MTV VMAs 2019: 10 Snubs And Surprises From This Year's Nominations

Including music videos from Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish.

MTV has spoken, and the artists with the most iconic music videos of the last 12 months have now been revealed.

Yes, the nominees for this year’s Video Music Awards have been announced.

Leading the charge ahead of this year’s VMAs are Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, both on 10 nominations each, with teen singer Billie Eilish and Old Town Road star Lil Nas X close behind on nine and eight, respectively.

However, there were a few shocks on the shortlist, whether that was videos we were pleasantly surprised to see had made the cut, or omissions we felt had been snubbed.

Here are our 10 biggest surprises and oversights from the 2019 VMAs...

SNUB - Miley Cyrus

Nothing Breaks Like A Heart/Mother’s Daughter

Like Madonna and Britney Spears before her, Miley Cyrus is pretty much her generation’s queen of the VMAs.

Her all-singing, all-twerking performance in 2013 very much put her on the map, while she later made headlines by highlighting homelessness in the LGBTQ community at the ceremony, performing with a group of elderly backing dancers and rounding up some former Drag Race queens to help her close the show.

She even hosted the VMAs back in 2015, during which time she famously clashed with Nicki Minaj during the ceremony.

It’s interesting, then, that MTV has given Miley precisely zero nominations this year, despite her Mark Ronson collaboration Nothing Breaks Like A Heart being accompanied by one of our favourite clips of 2018, and more recent cut Mother’s Daughter already sparking so much conversation with its feminist message.

SURPRISE - Billie Eilish

Bad Guy

Billie Eilish is having a real moment right now, having topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go, while singles Bury A Friend and Bad Guy have both enjoyed huge success too.

We are a little surprised to see that Bad Guy is the Billie Eilish video that MTV has chosen to recognise at the VMAs, though. Not because it’s not good – it’s certainly striking and the colourful visuals are an interesting change to how we’re used to seeing Billie presented.

However, since its release, Bad Guy director Dave Meyers has been repeatedly accused of plagiarising a shoot by photographers Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, so we’re surprised MTV wouldn’t instead focus on the very effective videos for either Bury A Friend or When The Party’s Over, rather than potentially stoking controversy with a Bad Guy nomination.

SURPRISE - Ariana Grande

Thank U, Next

This one’s more of a pleasant surprise than anything else.

Thank U, Next came out towards the end of 2018, and sadly, videos released longer ago can often be forgotten about by the time the VMAs roll around, so we’re glad to see MTV paying both Ariana Grande and director Hannah Lux Davies their dues for Thank U, Next.

The video was one of our absolute favourites of last year, reimagining teen films Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going On 13 and Legally Blonde with Ariana at the centre of them.

We’re only disappointed the European leg of her Sweetener world tour falls around the time of the VMAs, so a live version of her take on the “bend and snap” is very unlikely.

SNUB - Madonna

God Control

Listen, we get it. The VMAs are about honouring the biggest stars of the last year, and while no one can touch Madonna’s legacy, her recent singles have not exactly set the charts alight.

And while we’ve personally really enjoyed the elaborate videos for Madame X singles Medellín and Dark Ballet, we understand that they haven’t really made much impact in the wider conversation.

But given the conversations around the music video for God Control, which served as Madonna’s plea for more gun regulation in the US and sparked a lot of debate (prompting a response from the Queen of Pop saying this was the exact response she’d hoped for), we’re surprised to see MTV overlooked one of their biggest legacy artists at an event she has put on the map on so many occasions in the past.

SURPRISE - Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber

I Don’t Care

Meanwhile, of all of the collaborations that came out in the last 12 months, MTV was able to make space for this green screen extravaganza, which we can only assume was largely dreamed up as a way to poke fun at the fact that they couldn’t get the two artists involved in the same room together. Great.

SNUB - Katy Perry

365/Never Really Over

Again, we appreciate that 365 wasn’t a chart smash, but there’s no denying that it came along with a great video. The 365 clip casts the singer (and former VMAs host) as an eerily realistic cyborg, who falls in love with a human and goes through a full meltdown when she has her heart broken, and eventually realises that she’s a robot, only to go through the entire process again.

Genuinely, the whole thing felt like a four-minute Black Mirror episode, and Katy Perry deserved an award just for making us feel empathy for a malfunctioning robot.

Later in the year, she debuted the similarly-snubbed Never Really Over, which was once again accompanied by the kind of high-concept videos we’ve come to expect from Katy. And yet, this hasn’t translated to a single VMA nomination, surprisingly enough for an artist who has accrued 30 over the space of her career.

SURPRISE - Rosalía

Con Altura

There’s been buzz around Rosalía for a while (including from us – we named her one of our artists to watch in 2019), but it feels like she’s yet to fully break through to the mainstream, so we were thrilled to see her name on the list of this year’s VMAs nominees.

As well as her much-deserved Best New Artist nod, her J Balvin collaboration is up for Best Latin and Best Choreography, the latter of which will make perfect sense to anyone who’s watched the Con Altura video.

We’d love MTV to take a chance and give her a performance slot too, particularly after she made such an impact at last year’s European Music Awards in Bilbao.

SNUB - Lizzo


We can’t complain too much, as HuffPost fave Lizzo has been recognised in two big categories, Best New Artist and Push Artist Of The Year.

Still, though, given how much joy her Juice music video has brought us since its debut in January (seriously, next time you’re feeling a bit down we guarantee you’ll be right as rain after a watch), it’s a shame that it didn’t manage to rack up any more nominations.

Still, there’s no question that Lizzo is just getting started, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see her dominating the VMAs this time in a year or two.

SNUB - FKA Twigs


FKA Twigs’ output is the definition of “not for everyone”, but when she returned to the music scene earlier this year, we were absolutely stunned by the video she put out for her new song Cellophane.

Whatever your feelings on the track itself, you have to applaud the effort that’s been put into the video, from the impressive pole dancing (we’re particularly big fans of the noise her heels make on that floor, too) leading up to the dreamy and surreal sequences that take all kinds of twists.

The video has been recognised in some of the technical categories (Best Direction, Best Visual Effects and Best Choreography), but we don’t see any reason it couldn’t have been recognised in a more mainstream one too.


Boy With Luv

MTV has made a few changes to the VMAs in 2019, most notably the introduction of a special K-Pop category.

Interestingly, while many have applauded the move, some BTS fans are unhappy, as they feel it’s actually prevented the band from being nominated in other categories for their record-breaking Boy With Luv video.

Although the band has received nods in Best Collaboration and two technical categories, some fans have suggested that because of its impact (including smashing the record for most-watched video on YouTube), it should have been recognised in Video Of The Year, a similar argument put forward by Nicki Minaj when MTV overlooked her Anaconda video in 2015.

This year’s MTV Video Music Awards will take place on August 26.


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