This Sunday night is the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards! For as much as people take shots at the network (“do they still play videos?” – a joke so old it's now regularly seen in 20 year old 90s sitcoms that air on Nick at Nite) as subsequently the show itself, the past five or so years have seen the VMAs become must-see event television once again. From Kanye West stealing Taylor Swift's big moment to Miley Cyrus twerking, the VMA's have once again become the pop culture hot button epicenter, with the ratings to prove it.
If you remember the West and Cyrus moments, and frankly who doesn't, you're going to want to be tuned in Sunday night because of the particular significance this 32nd annual event will likely have. Viacom executive Van Toffler, MTV President who has been with the network for 28 years, announced earlier this year he's stepping down and is overseeing this year's VMAs as one of his final acts. As a result, the two biggest VMA controversies of this generation may be making history again as Miley Cyrus hosts and Kanye West receives the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
For Cyrus, who won Video of the Year for “Wrecking Ball” at last year's event and had a representative of Los Angeles' homeless teen population accept on her behalf to draw attention to the cause, she's been making rounds in the press that this year is going to restore the energy many felt was missing from last year's telecast. Cyrus told the Times that the event, emanating from the Microsoft Center, will be “psychedelic” and “raw.”
As for Kanye, whose thrown as many great performances as he has tantrums at the event, the Video Vanguard could be his crowning moment. It was ten years ago when Kanye won his first Moonman for “Jesus Walks,” and as someone who has not only been outspoken about his artistic triumphs in the music video medium, but can back up every word of it, Kanye's acceptance performance could be as much of a celebration of Kanye as it is about the art of the music video itself. With Justin Timberlake's 2013 and Beyonce's 2014 Video Vanguard performances being the highlights of the night, Mr. West has a lot to live up to, which he probably will and then will not stop living it up.
MTV's been rather slow with the rollout of announcements of who will be performing. As of this writing, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Tori Kelly, Macklemore N Ryan Lewis, Demi Lovato, Twenty One Pilots with A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell will all be performing. But the performance we're most curious about is the re-emerging Justin Bieber debuting his new single “What Do You Mean” which could go any number of ways. This is, after all, the VMAs. The only way we'll be disappointed will be if it's boring and forgettable, something Bieber's endeavors seldom are.
As for the awards themselves, 15 Moonmen will be given out over the course of the telecast, with Video of the Year having the diverse nominees of Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Missing from that list is Nicki Minaj, who was the final artist announced to perform on Sunday, and given her comments regarding her issues with “Anaconda” not being nominated for Video of the Year, there's a chance some playful shots will be fired. Or she'll have a laugh about it. Or it won't be acknowledged at all. Definitely one of those three though.
Also notable about the awards is how the more technical categories are listed on MTV's site as separated “Professional Categories.” “Best New Artist” has also been renamed “Artist to Watch.” As with recent years, every category (except Video Vanguard) will be voted on by fans. So get your vote in now, and then meet us at Taco Bell Sunday for all the excitement their annual commemorative Video Music Award Big Boxes can contain. Live más.