10 Videos That Were Rudely Snubbed By The 2020 VMAs
The 2020 MTV VMAs nominations were announced this week and they were a little head-scratching. Particularly when it came to Video Of The Year. At a time when pop music — I’m sure this also applies to hip-hop and country — is more diverse and experimental than ever, voters celebrated gimmicky, effects-laden visuals instead of original, important and/or emotionally-engaging content. I can think of dozens of videos that deserved better, but the following omissions (in alphabetical order) are particularly depressing.
BTS — “Black Swan”
K-Pop has its own category at the VMAs, which is great. But why isn’t the popularity and impact of the genre represented more broadly? BTS basically owns YouTube at this point, and for good reason. The group keeps raising the bar visually and artistically. “Black Swan” is a perfect example. The K-Pop Kings commission an original ballet (!) for the first visual and then showcased their own dizzying dance moves in the second. Give them their flowers.
Chloe x Halle — “Do It”
The Bailey sisters emerged as a creative force to be reckoned with in 2020 with a series of stunning visuals. “Do It,” in particular, is a simple concept executed to perfection. From the styling to the editing and lighting, everything about this is just right. Getting a Video Of The Year nomination shouldn’t depend on the size of your budget.
Dua Lipa — “Physical”
If voters had any idea of who is actually hot in pop right now, Dua Lipa would have been included in every major category. However, the fact that “Physical” isn’t in the running for Video Of The Year is a travesty. Cute, nostalgic and brilliantly conceived, this lifts the humble music video to new heights.
Harry Styles — “Watermelon Sugar”
Sometimes Stan Twitter knows best. And the outrage at Harry Styles being overlooked for Video Of The Year at the 2020 VMAs is one of those rare occasions. “Watermelon Sugar” is a) a huge hit b) elevated by its cheeky beach-side video and c) a little much-needed levity in a completely shitty year. This is the kind of instantly-iconic video that the VMAs should be celebrating.
Katy Perry — “Harleys In Hawaii”
One day I’m going to get on my soap box and write an entire think-piece on the cruel fate of “Harleys In Hawaii,” which is one of the most underrated pop songs in recent memory. But for now, I’ll just point out that capturing the mood of a song visually is an art unto itself. And this clip does it in the most casual, refreshing way.
Miley Cyrus — “Mother’s Daughter”
Everything that I said for “Harleys In Hawaii” applies here (when are Smilers getting justice for this anthem?). However, the omission of “Mother’s Daughter” is even more alarming because Miley’s mini-masterpiece is actually important thanks to its racial diversity, queer representation and unblinking body positivity. Surely this is the exact kind of messaging that the VMAs should get behind?
Normani — “Motivation”
So, Normani was robbed. I can’t think of a less abrasive way of putting it. “Motivation” is one of those rare videos that absolutely makes the song. It gives the banger context, explains its influences and delivers brilliant choreography. And then there’s the fact that it pays tribute to great videos of the past, which is something voters should have appreciated.
Rina Sawayama — “XS”
Imagine what the exposure of a Video Of The Year nomination could have done for a rising pop star like Rina Sawayama. She is pop’s new darling and a critical favorite, but her music needs to reach the masses. Which makes the snubbing of “XS” maddening. I mean, who else came up with a pop video treatment about the corrosive effects of capitalism?
Selena Gomez — “Lose You To Love Me”
Now, this hurts. “Lose You To Love Me” should not only have been nominated for Video Of The Year, it probably should have won. A great visual has nothing to do with bells and whistles. It’s about engaging the viewer emotionally and nobody did that more gracefully than Selena Gomez. The simplicity is what makes it so arresting. The video feels vulnerable, authentic and real. I can’t think of anything like it since Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U.” Hopefully, the Grammy committee has more sense.
Shakira & Anuel AA — “Me Gusta”
Everything I said about the underrepresentation of K-Pop applies equally to Latin artists. Superstars like Bad Bunny and Ozuna dominate YouTube and are starting to cross over to pop radio in a way not seen since the first Latin Wave of the late ’90s. And yet there isn’t a single Latin artist among the Video Of The Year nominees. Voters are seemingly dazzled by flashy special effects and costume changes, so why wasn’t Shakira and Anuel AA’s visually stunning “Me Gusta” rewarded? It serves all that and a whole lot more.