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MTV Video Music Awards

VMAs viewers' guide: Everything to know before Sunday night

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The wait is almost over: Sunday night, MTV will fete the biggest stars in music for its annual Video Music Awards event. Want to tune in to the most out-of-this-world awards show, but don’t know where to start? Read on, and get ready to blast off.

When are the VMAs? 

The 34th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be held on Sunday at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The ceremony will air live nationwide on MTV at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, with the pre-show airing one hour beforehand at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

What’s the name of the VMAs award?

After the MTV Movie and TV Awards made the switch to gender-neutral awards earlier this year, the VMAs have followed suit and eliminated all gender-specific categories from its list of awards. In that same vein, the network is no longer referring to its iconic statuette as the Moonman anymore, but rather the Moon Person. In addition, one of those brand new Moon People will be awarded in a brand new category, Artist of the Year.

Who’s hosting?

Bon appétit, Katycats! VMA nominee Katy Perry will MC this year, and will also take the stage to perform during the ceremony. “I’ve been training with MTV in zero gravity, eating astronaut ice cream, and I’m on a group text with Buzz Aldrin and Neil deGrasse Tyson,” the California gurl posted on Facebook in July. “Come August 27th, I’ll be ready to be your MOONWOMAN! Brace for impact, kids.”

MTV

Who’s performing?

The pre-show will feature performances from Bleachers, Cardi B, and Best New Artist nominee Khalid. In addition to Perry, the star-studded performance program for the main show includes Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Fifth Harmony, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, The Weeknd, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Shawn Mendes, and Video Vanguard Award recipient P!nk, with more names to come — and maybe a few surprises.

Who’s nominated?

Kendrick Lamar topped the list of nominations, collecting eight nods for “HUMBLE.,” among them Video of the Year, Best Hip Hop, and Artist of the Year for Lamar himself. The Weeknd and VMA host Perry are next in line, with five nominations each.

But wait, you say, how many nominations did “Despacito” get? Funny you should ask! The song that has been burning up the charts (and the dance floor) all summer and set a new record as the most-viewed YouTube video of all time didn’t get any nominations in the main categories — because it was never submitted for consideration. However, the “Despacito” remix featuring Justin Bieber scored a nod in the separate Song of the Summer category, the winner of which will be announced during the pre-show. Now hasn’t that got you feeling some kinda way?

Check out the complete list of nominees below.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Bruno Mars
Kendrick Lamar
Ed Sheeran
Ariana Grande
The Weeknd
Lorde

BEST NEW ARTIST
Khalid
Kodak Black
SZA
Young M.A
Julia Michaels
Noah Cyrus

BEST COLLABORATION
Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez – “We Don’t Talk Anymore”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli”
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – “Feels”
Zayn & Taylor Swift – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”

BEST POP
Shawn Mendes – “Treat You Better”
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”
Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times”
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm”
Miley Cyrus – “Malibu”

BEST HIP HOP
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Big Sean – “Bounce Back”
Chance the Rapper – “Same Drugs”
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli”
Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert – “Bad & Boujee”
DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne – “I’m The One”

BEST DANCE
Zedd and Alessia Cara – “Stay”
Kygo x Selena Gomez – “It Ain’t Me”
Calvin Harris – “My Way”
Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ – “Cold Water”
Afrojack ft. Ty Dolla $ign – “Gone”

BEST ROCK
Coldplay – “A Head Full of Dreams”
Fall Out Boy – “Young And Menace”
Twenty One Pilots – “Heavydirtysoul”
Green Day – “Bang Bang”
Foo Fighters – “Run”

BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM
Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson – “Black SpiderMan”
The Hamilton Mixtape – “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”
Big Sean – “Light”
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful”
Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley – “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”
John Legend – “Surefire”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Imagine Dragons – “Thunder”
Ed Sheeran – “Castle On The Hill”
DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels – “Nobody Speak”
Halsey – “Now or Never”

BEST DIRECTION
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Alessia Cara – “Scars To Your Beautiful”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

BEST ART DIRECTION
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
Katy Perry ft. Migos – “Bon Appetit”
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
A Tribe Called Quest – “Dis Generation”
KYLE ft. Lil Yachty – “iSpy”
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley – “Chained To The Rhythm”
Harry Styles – “Sign Of The Times”

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Kanye West – “Fade”
Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj – “Side To Side”
Kendrick Lamar – “HUMBLE.”
Sia – “The Greatest”
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane – “Down”

BEST EDITING
Future – “Mask Off”
Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean”
Lorde – “Green Light”
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
The Weeknd – “Reminder”

SONG OF THE SUMMER
“Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber
“XO Tour Llif3” – Lil Uzi Vert
“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” – Shawn Mendes
“Down” – Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane
“OMG” – Camila Cabello ft. Quavo
“Wild Thoughts” – DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller
“Sorry Not Sorry” – Demi Lovato

What about the Video Vanguard Award?

Raise your glass to P!nk, who will be honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award as well as performing her new single, “What About Us,” on Sunday night. The pop star isn’t nominated for any awards this year, but has taken home six Moon People in the past, including Video of the Year in 2001 for the Moulin Rouge! cover of “Lady Marmalade.” Previous recipients of the accolade, the MTV version of a lifetime achievement award, include Rihanna last year, Kanye West in 2015, Beyoncé in 2014, and Justin Timberlake in 2013.

Will Taylor Swift be there?!

If we knew what kind of sneaky surprises Taylor Swift has up her sleeve, we would tell you. But alas, we can only guess at whether she’ll show up for a surprise performance of her new single (or perhaps a public reconciliation with Perry?) — on the stage where she first met Kanye West. Only time will tell if there remains Taylor-shaped blank space in the program, or if the singer fulfills our wildest dreams. One thing we do know: The video for Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” will debut during Sunday’s VMAs, whether Swift herself appears or not.