Dua Lipa is becoming a staple at music awards shows. She wowed at the BRIT Awards in February, taking home the award for British Female Solo Artist award and giving a speech in which she thanked "every single female" who came before her and carved out a path for women. She also performed her hit "New Rules." Lipa did a reprise performance of the hit single at the Billboard Music Awards in May, making waves with a giant flamingo.
Lipa is arguably the biggest breakout female solo artist of the year, barring Camila Cabello who already had a degree of fame and a fan base from her time in Fifth Harmony. Lipa would slide nicely into the Best New Artist, Best Collaboration, or Best Pop categories. But she's only nominated for one major VMA, Song of the Year, with another nod for her collaboration with Calvin Harris on "One Kiss" getting a Best Dance nod and "IDGAF" getting a richly deserved Best Choreography nod (that award is not given during the telecast). Why was she boxed out of the top awards? Is MTV snubbing her — and, more importantly, is that a good look when the industry is struggling with representation for female artists?
Unlike the Grammys and the Billboard Music Awards, the MTV VMAs don't publicly reveal the dates of eligibility for nominees and don't have a particular voting body or charts they base the nominations on. Historically, the nominations are voted on by a selected pool of music industry employees, MTV employees, and sometimes artists themselves. (Representatives for MTV did not respond to a request about the eligibility dates for the 2018 nominees or whom the voters were at press time.)
Here's what we do know: the video for "New Rules" was released on 7th July 2017, while the single went to radio for airplay in America on 22nd August 2017. It's unclear if MTV's Best Song nominees have anything to do with the video that accompanies them. One would assume yes, consider this is an awards show for music videos, but if so, what's the difference between the award for Video of the Year and Song of the Year? Either way, that means the eligibility period was probably roughly between 1st July 2017 and 1st July 2018.
"New Rules" has been Lipa's biggest hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart back in February. Her video for "IDGAF" came out in January of 2018 and the song hasn't really broken through in the U.S. — it appears to have peaked at No. 49 in the Hot 100 in America, while it went to No. 3 in the UK. That is unusual for an artist who has already had a top 10 hit, to not have their label push for their follow-up single to be as successful. It's also on-trend in America, where the Annenberg Institute reported women musicians, songwriters, and producers are seeing their influence dwindle, and with it go the marketing budgets to support them.
It's doubtful MTV are snubbing her and more likely that the music industry voters who cast their vote felt she didn't have enough hits yet to deserve more attention. Maybe she'll get a profile bump by being asked to perform on the show, but frankly we'd rather hear her next award acceptance speech — because women need all the shout outs they can get in music.