Your Guide to the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards


This Sunday is the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. The 30th installment of the annual anything-goes award show, this year’s festivities are, for the first time, broadcasting live from Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. Also historic is the brand new KAWS-created redesign of the iconic Moonman. Unlike last year, where some of the show’s thunder was stolen by running opposite the Democratic National Convention and President Obama’s speech, MTV seems to know that all eyes will be on it this year and have stacked the show from top-to-bottom. So, for those of you who are thinking of tuning in because you’ve finally outgrown those “MTV doesn’t play videos” jokes, here’s our rundown for what’ll be going down Sunday night.

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Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven”
Directed by Cameron Duddy and Bruno Mars

With MTV always being so focused on the future, Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” with its aesthetic tribute to old media, really stands out, even amongst nostalgia obsessed video blocks. Primarily focused on his performance, the tinges of color-changing and VHS ripples harken back to MTV’s yesteryear without being overtly dipped in nostalgia. The Best Video nod is only one of three nominations for Mars, who is also going to perform the next single from his Unorthodox Jukebox album at the show, perhaps looking to top his classic VMA tribute to Amy Winehouse at the 2011 VMAs which even Tyler, the Creator had to give props to.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz – “Thrift Shop”
Directed by Jon Jon Augustavo, Ryan Lewis, Ben Haggerty

Last year at this time, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were both two of the brightest stars in the hip-hop underground, but even their most devoted of fans would likely be shocked at how they’ve absolutely taken over the world since. With an entirely independent blueprint (their distribution deal with Warner is with them as an independent entity) the two vivisected the industry and are now tied for the most (6) nominations of the night, with nods in other categories such as “Best Video with a Message” and “Best Direction” for their clips “Same Love” and “Can’t Hold Us.” The two are also going to be performing at the show, making their appearance one of the most anticipated debuts.

Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell – “Blurred Lines”
Directed by Diane Martel

Controversial, star-studded and infectious, it shouldn’t be surprising that “Blurred Lines” is nominated for Video of the Year. As Robin’s father Alan Thicke told us, part of the appeal for “Blurred Lines” might be how imitable it is visually. The clip is also nominated for “Best Male Video” and “Best Collaboration,” and one can hope the elder Thicke makes an appearance for Robin’s performance Sunday as well.

Taylor Swift – “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Directed by Anthony Mandler

The only Best Video nominee not scheduled to perform on Sunday’s telecast, it was only four years ago that Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in a moment so rude that even President Obama disapproved, but whose aftermath launched her into a full-blown pop crossover supernova. While she’s caught flack in recent years for her steady stream of songs about her public break-ups, the Anthony Mandler directed “I Knew You Were Trouble” is the most compelling visualization of her heartache yet. The juxtaposition of her waking up alone the day after a music festival juxtaposed with the unfaithful mayhem of the night before is a strong enough clip to someday be career defining.

Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors”
Directed by Floria Sigismondi

Tied with Macklemore with six nominations and taking home the night’s coveted Video Vanguard award, there’s a good chance this Sunday night will be all about Justin Timberlake. While the rampant rumors of an N*SYNC reunion have been tearing up our hearts, even if it doesn’t come to fruition, there’s still the heartbreaking “Mirrors” clip racking up “Best Video,” “Best Male Video,” “Best Pop Video” and “Best Editing” nods, while “Suit and Tie” is up for Best Collaboration and Best Direction.

Up next: The Performances


Along with the aforementioned Best Video nominees taking the stage, the night has no shortage of star-power. Leading the announcements surrounding this year’s VMAs is Lady Gaga opening the show. From swapping-genders to a meat-dress, the 2010 “Video of the Year” winner has always gone out for the Video Music Awards, and putting her right at the kickoff should give the rest of the evening a lot to live up to.

The rest of the line-up is absolutely stacked with big winners from previous years promising landmark performances. 2011 “Video of the Year” winner Katy Perry will be performing her new single “Roar” for the first time live, as will “Best Hip-Hop Video” staple Drake with “Started From the Bottom.” Also shaking, or should we say “Twerking,” things up will be Miley Cyrus performing her thrice-nominated “We Can’t Stop,” along with her “Twerk Team” who’ve been putting in twerk and twerking hard all week to make sure everyone in attendance gets a good twerk-out and catches twerk-berculosis.

Of course, these are just the announced performances. Let’s not forget what makes the VMAs so much fun is the unpredictability the comes with the highly combustible element of pop music’s biggest stars all under one roof. Who will fall in love? Who will get into a fist-fight? Who will throw a tantrum? These questions will all be answered this Sunday, but before you sit down to watch with your official Taco Bell VMA Box, make sure you make your voice heard and VOTE for this year’s winners. It’s what Jesse Camp would have wanted.

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