The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards is headed to Newark (aka Brick City) this year, with an all-star lineup of musical performers, five new categories, including a trio of fan-voted award categories, and comedian-turned-actor Sebastian Maniscalco serving as Master of Ceremonies.
The red carpet will feature performances by Ava Max, Megan Thee Stallion, and La Banda alum CNCO. Taking the stage inside the auditorium will be Taylor Swift (who along with Ariana Grande leads all nominees with 12 each), Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, Bad Bunny, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Rosalia and J Balvin, the Jonas Brothers, and this year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard winner, Missy Elliott.
But that’s just the first wave of performers that was announced. In an effort to drag out the free PR machine for as long as possible, MTV announced on Tuesday a second slate of singers who’ll be taking the stage in Newark: H.E.R., Normani, Ozuna, and Big Sean with A$AP Ferg.
The two videos with the most nominations are Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down and Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road with seven apiece and going head-to-head in five categories: Best Editing, Art Direction, Direction, Song of the Year, and Video of the Year, and Song of the Summer. The contrast couldn’t be more stark: the young out-of-nowhere gay black man sampling an 11-year-old Nine Inch Nails song with country star Billy Ray Cyrus riding shotgun vs. the slick veteran blonde pop superstar. Given that Old Town Road has been #1 longer than any song ever, you’d think it’d be a slam dunk to win Song of the Year and Summer, at the very least. But then, strange things happen at the VMAs when Swift finds herself pitted against seemingly more popular competition.
As one would expect from such an august awards ceremony, the presenters is a veritbale who’s who of pop culuture stardom, including Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, and Ashlyn Harris from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Billy Ray Cyrus, Hailee Steinfeld, Ice-T, John Travolta, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Lenny Kravitz, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, New Jersey Devils star P.K. Subban, Rick Ross, Salt-N-Pepa, and Super Bowl Champion Victor Cruz. And those are just the ones that I’ve heard of.
The new categories this year are Best K-Pop and Video for Good (Previously Video with a Message), Best Group, Best Power Anthem, and Best Song of Summer, with the latter three being decided by fans via Instagram. And they say social media is bad for democracy.
MTV is also adding a new lifetime achievement award, MTV Fashion Trailblazer Award, in recognition of fashion designers who have made an indelible impact within the world of musical artist fashion. The inaugural trophy will be presented to Marc Jacobs, who has throughout his career dressed the likes of Cher, Missy Elliott, Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.
Catch all the spectacle of the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards 8pm ET Monday on MTV.