The MTV Video Music Awards are one of the top award events of the year for the music industry. Over a quarter century of presentations have given the MTV Video Music Awards a reputation as one of the most unpredictable and therefore fascinating televised entertainment celebrations of the year. From Britney Spears kissing Madonna to Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift, there always seems to be something to talk about the next day.
My predictions are my best guess at the outcome at the time of the awards. Voters ultimately determine the winners. The predicted winner is in bold type along with commentary on each nominee. I make predictions in the top five overall and pop categories. Check out the full list of nominations to see who is up for awards in other categories.
Video Of the Year
- Drake and Rihanna - "Take Care" - This is indeed a gorgeous video for a gorgeous song. French director Yoann Lemoine is swiftly building a strong resume of music videos. His minimalist images match well the spare Jamie xx production of the song. However, it seems not quite weighty enough to be the video of the year.
- Gotye featuring Kimbra - "Somebody That I Used To Know" - Few music videos so beautifully and seamlessly blend with the music itself. The painting in the clip is modeled after a 1980s artwork by Gotye's father Frank de Backer. Painting both Gotye and Kimbra to fit the background was a painstaking process. This stunning achievement should be named video of the year.
- M.I.A. - "Bad Girls" - If there is a dark horse for video of the year, this would be hit. Few viewers will be familiar with M.I.A.'s song. However, if you've seen the music video you won't soon forget it. The Romain Gavras clip depicting Muslim women as daredevil drag racers was created in solidarity with the Women To Drive movement, a campaign aiming to earn driving rights for the women of Saudi Arabia.
- Katy Perry - "Wide Awake" - This is perhaps the most elegant and accomplished music video for a Katy Perry song yet. Throughout the clip she makes references to her previous Teenage Dream era music videos while moving forward with a powerful sense of strength. The music video is a triumph if not the top one of the year.
- Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris - "We Found Love" - This music video is filled with powerful imagery of violence and drug use that matches the "love in a hopeless place" sentiment of the song. However, the pastiche of imagery doesn't match the other videos in this category.
Best Female Video
- Beyonce - "Love On Top" - This simple and elegant music video is a breath of fresh air when compared with many of the other high concept clips crowded into these nominations. Beyonce's homage to classic male vocal groups is well worth seeing, but not good enough for this award.
- Selena Gomez and the Scene - "Love You Like a Love Song" - This music video will make you smile as it features Selena Gomez in a dizzying array of costumes and hairstyles. Entertaining but a bit too fluffy to win.
- Nicki Minaj - "Starships" - This is Nicki Minaj how we love her. She pulls out all the stops musically and visually providing a truly eye-filling spectacle of a video. This is arguably the best depiction of the Nicki Minaj aesthetic yet.
- Katy Perry - "Part Of Me" - Something just doesn't completely work here for Katy Perry. She exits a relationship and then heads out to join the military. One of her weaker video efforts, this clip does not deserve to win this award.
- Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris - "We Found Love" - Rihanna could give Nicki Minaj a strong challenge in this category. The intense imagery here is memorable.
Best Male Video
- Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend" - Justin Bieber is clearly maturing. The overall feel is of an artist navigating the late teen years. However, the standard footage of Justin Bieber with a horde of girls is not enough for victory in this category
- Chris Brown - "Turn Up the Music" - Despite the public outcry against him, Chris Brown continues on with his career. This music video is a great showcase for his dancing skills, and it does look like the best club in town. However, the overall effect is not powerful enough for a win.
- Drake featuring Rihanna - "Take Care" - This beautiful music video is likely to battle Frank Ocean down to the wire, but I don't think it will win. There is too much current wind at Frank Ocean's back.
- Frank Ocean - "Swim Good" - Last year's VMAs awarded Frank Ocean's Odd Future colleague Tyler, the Creator Best New Artist. This year I think it is Frank Ocean's turn for this visually powerful accompaniment to his critically acclaimed music.
- Usher - "Climax" - Usher's dark music video does hold your attention, but the lingering on emoting by the star overwhelms the story line. This is not the best clip in this category.
Best Pop Video
- Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend" - Justin Bieber's music video is fun, but he is outclassed in this category by the other nominees.
- fun featuring Janelle Monae - "We Are Young" - fun's breakthrough hit and the accompanying video are a landmark in pop music for 2012. This music video should win for no other reason than it points in new, more expansive directions for current mainstream pop music.
- Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa - "Payphone" - Just like the song "Payphone" was a bridesmaid on the charts, the music video will be in this category as well. It is exciting and fun, but ultimately it feels like just another Maroon 5 video.
- One Direction - "What Makes You Beautiful" - The boy band could pull an upset, but I think One Direction will have to settle for being happy with their nomination in this category.
- Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris - "We Found Love" - I think Rihanna will once again be an also-ran in this category with this video. The intensely downbeat feel of the music video does not seem to fit winner status in this category.
Best New Artist
- fun featuring Janelle Monae - "We Are Young" - This is probably the tightest of the major categories, but I think fun will have to settle for winning the pop category.
- Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen may be the sentimental fan favorite to win in this category, and her music video has one of the most memorable surprise endings of the year. However, I don't think it will be seen as "hefty" enough to win the award.
- Frank Ocean - "Swim Good" - The Odd Future collective won this award last year, and I think it will win it again this year in the person of Frank Ocean.
- One Direction - "What Makes You Beautiful" - The boy band will give Frank Ocean a strong run, but I think One Direction will have to look to the future to begin taking home awards.
- The Wanted - "Glad You Came" - As the #2 boy band in this category, The Wanted are unlikely to take home this award. There is plenty of eye candy in this clip, but ultimately it is standard issue for a music video.