Taylor Swift, who last year became the first three-time winner of the VMAs’ marquee award, video of the year, is nominated in that category again this year for “Anti-Hero.” Could she possibly win that award again when the VMAs are presented at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Sept. 12?
Of course she could. “Anti-Hero” received seven nods, more than any other video this year. SZA’s “Kill Bill,” Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire” and the Sam Smith/Kim Petras collab “Unholy” each received five.
If “Anti-Hero” wins, Swift would become the first artist to win back-to-back awards for video of the year. She won last year for “All Too Well: The Short Film.” Her first two wins in the category were for “Bad Blood,” a collab with Kendrick Lamar (2015) and “You Need to Calm Down” (2019).
Swift is nominated in eight categories. She’s the year’s only artist to be nominated for all three of the highest-profile awards – video of the year, artist of the year and song of the year. MTV has yet to announce who will receive this year’s Video Vanguard award. If Swift takes that prize too, that could further boost her tally.
The VMA nominations were announced on Tuesday (Aug. 8). Here’s the full nominations list. And here are some noteworthy snubs and surprises in this year’s nominations:
As noted above, Drake has received six video of the year nods over the years, but he had an off-year this year. He landed just two nominations – best hip-hop as a featured artist on DJ Khaled’s “Staying Alive” and best direction for “Falling Back,” which was directed by Director X (Julien Christian Lutz). (In technical categories like best direction, the VMAs give artists credit for nominations even if they didn’t personally do the credited work.)
Surprise: Sam Smith and Kim Petras
It’s not surprising that Smith and Petras’ history-making collab “Unholy” is up for five awards including video of the year. But it is surprising that it’s not up for best collaboration. That makes no logical sense, but the VMAs do not always strictly adhere to logic. And the fact that it isn’t nominated for best collaboration makes that a much more competitive category.
For the first time since the artist of the year category was introduced in 2017, all six of the nominees are women – Beyoncé, Doja Cat, Karol G, Nicki Minaj, Shakira and Taylor Swift.
The five men with the most total nominations this year, just to set up a comparison, are Diddy, Bad Bunny, Metro Boomin, Kendrick Lamar and Rema. (Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary, also scored five nods.)
Were any of those men “snubbed” in the artist of the year category, or did women simply have a better year? You decide.
Surprise: Shakira and Karol G
Both Latin music powerhouses were nominated for artist of the year. It’s the first time two Latin artists have been nominated in that category in the same year. The first Latin artist to be nominated for artist of the year was Bad Bunny last year, who went on to win the award. Shakira and Karol G are nominated together for best collaboration and best Latin for “TQG.”
Beyoncé was nominated for artist of the year. OK, that’s not surprising. But these two related facts do qualify as surprises: This was Bey’s first nomination for artist of the year in the seven years that the award has been presented. And this was her only nomination this year. By contrast, SZA had six nominations this year — but was passed over for an artist of the year nod. There’s another surprise for you!
The K-pop group’s “Venom” received four nominations, but fell short in the top category, video of the year. Two of the video of the year finalists, Doja Cat’s “Attention” and Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl,” received fewer total nods (three), but got a nod in the top category anyway. The video of the year nominees are not just the videos that got the most nominations, but there’s usually a high correlation, which makes the exclusion of “Venom” feel like a snub.
The 23-year-old rapper received a surprise nomination for best new artist. Kaliii, formerly known as Kali, landed her first top 40 hit on the Hot 100 with “Area Codes.” She is featured on Fifty Fifty’s “Barbie Dreams,” the closing track on Barbie: The Album, which has reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
The Italian band won best alternative last year for “I Wanna Be Your Man,” but this year was moved over to best rock, where it is competing with four past winners for best rock – Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica. The line between rock and alternative has long been movable. Two of this year’s nominees for best alternative – Fall Out Boy and Thirty Seconds to Mars – are past winners for best rock.
Snub: Albums and long-form videos
The VMAs shelved these two categories, which were presented last year to Harry Styles’ Harry’s House and Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film,” respectively. Last year was the first year for the VMAs’ album of the year award, which allowed MTV to give Styles a high-profile award. (He lost video of the year to Swift and artist of the year to Bad Bunny.) The award for long-form video has been presented just three times over the years, to Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection (1991), Beyonce’s Lemonade (2016) and Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film” (2022). The latter was a video to a long song but not really a long-form video.