Now that we’ve all had a chance to digest the nominations for the 2019 Video Music Awards, we have some things to discuss.
This year’s most versatile artist: Cardi B is nominated as the year’s best in three distinct genres. She’s up for best pop for “Please Me,” her collabo with Bruno Mars; best hip-hop for her solo hit “Money”; and best dance for DJ Snake‘s “Taki Taki,” on which she is featured. Honorable mention goes to these four artists, who are each nominated in two genre categories: Ariana Grande (best pop, best hip-hop); Drake (best hip-hop, best Latin); Selena Gomez (best Latin, best dance); and J Balvin (best Latin, best dance).
Most welcome development: MTV reintroduced an award for best R&B after a 12-year absence. One of this year’s nominees, Alicia Keys, was a two-time winner in the category back in the day (2004-05). It’s good for all genres to be represented, especially one that is such a vital part of popular music. Welcome back, R&B. We missed you.
Most welcome development within a welcome development: Smokey Robinson, who was a music legend even before MTV went on the air in 1981, is nominated in the aforementioned best R&B category as a featured artist on Anderson .Paak‘s “Make It Better.” The ageless Robinson will turn 80 in February.
Most impressive sign of growth by a genre: In just a few short years, K-pop has grown to the point that it has its own category at the VMAs. There is absolutely zero suspense about who will win — BTS has a lock on the award for “Boy With Luv,” its hit collabo with Halsey — but, as with R&B, it’s nice to see all types of music represented.
Who cares about tech categories anyway?: Jonas Brothers and/or their comeback smash “Sucker” are nominated for the three highest-profile awards (video, artist and song of the year) but aren’t nominated in a single technical category.
Thank God for tech categories: FKA Twigs‘ “Cellophane,” LSD’s “No New Friends” and Solange‘s “Almeda” are each nominated in three technical categories — but were passed over in all of the higher profile categories, such as genre awards. (LSD is a collab between Labrinth, Sia and Diplo.)
At the Oscars, it’s the Fondas, the Hustons, the Coppolas. At the VMAs, it’s the Cyruses: Billy Ray Cyrus is up for video of the year, thanks to his featured role on Lil Nas X’s chart-busting “Old Town Road.” Cyrus’ daughter Miley Cyrus won in that category five years ago for “Wrecking Ball.” These aren’t the only Cyruses to score at the VMAs. Another of Billy Ray’s daughters, Noah Cyrus, was nominated for best new artist two years ago.
The VMALGBTQ award: Taylor Swift‘s “You Need to Calm Down” is the front-runner to win the video for good award, the new name for the best video with a social message award. This would be the third time that a LGBTQ-friendly video won in this category. The inaugural winner in the category in 2011 was Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way.” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ marriage equality anthem “Same Love” (featuring Mary Lambert) won two years later.
Weirdest omission: “a lot” by 21 Savage featuring J. Cole is nominated for video of the year, but it’s not up for best collaboration. Just as a matter of logic, how can that be? The other collaboration that is nominated for video of the year, “Old Town Road (Remix),” is up for best collab. Go figure.
Another notable omission: Swift tied with Grande for the most noms (10) by any artist this year, but she wasn’t one of the six artists nominated for artist of the year. (Like many awards shows, the VMAs like to spread the wealth around a bit.)
Competing against themselves: J Balvin and Bebe Rexha are each competing against themselves. J Balvin has two nominations for best Latin, while Rexha has two noms for best dance. The two artists join together on one of those nominees for best dance, “Say My Name,” a collabo with David Guetta.
Most confusing overlapping categories: Does anybody know the difference between best new artist, presented by Taco Bell, and push artist of the year — other than the obvious fact that best new artist has a sponsorship deal embedded in its name? Three artists — Billie Eilish, H.E.R. and Lizzo — are nominated for both awards this year. Last year, two artists — Chloe x Halle and Hayley Kiyoko — were nominated for both awards. (Should anyone be surprised that all five of these double nominees are women? Nope. That’s the way the pop winds are blowing.)