Year after year, the VMAs are the can’t-miss television event for entertainment junkies and music critics alike. They’ve also become the go-to stage for celebrities to publicly begin career-spanning feuds with each other. Did ya know that this year’s show marks the 10th anniversary of Kanye West’s infamous “I’mma let you finish” speech directed at Taylor Swift?
With the spotlight on controversy, it can be easy to forget the VMAs truly exist to honor the most talented, game-changing, and hard-working artists in music and their show-stopping music videos.
Female powerhouses Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift top the list with ten nominations each, and will compete for “Video of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” “Best Pop,” “Best Direction,” “Best Visual Effects,” “Best Editing,” “Best Art Direction,” and “Best Cinematography.” Pop newcomer Billie Eilish is up for nine categories this year, with Lil Nas X collecting eight nominations for his smash hit “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus. To view the full list of nominees, click here.
While we wish everyone can get a piece of the hardware, there is only one winner in each category and the CS team is weighing in on this year’s nominees (and snubs) by sharing our thoughts on who we think will bring home a famous moon person during the live telecast on Monday.
Keep scrolling to see our winner predictions for the 2019 MTV VMAs and let us know your thoughts by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @celebsecrets.
Video of the Year
NOMINEES: 21 Savage Ft. J. Cole “a lot,” Billie Eilish “Bad Guy,” Ariana Grande “thank u, next,” Jonas Brothers “Sucker,” Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus “Old Town Road” (Remix), Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Only in our wildest dreams did we think we’d ever again see Taylor Swift and Jonas Brothers going head to head in the same category at an award show, but thanks to JB’s surprise comeback this year, it’s happening and it’s one of the most exciting things the 2019 VMAs have given us thus far. While we’d love to see ‘em both win (or snag a three-way tie with Ariana Grande for her nostalgia-packed “thank u, next” video), we say T-Swift takes this award home. You just really can’t beat those vibrant pops of color, cameos from half of Hollywood, a positive LGBTQ message, and Tay’s former-foe Katy Perry dressed as a hamburger.
Artist of the Year
NOMINEES: Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Halsey, Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Honestly, ANY of these super-talented artists could walk away with Artist of the Year in hand. They’ve all had huge years — from comebacks to major collabs with other artists to record-breaking album sales. But if we had to choose, we’d go with Ariana Grande. The girl released not one, but two albums in the past year, headlined Coachella and Lollapalooza, and became the third female artist ever (following Mariah Carey and Britney Spears) to have multiple number-one debuts. Love her or hate her, Ari’s got this one in the bag.
Song of the Year
NOMINEES: Drake “In My Feelings,” Ariana Grande “thank u, next,” Jonas Brothers “Sucker,” Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper “Shallow,” Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus “Old Town Road (Remix),” Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: As much as we’d love to see a deep, meaningful song like “Shallow” or “In My Feelings” win, we gotta give this one up to Old Town Road. The track, that seemingly came out of nowhere earlier this year, not only became the biggest genre crossover song in years, but it also dethroned Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” as the longest-running number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. And just admit it: the line, “I got the horses in the back,” has been stuck in your head since early 2019. We think Lil Nas X is gonna take this one.
Best New Artist
NOMINEES: Ava Max, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Rosalia
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: The competition within this category is pretty fierce, but there’s one artist that stands just a little bit above the rest — and her name is Billie Eilish. While so many of these nominees had stellar first years in the limelight, Billie is the only one who put out multiple singles that reached true mainstream success. With mega-hits like “lovely” featuring Khalid and “Bad Guy” all over Top 40 radio, the 17-year-old phenom has totally dominated the last year in music.
NOMINEES: Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus “Old Town Road” (Remix), Lady GaGa & Bradley Cooper “Shallow,” Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello “Senorita,” Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco “ME!”, Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber “I Don’t Care,” BTS ft. Halsey “Boy With Luv”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Is it just us, or are musical collabs so much better when there’s a little romance brewing behind the scenes? Now that we all know Bradley Cooper and Lady G aren’t an item after all (she’s recently been spotted getting cozy with Dan Horton, her monitor engineer. Womp womp.) all eyes are on the new are-they-or-aren’t-they couple, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. Their maybe-love happened to coincide with their super-steamy duet, “Senorita,” which has been soaring to the tops of most pop charts the past few months. We don’t know if Shawn is the one for Camila or not, but we do know “Senorita” is the one for this category’s Moon Man.
