Music videos changed the way we consumed songs—and even though MTV hardly plays them any more, we’re still drawn to their annual Video Music Awards, or VMAs.
This year’s awards show takes place on August 24, and features a cast of familiar faces. Contending for the top honors are a R&B diva who stunned the world when she dropped a full “visual album" late last year, a teen sensation turned most GIF-ed artist in the world, and a pop songwriter who refuses to show her face on any promotional material. Sound confusing? Don’t fret; we’ve got you covered with the breakdown of the race for the Best Music Video of the Year.
Beyoncé featuring Jay Z, "Drunk in Love"
Obviously Beyonce is pretty much a lock in this category. The December 2013 surprise release of her self-titled fifth studio album scored a PR coup the likes of which we have not seen since Madonna convinced two twentysomething pop stars to make out with her on camera.
Apart from her musical chops, Beyonce and her hubby did a solid job of staying in the media spotlight amid cheating rumors and the now-infamous Solange elevator tape. But with their joint On The Run tour just underway right after a massively successful international Ms. Carter tour wrapped, are we also suffering from Bey fatigue?
Bey has always seemed preternaturally gifted for this kind of mesmerizing rear end gyration/twerk fusion dance.
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, "Fancy"
“Fancy” has everything going for it: a 1990s-themed, “Clueless”-influenced video treatment and a catchy hook provided by Charli XCX. Though it might not be her most critically acclaimed song—2011’s “Pu$$y” is a lyrical masterpiece—“Fancy” had all the trappings of a sure-fire hit, and served as an amazing star vehicle for Iggy. Will she win best video? Probably not, but does it matter? She got good mileage from the track, and even had a minor mishap while performing the hit on "Dancing With The Stars" a couple of months ago.
You’ve got to love Iggy’s imitation of Cher Horowitz’s classic 1990s prep look complete with plaid skirt and knee high socks.
Pharrell Williams, "Happy"
Sure, the Neptunes are great and Pharrell’s production work is largely flawless, but this song is so saccharine and sweet I can practically feel my bicuspids rotting in their gums as we speak. Between his penchant for the hatmaking arts, and that Oscar performance where he shimmied with Lupita Nyong'o and Meryl Streep, Williams has received more than enough attention for a song originally intended as the theme song from “Despicable Me 2.”
Magic Johnson’s two-second cameo in “Happy” almost makes the entire music video worth watching.
Is there anyone else that finds Sia’s brand of non-promotion promotion for her latest studio album, “1000 Forms Of Fear,” refreshing? She refuses to show her face and has only done a handful of televised performances in the past couple of months.
For “Chandelier” she co-opted Maddie Ziegler, of “Dance Moms” fame, to serve as a lithe wig-wearing ballerina. Apart from Ziegler, Sia raised more than a couple of eyebrows when she used Lena Dunham has her stand-in for a recent performance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” In the end, Sia is a pop rebel with the indie musical chops. Will she win this time? Only if Beyonce manages to accidentally tweet out #FreePalestine sometime between now and August 28.
With the taut build of a Chinese gymnast, Ziegler captures how we all feel every time your direct deposit check clears.
Miley Cyrus, "Wrecking Ball"
Miley came into 2014 fresh on the heels of a jaw-dropping performance at last year’s VMAs, and catapulted into viral fame thanks to this skintastic video. After wrapping up the “Bangerz” tour, Cyrus has never been in a better place career-wise, but it’s unlikely that she’ll really be a contender for the VMAs’ highest prize.
Yes, the “Wrecking Ball” video became a viral sensation. But the recent allegations of sexual abuse surrounding everyone’s favorite pervy uncle and director/photographer, Terry Richardson, have pretty much killed Cyrus’ chances of capturing a Moon Man.
Whatever you call this—who could forget it?