5 artists who don't deserve their 2020 VMA nominations — sorry

cahlgrim@businessinsider.com (Callie Ahlgrim)
·5 mins read
Justin Bieber took home a VMA in 2015, when "Where Are Ü Now" won best special effects.
Justin Bieber took home a VMA in 2015, when "Where Are Ü Now" won best special effects.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

  • The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced on Thursday.

  • Justin Bieber was nominated for artist of the year, despite releasing an underwhelming album and lackluster singles.

  • Bieber's "Intentions" and Taylor Swift's "Lover" are out of place in the best pop category.

  • Drake, Future, and Eminem were undeservingly nominated for video of the year (for "Life Is Good" and "Godzilla," respectively).

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nominations for the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards were announced Thursday afternoon.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga led the pack with nine nods apiece, largely thanks to their smash collaboration "Rain On Me," while Billie Eilish and The Weeknd followed with six each. 

A few people, however, received undeserved praise — or were nominated in categories that didn't make sense, taking spots from worthy artists who were snubbed.

Five artists with questionable nods are listed below, in no particular order.

Justin Bieber shouldn't have been nominated for artist of the year.

The video for "Yummy" was released on January 4, 2020.
The video for "Yummy" was released on January 4, 2020.

Justin Bieber/YouTube

Justin Bieber's new album "Changes" was deeply underwhelming, and its lead single "Yummy" wasn't nominated for any VMAs. So why was Bieber himself nominated for artist of the year?

Given that his strongest chart performance and highest acclaim this year was thanks to "Stuck With U," a song that Ariana Grande fully carried on her back, it doesn't make sense to recognize Bieber as one of the leading voices in music right now.

This feels like a nomination he didn't earn, rather one he was handed based on legacy alone.

"Intentions" didn't deserve a nod for best pop, either.

The video for "Intentions" was released on February 12, 2020.
The video for "Intentions" was released on February 12, 2020.

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"Intentions" is a fairly catchy song and its video is, conceptually, one of Bieber's best — but it would have made way more sense for best collaboration, or even best R&B.

Considering how many excellent pop songs were snubbed by MTV this year, "Intentions" filling that coveted spot feels even more undeserved.

Taylor Swift's "Lover," while a spectacular song, also feels out of place in the best pop category.

The video for "Lover" was released on August 22, 2019.
The video for "Lover" was released on August 22, 2019.

Taylor Swift/YouTube

"Lover" is one of Taylor Swift's best songs ever. Normally, I'd never dream of saying it doesn't deserve awards or acclaim.

However, its nomination for best pop doesn't sit quite right.

The music industry has a long history of classifying female artists' genre-fluid music as "pop," simply because they don't know what else to call it — and "Lover" seems like the latest victim of that tradition.

Additionally, "Lover" feels out of place in this year's slate of candidates, considering its parent album was highly praised at last year's ceremony and Swift has already released another (better) album since then.

"Lover" is a timeless song, but in terms of an award show's life cycle, it feels like old news next to its fellow nominees.

The beautiful video certainly deserves its nod for best art direction and would've felt at home in the best cinematography category, too. But I would've much preferred to see "Watermelon Sugar," "Motivation," "Physical," or another underappreciated pop anthem take its spot in the best pop category.

Drake and Future didn't need a video of the year nomination for "Life Is Good."

The video for "Life Is Good" was released on January 10, 2020.
The video for "Life Is Good" was released on January 10, 2020.

Future/YouTube

As you might expect, "Life Is Good" expertly capitalizes on the strengths of rap's biggest stars: Drake offers his characteristic one-liners and cocky, punchy delivery; Future slides through his own sections with lithe, hypnotic ease.

It's a great song, and easily one of the best hip-hop collaborations of the year.

That said, the video is almost too self-aware.

It's clearly designed for the Twitter meme mill, which is a strategy that's worked for Drake in the past — but I'm not convinced that treading familiar terrain is the most interesting way forward.

Additionally, the premise of the video is frustrating if you think about it for too long.

To be fair, "Life Is Good" was released in January, a few months before the coronavirus got out of control and everyone decided to (metaphorically) eat the rich.

But now, watching two of music's richest men pretend to be mediocre middle-class workers — when many of the people in those very jobs are having the hardest times of their lives — feels a little insulting.

In a year that's been defined by a global pandemic and financial crisis, "Life Is Good" didn't need a video of the year nomination.

Eminem's "Godzilla" is another undeserving video of the year contender.

The video for "Godzilla" was released on March 9, 2020.
The video for "Godzilla" was released on March 9, 2020.

Lyrical Lemonade/YouTube

Compared to the majority of Eminem's most recent album, "Godzilla" is a highlight. Many critics have praised his rapid-fire delivery, and it's become one of his most popular songs of the last few years.

Much of that success is likely thanks to featured artist Juice WRLD, who tragically died from an accidental overdose in December. "Godzilla" marked the late rapper's first posthumous performance, and the music video is dedicated to his memory.

"Godzilla" definitely deserves its nod for best hip-hop, and an additional nomination for best collaboration would've been an appropriate way to honor Juice WRLD's contribution.

But is "Godzilla" the video of the year? Certainly not.

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