Push Artist of the Year
NOMINEES: Bazzi, CNCO, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Lauv, Lizzo
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: The Push Artist category is a new one, having only debuted at 2018’s show. Nominees are chosen from the batch of emerging musicians MTV picks as their monthly Push artists throughout the year. Last year, Hayley Kiyoko beat out frontrunner Cardi B, and if this year follows suit, we think artist-to-beat Billie Eilish might take the fall to H.E.R. In the two years since her 21-track debut album, H.E.R. has released songs with Ed Sheeran, Chris Brown, Khalid, Ella Mai, and Bryson Tiller, and has put out two EPs in the last year alone. Her voice fits just as well on hip hop and R&B songs as it does on pop and singer-songwriter tacks, and she’s gained major momentum in 2019. We think this award is hers (get it?)
NOMINEES: 5 Seconds of Summer “Easier,” Cardi B & Bruno Mars “Please Me,” Billie Eilish “Bad Guy,” Khalid “Talk,” Ariana Grande “thank u, next,” Jonas Brothers “Sucker,” Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: First off, the noms in this category are a bit confusing. As much as we love them all, it’s hard to consider Jonas Brothers and 5 Seconds of Summer straight-up pop (we like to say they’re pop-rock) while songs like “Please Me” and “Talk” definitely have more of an R&B vibe. But regardless of the surprising nominees, the stans that call themselves Arianators are a force to be reckoned with, so we think AG is gonna steal this one with her name-dropping earworm and the chick-flick-inspired video to match.
Best Hip Hop
NOMINEES: 2 Chainz ft. Ariana Grande “Rule the World,” 21 Savage ft. J.Cole “a lot,” Cardi B “Money,” Dj Khaled ft. Nipsey Hussle & John Legend “Higher,” Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus “Old Town Road” (Remix), Travis Scott ft. Drake “SICKO MODE”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Tracks like “Old Town Road” and “SICKO MODE” took the hip hop scene by storm this year thanks to their catchy hooks and unprecedented beats, but for the same reason we think Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” will take home Video of the Year, we have a feeling Cardi B’s “Money” may just win Best Hip Hop. Sure, the rap track is fun to sing along with in the car, but it’s message of women empowerment is what makes it so special. In the video, Cardi encourages women to be financially independent as she maneuvers some pretty bomb aerial tricks, without using a stunt double. Oh, and she also finds time to cradle and take care of baby Kulture in the video, too. Cardi B’s killin’ it in life, and we’re pretty sure she’ll do the same at the VMAs.
NOMINEES: Anderson .Paak ft. Smokey Robinson “Make it Better,” Childish Gambino “Feels Like Summer,” H.E.R. ft. Bryson Tiller “Could’ve Been,” Alicia Keys “Raise a Man,” Ella Mai “Trip,” Normani ft. 6lack “Waves”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Some say it’s the year of Normani — and if this were, say, the 2012 VMAs, our bet would be on the former Fifth Harmony member’s collab with 6lack. The video’s dreamy CGI effects, the sexy ‘fits that drape Normani’s body, and repeated eye contact with the viewer are enough to intrigue even the most casual of fans. But this is 2019, and in 2019, minimalism and meaning are the ticket — which is exactly why Alicia Keys’ “Raise a Man” will win. In the video, a fresh-faced Keys plays the piano, seemingly to herself in a luxe Manhattan apartment, only to later reveal more than a dozen people quietly listening and jamming along. Keys then dances with a young boy (possibly the “man” the song title refers to) and gets down with the other people in the apartment. The video depicts people of seemingly different backgrounds having a human experience together. And isn’t that what music, and the year 2019, are all about?
