where Kanye hopped onstage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance, among other happenings of VMAs in the past).
The VMAs will air live on MTV on August 20.