For his part, Juice WRLD is the first artist to be nominated for video of the year posthumously since The Notorious B.I.G. was nominated in 1998 for his featured role on Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” (which also featured The LOX, Lil’ Kim and Fuzzbubble). Kurt Cobain was also nominated posthumously for his part of Nirvana’s 1994 hit “Heart-Shaped Box.”
Taylor Swift is nominated for video of the year for “The Man” a year after winning in the category for “You Need to Calm Down.” She’s the first artist to be back in the finals in the top category the year after winning since her one-time nemesis, now pal, Katy Perry was nominated for “Wide Awake” in 2012, a year after winning for “Firework.” In all of VMAs history, only three other artists have made the finals the year after winning—Eminem (who did it twice), Britney Spears and Beyoncé.
Swift, who won in the socially-minded video for good category last year for the LGBTQ-friendly “You Need to Calm Down” is back to defend with the feminist-themed “The Man.” She has a chance to become the third two-time winner in the category, following John Legend and Big Sean.
Drake ties Rihanna and U2 for the most career video of the year nods by an artist who wasn’t born in the U.S. Each has had four nods. Drake is nominated this year as a featured artist on Future’s "Life Is Good,” following nods for “Take Care" (featuring Rihanna), “Hotline Bling” and “God’s Plan.”
The Lady Gaga/Ariana Grande collab “Rain on Me” is just the fifth all-female collab in VMAs history to receive a video of the year nod. Notably, Gaga was on board for two of them. She teamed with Beyoncé on “Telephone” (2010). The other all-female collabs to receive video of the year nods are Brandy & Monica’s “The Girl Is Mine” (1998), Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa and P!nk’s “Lady Marmalade” (featuring Missy Elliott, 2001), and Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX’s “Fancy” (2014).
This is Grande’s third video of the year nod in a row, following “No Tears Left to Cry” (2018) and “Thank U, Next” (2019). Grande is the first artist to be nominated three years running since Beyoncé (2014-16).
Gaga is the only artist nominated for each of the three highest-profile awards--video of the year, artist of the year and song of the year. In the three years that the VMAs have presented all three awards, this is the sixth time that one artist has achieved the clean sweep. Camila Cabello, Drake and Bruno Mars were nominated in all three categories in 2018. Grande and Jonas Brothers were nominated in all categories three last year.
J. Balvin, who has won best Latin video the last two years running, has a chance to extend his winning streak to three straight years. He is nominated for “Amarillo.” He won the last two years with “Mi Gente,” a collab with Willy William (2018), and “Con altura,” a collab with Rosalía (featuring El Guincho, 2019).
Jonas Brothers, who won best pop video last year for “Sucker” are back to defend their title with “What a Man Gotta Do.” They have a chance to become just the third act to win two years running in this category, following 'N Sync (2000-01) and Spears (2008-09).
BTS, who won last year’s inaugural best K-Pop video for “Boy With Luv” (featuring Halsey) are back to defend with “On.” Unlike "Boy With Luv," "On" is also nominated for best pop video.
Changes I: The VMAs dropped best dance video (won last year by The Chainsmokers’ “Call You Mine” (featuring Bebe Rexha). The VMAs had a dance category every year from 1989-2006, but have dispensed with it in six of the last 14 years.
Changes II: The VMAs re-added best alternative video to their list of categories. They presented this award (initially called best pop-modern video) every year from 1989-98. Nirvana is the top winner, with three wins in the category.
Changes III: The VMAs combined two new artist categories into one—now named push best new artist, presented by Chime Banking. Last year Eilish won both best new artist and push artist of the year. Lizzo and H.E.R. also competed in both categories, confusing the audience (and even a few professional awards analysts!)
Changes IV: The VMAs also added two pandemic-related categories—best music video from home and best quarantine performance.