The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced on Tuesday afternoon, and—in a pop cultural climate where egregious snubs can feel like the norm—we were delighted to see that the Video of the Year category looks pretty much perfect. The five nominees:
But when every video up for consideration is a gift directly from the YouTube goddesses, how can you possibly pick a favorite? Fusion's Pop&Culture team weighed in.
Were this literally any other award show, my pick for Video of the Year would go to Adele's "Hello." Not only did that song hit number one and become completely inescapable during this award season, it is exactly the kind of video that parents love—shot in sepia tones with wind and leaves. It even got a SNL spoof. Were this a regimented endeavor with a voting bloc to win, Adele's "Hello" would be a shoe-in. But this is not a rule-based game. The VMAs are a disaster in every arena, but most specifically in their very secretive voting process which involves an unnamed committee and some percentage of fan votes. And because of that, my pick is going to be Beyoncé's "Formation," which frankly deserves an Oscar, too.
Well, this list is meta as fuck. Can we please talk about how Kanye’s “Famous” music video—featuring a naked Taylor Swift lookalike and of course the controversial lyrics, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous”–would not be on list list, let alone exist, if the VMAs just gave Best Female Video to Beyoncé in 2009 like we all know they should have instead of letting Taylor Swift win? Can we also talk about how the VMA nod for “Famous” is proof that Kimye won that Swift feud in the same way that Drake’s Grammy nod for his Meek Mill diss track “Back to Back” was the sweetest of revenges? While the competition is fierce as all hell on this list, there’s no actual way that anyone other than Beyoncé and her battalion of Gucci-clad backup dancers is going to win this, right? I mean, did you see “Formation?!" Hell, they should just remake the VMA Moonman in the shape of Beyoncé.
I don’t know the last time I felt this good about all the choices in an given category at any awards show. For once, the universe is just, and it’s totally overwhelming. The way I see it, you have to vote for Beyoncé—that’s a given. “Formation” is on another level of artistry and cultural import. It almost feels a little like cheating that it should be considered for a VMA at all. But for Sepia Video of the Year, I choose you, Adele (and for Eyeliner of the Year, too). There’s a special place in my heart for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” because I watched it about a thousand times while preparing to add the song to my karaoke repertoire (hard recommend). “Famous” would probably be my last choice, which is insane, because I love that song and I ~ looove ~ that drama. But “Hotline Bling” is my Miss Congeniality, no doubt about that. I love that video so much and I can’t explain why. I see Drake dancing in my dreams.
I had plans on Saturday, Feb. 6. I had a full night planned, in fact. But then 3:47pm rolled around, and Beyoncé fucked me and my entire day right up with the surprise release of her “Formation” video. From the track’s explicitly pro-black lyrics (“I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”) to the accompanying clip’s powerful political imagery (the “stop shooting us” tag, BEYONCÉ LITERALLY SINKING A NEW ORLEANS SQUAD CAR IN THE WATERS OF A FLOODED NEW ORLEANS), I was floored—quite literally, lying on the floor in front of my computer watching and rewatching “Formation” while I refreshed Twitter and group-texted my friends apology after apology that I’d probably be super late to drinks that evening. Beyoncé wasn’t exaggerating her ability to “stop the world” on her Nicki Minaj collab, “Feeling Myself,” and the “Formation” video, released with no promotion on a Saturday afternoon, only further served to back up that claim. Drake might’ve stopped Twitter with “Hotline Bling,” and Kanye might’ve stopped Taylor in her tracks with “Famous.” But Beyoncé's video stopped the police, Fox News, and every other racist white American institution in the country. Give her the VMA!!!! Or at least don’t give it to Justin Bieber.