MTV’s Video Music Awards are Monday, but speculation about what to expect from the annual (and always unpredictable) celebration goes way beyond which artists will take home the coveted Moon Man statues. From races to watch to the anniversary of a very important moment in pop culture, we’ve rounded up what you need to know before tuning in.
Who’s hosting the VMAs and how to watch
Comedian and author Sebastian Maniscalco is this year’s master of ceremonies. He’s known for, among other things, his memoir and Netflix special that are both titled “Stay Hungry.”
The awards ceremony will air live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey starting at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Monday, August 26.
Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande are tied with 10 nominations each. This includes video of the year, which pits Grande’s rom-com referencing “thank u, next” against Swift’s pride anthem “You Need to Calm Down.” Up-and-coming talent like Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X also have nominations this year, as does DJ Khaled’s “Higher,” which features the work of John Legend and the late Nipsey Hussle.
Missy Elliott, who dropped a surprise album on Friday, will also receive this year’s Video Vanguard Award. The award recognizes her work in both music and film.
Swift also has the honour of opening this year’s festivities and the Jonas Brothers will perform remotely from, according to a release, an “iconic location along the New Jersey shoreline.” Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes will also be on hand with their single, “Señorita.”
Other performers include Lizzo, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Lil Nas X, Rosalía, A$AP Ferg, Big Sean, H.E.R., Normani and Ozuna.
Presenters include Ice-T, John Travolta, Rick Ross, Salt-N-Pepa, Jonathan Van Ness from Netflix’s “Queer Eye” and US soccer players Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris.
There will also be a mini-reunion of stars from “The Sopranos,” as actors Drea De Matteo, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Vincent Pastore are presenting. Perhaps this is a nod to the event’s New Jersey setting? Perhaps it will double as a plug for the HBO show’s upcoming prequel movie?
What else is it noteworthy?
It’s been 10 years since Kanye West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video and insisted that this honour truly belonged to Beyoncé and her now-iconic “Single Ladies” performance. Swift, who won for the love song “You Belong To Me,” would debut the song “Innocent” at the following year’s ceremony. It was reportedly meant to be a response to the incident. Things have only escalated in the years since.
Given the many media stories that document the moment’s anniversary, and that Swift is performing, chances are good that audiences will get a chance to relive the awkwardness.
What could be other important moments from the show?
Further solidifying the links between music and fashion, Marc Jacobs will be the ceremony’s inaugural recipient of the MTV Fashion Trailblazer Award — a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The fashion designer, who has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, is also known for his strong views and activism — particularly when it comes to LGBTQ awareness. His acceptance speech may reflect this.