Lest we forget: there is an “A” in VMA’s. For years now the show has de-emphasized the awards, democratized them, and toyed with categories from year to year — in an unmistakable desire to appeal to the youth. Back in the day, “industry professionals” decided VMA winners, and fans voted on one moonman, the aptly named “Viewers’ Choice Award.” That’s largely turned around, with all the major categories now voted on by fans. You can imagine what that’s done to who wins.
Popularity contests — dominated by artists with the most active fans on social media — that’s what it’s largely come to. There are no limits on the number of times one can vote, though MTV reserves the right to step in if there’s any vote tampering, interruptions, or “any other reason” deemed necessary. It’s also telling to note the categories MTV has ditched over the years, which include some of the most interesting: Breakthrough Video, Best Alternative Video, Most Experimental Video, and Best Video From a Film. In recent years, new categories were inserted for a year or two, mostly silly additions that played to fans and underscored that this is, first and foremost, a night for fun: Ringtone of the Year, Monster Single of the Year, Most Share-Worthy Video, and Best Song of the Summer.
The one area that has remained non-fan voted (and hence more credible) is the so-called “Professional Categories.” This year, in some of those, you can expect to see Evan Prosofsky take Best Cinematography for Lana Del Rey’s moody, black-and-white “West Coast,” though Gesaffelstein’s brilliant “Hate or Glory” truly deserves it; Best Art Direction ought to come down to either the ever-batshit Tyler, The Creator’s “Tamale,” art directed by Tom Lisowski, or Anastasia Masaro for Arcade Fire’s papier-maché-headed “Reflektor.” And, in Best Choreography, it’s a gimme: Sia’s “Chandelier,” choreographed by Ryan Heffington, and starring the thrilling young Maddie Ziegler, will grab that moonman and swing and swoop it all over the Forum.
As for those “Major Categories,” here’s a few, with what should win, and what will win, when it’s voted on by vox populi.