NOMINEES: BTS ft. Halsey “Boy With Luv,” BLACKPINK “Kill This Love,” Monsta X ft. French Montana “Who Do You Love,” TOMORROW X TOGETHER “Cat & Dog,” NCT 127 “Regular,” EXO “Tempo”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Even if K-Pop isn’t really your vibe, you had to have been living under a literal rock to have not heard about the utter BTS pandemonium that has swept not only the nation, but the entire world this year. And not only that, but the South Korean boy band’s jam, “Boy With Luv,” has the whole package: poppy synth beats, a rap break, and American chart-topping queen Halsey to provide a few lines in English to the otherwise Korean-sung song. With the power of BTS’ and Halsey’s fanbases combined, we say “Boy With Luv,” can’t lose.
NOMINEES: Anuel AA, Karol G “Secreto,” Bad Bunny ft. Drake “MIA,” benny blanco, Tainy, Selena Gomez, J Balvin “I Can’t Get Enough,” Daddy Yankee ft. Snow “Con Calma,” Maluma “Mala Mia,” ROSALIA & J Balvin ft. El Guincho “Con Altura”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: While every artist in this category brought it in 2019, and though we have mad respect for Drake learning and singing multiple verses in Spanish on “MIA,” the VMA categories come down to video execution — which is why we think “I Can’t Get Enough” is gonna win. Featuring four major artists who’ve all found success in both English- and Spanish-speaking markets, this video scores major points in the re-watchability department. Selena Gomez, J Balvin, and Tainy bouncing around on a giant bed in their PJs somehow manages to be just as entertaining as benny blanco sporting a teddy bear suit — plus, the whole thing was shot in one take. Pretty impressive if you ask us!
NOMINEES: The Chainsmokers ft. Bebe Rexha “Call You Mine,” Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato “Solo,” DJ Snake, Seleba Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B “Taki Taki,” David Guetta, Bebe Rexha & J Balvin “Say My Name,” Marshmello & Bastille “Happier,” Silk City & Dua Lipa “Electricity”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: Sure, we enjoyed Demi Lovato’s vocals on ultra-catchy “Solo,” and yes, The Chainsmokers always provide the bops, but there was something slightly magical about Selena Gomez’s teamup with Cardi B on “Taki Taki” late last year. They’re the duo we never knew we needed, until Selena’s sultry, whisper-like vocals followed Cardi’s feisty rap and showed us “Taki Taki” was lowkey a feminist anthem. Ozuna’s continuous praise of a beautiful, unnamed lady throughout the song only further supports our argument.
NOMINEES: The 1975 “Love It If We Made It,” Fall Out Boy “Bishop’s Knife Trick,” Imagine Dragons “Natural,” Lenny Kravitz “Low,” Panic! At the Disco “High Hopes,” twenty one pilots “My Blood”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: While some categories are total nail biters, we don’t feel that this year’s Best Rock category is one of them. That being said, we’d be shocked if anyone other than Panic! At the Disco took this Moon Man home. “High Hopes” climbed the pop, rock, and even children’s charts since it’s release in 2018, and its inspiring message to never give up on your dreams, no matter how big, just makes us root for it even harder. Besides, that disorienting, gravity-defying music video is totally original and deserves some recognition.
Video for Good
NOMINEES: Halsey “Nightmare,” The Killers “Land of the Free,” Jamie N Commons & Skylar Grey ft. Gallant “Runaway Train,” John Legend “Preach,” Lil Dicky “Earth,” Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down”
WHO WE THINK WILL WIN: While we’d love to see an underdog like The Killers or Lil Dicky take home a VMA this year, we gotta hand it to Taylor Swift — “You Need to Calm Down” was a good video. So much so that we think it may win both Video of the Year and Video for Good. And honestly, how could any of the other noms compete? Lil Dicky’s “Earth” may come close with its inclusion of over a dozen celebs on the track, but the lyrics are nothing groundbreaking, and, truthfully, it loses a few points for the animated factor. Taylor’s video, on the other hand, features celebrities in the flesh, and clever lyrics referencing Pride parades, the GLAAD organization, and the toxicity surrounding cancel culture. Don’t get us wrong — we have major love for the positive messages behind all six of these songs and their accompanying videos, but “You Need to Calm Down” is simply the most fun to watch and listen to.