Award show season is kicking off—the MTV Video Music Awards are coming up this Sunday.
I, for one, really enjoy the VMAs: I love award shows and I love music videos. I also look forward to the VMAs every year because they’re surprisingly influential; while the Moonman might not necessarily be the most prestigious of prizes in some critics’ minds, the show itself is absolutely one of the largest consistent platforms for promotion, sensational performances, and controversy. The highlights in many artists’ careers are remembered in VMA snapshots—they have played a prominent role in pop music performance for years, and continue to do so, so as a music writer, I think it’s important to continue to observe them.
That being said, I also think it’s important to appreciate the work being nominated. Music videos have come to play huge roles in the careers of many artists, and regardless of budget or production size, they work hard on these projects—why shouldn’t they be recognized? It’s also a great way to experience artists in a different way, if you’re just starting to listen to someone; many artists show a completely different aspect of their talent in their video catalog.
This week, I’m getting ready for this year’s Video Music Awards by giving shout-outs to some of my favorite nominated clips—music videos you need to know, from The Weeknd to Taylor Swift. Each of the categories is linked to the MTV nominations list, if you want to see what else is nominated or check out some more videos.
Video killed the radio star, darling.
» Artist to Watch
Iggy Azalea isn’t messing around: The Australian-born rapper is the baddest bitch in her clip for “Work.” Her nomination is definitely appropriate—I, for one, find her charisma and presence in the video captivating, and could see her career really taking off if a single catches fire in the Top 40 vein.
“WE CAN’T STOP”
We’ve all seen it by now, but it definitely still deserves mention in the crowd of VMA nominees. “We Can’t Stop” isn’t just one of my favorite videos at this awards show, but in some time. The editing is killer, and Miley conducts herself with serious pop star poise—it’s the video for the song that will be remembered for catapulting her career to legitimacy.
Lana Del Rey:
» Best Art Direction
Like much of what Del Rey does, this video is at once bemusing and breathtaking. Its nomination for Art Direction is understandable—the styling gives a short-film feel that conveys an impressive amount of narrative (relying on some bold, polarizing symbolism) in the short span of one song.
“I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE”
The maudlin, ‘Twilight’-inspired opening monologue aside, this video’s a well-synced, sharply edited montage set to one of Swift’s most mainstream singles—and the product is an an engaging, embellished snapshot of the singer’s not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman phase.
This video is dark, dangerous, mysterious, sexy, kind of confusing—it plays brilliantly with lights and shadows, oozing an enigmatic appeal that’s something of a cross between Lenny Kravitz and Prince. It’s simple, but well-executed and surprisingly engaging.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert:
» Best Video With A Social Message
“Same Love” beautifully executes an anecdote that’s easy to deliver with a too-heavy hand. Its message is timely and, most importantly, timeless. It’s not just great because of it’s “bold” subject matter; the storytelling in the video is executed in a simple, sentimental fashion that tugs all the right heartstrings while steering clear of kitsch.[divider] [/divider] [divider] [/divider]
Aural Fixation runs new music every Monday, right here on Literally, Darling.
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