Music Updates

Megan Thee Stallion Dominates First-Round Ballot For 2021 MTV Video Music Awards

The VMAs did away with gendered categories four years ago, when they introduced the gender-neutral artist of the year category. Male and female artists are about evenly represented in that category this year — there are 15 male and 17 female entrants.

Most of the artists nominated for artist of the year are in their 20s or 30s, but there are a few exceptions. This year’s oldest contender is Jennifer Lopez, 51, followed by DJ Khaled, 45, and Alicia Keys, 40. It’s a huge achievement for older artists to retain their relevancy in what is very much a young person’s game.

The youngest contenders for artist of the year are Olivia Rodrigo, 18, and Billie Eilish, 19.

Two artists — Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke – are vying in that category posthumously.

Rock, which was still the dominant genre when the VMAs launched in 1984, is this year’s most thinly populated genre category, with just 17 entries. Pop is this year’s most crowded genre category, with 80 entries, followed by hip-hop (65), alternative (53), K-pop (40), R&B (37), and Latin (29).

The VMAs are apparently dropping the best group category, which they brought back in 2019 following a 12-year absence. BTS won the last two years. The red-hot septet is likely to be nominated in several other categories. BTS could be headed for its third consecutive win for best K-pop and its second straight win for best pop. They are entered in both categories this year with “Butter,” which spent its first seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Voters are asked to pick their top five choices in each category in descending order. There is an option for write-in candidates. Voters can click a link on the online ballot to see the video in every category.

The six technical categories are best direction, best art direction, best cinematography, best editing, best visual effects and best cinematography. Only the artists’ names appear on the ballot in the technical categories, not the name of the pro who shares the award with the artist.

This year’s VMAs are set for Sept. 12 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This will be the show’s second time at that venue. The VMAs first originated from Barclays eight years ago.

Here’s a recap of the 12 creative categories. We show the number of entries in that category this year; the year the category was introduced; the name(s) of the most frequent winner(s) in the history of the category; and the name of last year’s winner in the category.

Video of the year:
Number of entries: 53
Category introduced: 1984
Top winners: Eminem, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift (2 each as lead artists)
Last year’s winner: The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”

Artist of the year:
Number of entries: 32
Category introduced: 2017
Top winners: no repeat winners yet
Last year’s winner: Lady Gaga

Song of the year:
Number of entries: 60
Category introduced: 2018
Top winners: no repeat winners yet
Last year’s winner: Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me”

Best new artist:
Number of entries: 75
Category introduced: 1984
Top winners: not applicable
Last year’s winner: Doja Cat

Best collaboration:
Number of entries: 62
Category introduced: 2007
Top winners: Beyoncé (3)
Last year’s winner: Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me”

Best pop:
Number of entries: 80
Category introduced: 1999
Top winners: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake (counting two with ‘N Sync)
Last year’s winner: BTS’ “On”

Best hip-hop:
Number of entries: 65
Category introduced: 1999
Top winners: Drake, Nicki Minaj (3 each)
Last year’s winner: Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage”

Best rock:
Number of entries: 17
Category introduced: 1989
Top winners: Aerosmith (4)
Last year’s winner: Coldplay’s “Orphans”

Best alternative:
Number of entries: 53
Category introduced: 1991
Top winners: Nirvana (3)
Last year’s winner: Machine Gun Kelly, “Bloody Valentine”

Best Latin:
Number of entries: 29
Category introduced: 2010
Top winners: J Balvin (3)
Last year’s winner: Maluma featuring J Balvin’s “Qué Pena”

Best R&B:
Number of entries: 37
Category introduced: 1993
Top winner: Beyoncé (4, counting two with Destiny’s Child)
Last year’s winner: The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”

Best K-pop:
Number of entries: 40
Category introduced: 2019
Top winners: BTS (2)
Last year’s winner: BTS “On”

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