Right about now, this year's VMA nominees for Best New Artist are probably starting to get nervous. A victory could catapult them to a long career. A loss could seriously hurt their career momentum. Yeah, right. Having just studied the list of winners and losers, here's my advice: This year's nominees (fun. featuring Janelle Monae, Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean, One Direction and The Wanted) should just relax and enjoy the party. If they win, great. If not, it's not the end of the world.
Don't get me wrong: Many great artists have won the award through the years, including Guns N' Roses, Eminem and Lady Gaga. But just as many have lost.
The VMA winner for Best New Artist isn't always the act that has gone on to have the greatest success or impact at MTV. In 1984, Eurythmics beat Madonna, who has gone on to collect 19 VMA Awards, more than any other artist. (She has also received their Video Vanguard award.)
In 1986, one-hit wonders a-ha ("Take On Me") beat Whitney Houston and Pet Shop Boys.
In 1994, Counting Crows beat Green Day and Beck. Green Day has gone on to win 11 VMA awards. Beck has won six.
In 2008, Tokio Hotel beat Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Both women somehow survived the setback.
Four future winners of MTV's Video Vanguard Award weren't even nominated for Best New Artist when they were eligible: Bon Jovi (whose first album was released in 1984, the first year of the awards), LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and, perhaps most surprising, Britney Spears.
Still, an award's an award. If you're nominated, you want to win.
Jepsen is vying to follow her mentor (and fellow Canadian pop star) Justin Bieber, who won the award two years ago. Two other Canadian artists have won the award over the years: Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne.
Ocean is vying to become the second member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future to win in as many years. Tyler, The Creator won last year.
One Direction and The Wanted are both vying to become the first boy bands to win the award.
Just three artists, Hootie & the Blowfish, Alicia Keys and Maroon 5, have won both the VMA for Best New Artist and the Grammy in that category. Keys beat British artist David Gray in both competitions. Maroon 5 beat Kanye West in both showdowns. (Now you know why West is so prickly about awards.)
The two shows will probably crown different winners again this year. One Direction appear to be the favorites at the VMAs, with Jepsen a possible spoiler. The critically-lauded Ocean is probably the front-runner in the Grammy competition. (Grammy nominations will be announced on Dec. 11.)
The two shows have different eligibility periods, and different sensibilities. The Grammys cover all genres, while the VMAs focus on pop, rock and hip-hop.
Neither show has had a monopoly on wisdom. The VMA winners list for Best New Artist includes 15 acts who weren't even nominated for the Grammy in that category, including such giants as Guns N' Roses, Eminem and Lady Gaga. (Gaga was ruled ineligible because she was nominated for a track the year before the release of her first album.)
The Grammy list of winners includes 14 acts who weren't even nominated for the VMA award, including such big names as Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and Adele.
Twice, two acts have competed head-to-head at the two shows, with different acts winning in each case. In 2000, Macy Gray won the VMA, while Christina Aguilera won the Grammy. In 2003, 50 Cent won the VMA, while Evanescence won the Grammy.
Surprisingly, two hip-hop artists won the Grammy for Best New Artist before a hip-hop artist took the prize at the VMAs. Arrested Development won the Grammy for 1992. Lauryn Hill won for 1998. In 1999, Eminem became the first hip-hop winner at the VMAs. Three other hip-hop artists, 50 Cent, Gym Class Heroes and Tyler, The Creator, have since won the VMA award.
Here's some VMA trivia for you.
In 1984, Cyndi Lauper competed against herself with two different videos, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and "Time After Time." That helped Eurythmics scoop up the prize for "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)." (That was the only time an artist had two videos in the running.)
Michael Penn and Aimee Mann, who married in 1997, are the only couple where both spouses have won VMA Awards for Best New Artist. Mann won as part of 'Til Tuesday in 1985 for "Voices Carry." Penn won in 1990 for "No Myth."
A less harmonious couple, Chris Brown and Rihanna, were both nominated for the award the same year (2006). They lost to Avenged Sevenfold.
Two future American Idol judges, Paula Abdul and Jennifer Lopez, were VMA finalists for Best New Artist. So were three former Idol winners: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks.
Many second-generation stars have been nominated for Best New Artist, including Julian Lennon (son of John Lennon), Whitney Houston (daughter of Cissy Houston), Jeff Buckley (son of Tim Buckley), The Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan (son of Bob Dylan) and Miley Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus).
Here's a complete list of VMA winners for Best New Artist. I also show whether the act was nominated or not nominated in the Grammy race for Best New Artist.
1984: Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)." Grammy: Nominated.
1985: 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry." Grammy: Not nominated.
1986: a-ha's "Take On Me." Grammy: Nominated.
1987: Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over." Grammy: Not nominated.
1988: Guns N' Roses' "Welcome To The Jungle." Grammy: Not nominated.
1989: Living Colour's "Cult Of Personality." Grammy: Not nominated.
1990: Michael Penn's "No Myth." Grammy: Not nominated.
1991: Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now." Grammy: Not nominated.
1992: Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Grammy: Not nominated.
1993: Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush." Grammy: Not nominated.
1994: Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones." Grammy: Nominated.
1995: Hootie & the Blowfish's "Hold My Hand." Grammy: Won.
1996: Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." Grammy: Nominated.
1997: Fiona Apple's "Sleep To Dream. Grammy: Nominated.
1998: Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." Grammy: Nominated.
1999: Eminem's "My Name Is." Grammy: Not nominated.
2000: Macy Gray's "I Try." Grammy: Nominated.
2001: Alicia Keys' "Fallin'." Grammy: Won.
2002: Avril Lavigne's "Complicated." Grammy: Nominated.
2003: 50 Cent's "In Da Club." Grammy: Nominated.
2004: Maroon 5's "This Love." Grammy: Won.
2005: The Killers' "Mr. Brightside." Grammy: Not nominated.
2006: Avenged Sevenfold's "Bat Country." Grammy: Not nominated.
2007: Gym Class Heroes. Grammy: Not nominated. (Note: The VMAs dispensed with identifying the nominated videos this year.)
2008: Tokio Hotel's "Ready, Set, Go!" Grammy: Not nominated.
2009: Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." Grammy: Not nominated.
2010: Justin Bieber's "Baby" (featuring Ludacris). Grammy: Nominated.
2011: Tyler, The Creator's "Yonkers." Grammy: Not nominated.