2013 MTV Video Music Awards: A Viewer’s Guide

Sam Lansky | August 23, 2013 5:30 am

It seems like just yesterday the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards were crashing through our TV screens, all squalling red carpet goblins and bombastic performances, and yet here we are, back again for another round. Here’s the good news: This year’s show looks pretty good!

There are a ton of monster performances (in particular, the Lady Gaga Katy Perry Miley Cyrus set trifecta is spectacularly promising) and a litany of big confirmed presenters, even if they aren’t performing (One Direction will be there and hey, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, are you going to talk to Justin Bieber or just leave him to rot on the red carpet in a pair of leather drop-crotch high-waisted harem pants? Either way is cool). Basically, the red carpet alone should be well worth watching.

Read on to find out what to expect on Sunday’s show.


There is no host. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true: As an MTV spokesperson explained, “For this year’s show, we’ve decided to go in a different direction than the traditional ‘host’ route — like we have done on multiple occasions throughout the years. Instead, we’re focusing on more musical performances and surprise comedic moments for this year’s VMAs.” This is probably a good thing, given that most hosts are objectively terrible. I’ll take it!


It is indeed a bro-fest among the major noms this year. Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis each have six nominations, while Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke each tallied four. The lone female in that top 5 is Miley Cyrus, who also snagged four.


Oh boy. This is a big year, performance-wise, especially with so many big new singles that have just dropped. Surely the newsworthiest performances come by way of the two sparring divas of the moment, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (who are, incidentally, seated together). Gaga will open the telecast with “Applause” (expect it to be showstopping), while Perry will perform “Roar” later in the evening.

No matter what happens, Justin Timberlake is confirmed to perform, although rumors that he’ll reunite with NSYNC have yet to be confirmed. Drake will be performing, too (I’m gunning for the gorgeous “Hold On We’re Going Home” although “Started From The Bottom” is an equally likely candidate), as well as his pop-R&B contemporaries Robin Thicke (because what everyone wants is to hear “Blurred Lines” yet again) and Bruno Mars, who — in fairness — tends to put on killer performances.

And who else? Breakout pop-rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be performing their marriage equality anthem “Same Love,” and no-longer-very-pop-rap rapper Kanye West, who will perform “Black Skinhead.” (Fun fact: That will be his seventh at the VMAs, tying him with Madonna for most performances at the show ever.)

Personally, though? I’m most excited to see Miley Cyrus, because I have a funny feeling that she’ll knock it out with a performance of “We Can’t Stop” (or maybe even a new song from BANGERZ).

Also expect preshow performances from teen wunderkinden Ariana Grande and Austin Mahone.


Is there a narrative in this year’s show? I’ve been harping on about this for awhile, but seriously: It seems like the theme is dudes. Men dominated the nominations this year, with very little love shown to some fairly obvious contenders: Only one lowly cinematography nomination for Lana Del Rey‘s “Ride”? No Video Of The Year nomination for Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”? Seriously, Bruno Mars’ utterly mediocre “Locked Out Of Heaven” video nominated all over the place? It seems like male-fronted pop-R&B was favored over literally everything else, which skewed the nominations heavily toward bros, even when their output wasn’t as great.

Performances-wise, there’s a nice pop diva showdown between Perry and Gaga, but mostly it feels like a pissing contest between Justin Timberlake, Drake, Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke to see who can be the most sexily in touch with their feelings while seducing y’alls lady parts. That’s not to say that it won’t be totally enjoyable — it probably will! — but especially considering the current of controversy over content that could be characterized as rape-y in Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Timberlake’s “Take Back The Night” (what rape organization?!), it’s a little grim to see so few ladies represented.


*Where my girls at, from the front to back?

*Will NSYNC actually reunite, and if so, how is Lance Bass going to get back from space in time?

*Will Taylor Swift punch Justin Bieber in the neck?

*Will Miley Cyrus stop? (Can she?)

*Will Lady Gaga and Katy Perry get into a wild brawl? Or will they hold hands and run away together, off into a glorious pop star sunset?

*Will Christina Aguilera crash the proceedings to promote Bionic? (Let’s hope so.)

What part of the VMAs are you looking forward to most? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter.