Pop stars Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga led a girl power list of nominations on Thursday for the MTV Video Music Awards, which added two new categories to reflect how musicians are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Grande and Gaga got nine nominations each, mostly from their dancey collaboration “Rain on Me” whose nods included best video, song and collaboration of the year.
Gaga, John Legend, Post Malone and DJ D-Nice all won nominations in the special best quarantine performance category for their appearances earlier this year on a series of virtual concerts, fundraisers and social media events. Grande’s first duet with Justin Bieber, “Stuck with U,” was nominated in the new best music video from home field, along with Drake’s “Tootsie Slide,” Legend’s “Bigger Love” and “Level of Concern” from Twenty One Pilots.
Billie Eilish, who swept the Grammy awards in January, won six VMA nominations in a lineup dominated by women, including rapper Megan Thee Stallion, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift. However, both Grande and Eilish were overlooked in the coveted artist of the year race, which is comprised of Gaga, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, The Weeknd, Bieber and DaBaby. Winners are chosen by fans who vote online.
The VMA show, known for its surprises and irreverent vibe, is due to take place live in physical form at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center arena on Aug. 30. MTV said last month that some VMA performances would take place at unspecified New York landmarks and that social distancing and limits on capacity would be enforced at the 19,000-seat indoor venue.