NEW YORK, July 26, (Agencies) : MTV has rid itself of gender-specific categories as the network revealed nominees Tuesday for this year’s Video Music Awards, in which rapper Kendrick Lamar is in the lead.
In the age of President Donald Trump and the fierce backlash he has generated among cultural leaders, MTV also announced a new category of “Best Fight Against the System” to recognize activist music.
The awards will air worldwide from Los Angeles on Aug 27. Reflecting its social media push, the music and youth culture network announced the nominations through posts by well-followed figures on Instagram.
Lamar, one of the most acclaimed figures in hip-hop, received the most nominations at eight, including Video of the Year for “HUMBLE.”
Tied for second with five nominations are Katy Perry for her sci-fi amusement park fantasy “Chained to the Rhythm” and The Weeknd for his star-studded “Reminder.”
The Video Music Awards for the first time will not divide by gender with a new Artist of the Year prize incorporating the top male and female categories.
The network said in a statement that it was out to “break barriers” and had a positive response when it eliminated gender groups at this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards.
Nominees for Artist of the Year include four men — Lamar and The Weeknd, along with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran — and two women, Ariana Grande and Lorde.
Virtually all major US awards including the Grammys and Oscars have separate male and female categories.
The rare awards that mix male and female nominees include the Mercury Prize — which, with an arthouse sensibility, recognizes the top British or Irish album each year — and the Juno Awards for Canadian artists.
Winners in the major categories are determined by voting by fans through the awards’ website, vma.mtv.com.
The Video Music Awards have usually been more about the spectacle than the ultimate winners, with the network gladly offering a global platform to celebrities.
Pop culture moments of past galas have included Lady Gaga wearing a dress of raw meat, Madonna making out on stage with Britney Spears and Beyonce showing off a baby bump for her first child with Jay-Z.
But taking a serious turn, MTV announced the new “Best Fight Against the System” award to celebrate videos “that inspire viewers to stand up and fight injustice.”
The nominees include John Legend’s “Surefire,” whose video dramatizes anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, and the celebratory “Immigrants: We Get the Job Done” from the blockbuster musical “Hamilton.”
Other nominees are the diversity-hailing “Black SpiderMan” by biracial rapper Logic, Big Sean’s “Light” about overcoming adversity including racial discrimination and Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful” about body image.
Also in the running is “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL,” a hip-hop anthem led by Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo to rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe on environmental and cultural grounds.
Nominees for Best New Artist — often a sign of fast-rising stardom — were R&B singers SZA and Khalid, rappers Kodak Black and Young M.A., pop songwriter Julia Michaels and Noah Cyrus, the 17-year-old actress and sister of Miley Cyrus who is readying her debut album.
List of nominees
Video of the year: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) Bruno Mars — “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records) Alessia Cara — “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam) DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller — “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best) The Weeknd — “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records)
Artist of the year: Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records) Kendrick Lamar (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) Ed Sheeran (Atlantic Records) Ariana Grande (Republic Records) The Weeknd (XO/Republic Records) Lorde (Republic Records)
Best new artist (Presented by Taco Bell): Khalid (RCA Records) Kodak Black (Atlantic Records) SZA (TDE/RCA Records) Young M.A (3D) Julia Michaels (Republic Records) Noah Cyrus (Records)
Best collaboration: Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez — “We Don’t Talk Anymore” (Atlantic Records) DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller — “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best) D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty — “Broccoli” (Atlantic Records) The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey — “Closer” (Disruptor Records/Columbia Records) Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean — “Feels” (Columbia Records) Zayn & Taylor Swift — “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) ” (Republic Records)
Best pop: Shawn Mendes — “Treat You Better” (Island Records) Ed Sheeran — “Shape of You” (Asylum/Atlantic Records) Harry Styles — “Sign Of The Times” (Columbia Records) Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane — “Down” (Syco Music/Epic Records) Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley — “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records) Miley Cyrus — “Malibu” (RCA Records)
Best hip hop: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) Big Sean — “Bounce Back” (Def Jam) Chance the Rapper — “Same Drugs” (Chance the Rapper LLC) D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty — “Broccoli” (Atlantic Records) Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert — “Bad & Boujee” (300 Entertainment) DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne — “I’m The One” (Epic Records/We The Best)
Best dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara — “Stay” (Interscope) Kygo x Selena Gomez — “It Ain’t Me” (Ultra/Interscope) Calvin Harris — “My Way” (Columbia Records) Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MO — “Cold Water” (Mad Decent) Afrojack ft. Ty Dolla $ign — “Gone” (Wall Recordings/Latium/RCA Records)
Best rock: Coldplay — “A Head Full of Dreams” (Parlophone/Atlantic Records) Fall Out Boy — “Young And Menace” (Island) Twenty One Pilots — “Heavydirtysoul” (Fueled by Ramen/Atlantic Records) Green Day — “Bang Bang” (Warner Bros. Records) Foo Fighters — “Run” (RCA Records)
Best fight against the system: Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson — “Black SpiderMan” (Def Jam) The Hamilton Mixtape — “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) ” (Atlantic Records) Big Sean — “Light” (Def Jam) Alessia Cara — “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam) Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley — “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”John Legend — “Surefire” (Columbia Records)
Best cinematography: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Scott Cunningham) Imagine Dragons — “Thunder” (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope) (Matthew Wise) Ed Sheeran — “Castle On The Hill” (Asylum/Atlantic Records) (Steve Annis) DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels — “Nobody Speak” (Mass Appeal Records LLC) (David Procter) Halsey — “Now or Never” (Astralwerks/Capitol) (Kristof Brandl)
Best direction: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Dave Meyers & the little homies) Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley — “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records) (Mathew Cullen) Bruno Mars — “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records) (Cameron Duddy & Bruno Mars) Alessia Cara — “Scars To Your Beautiful” (Def Jam) (Aaron A) The Weeknd — “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Glenn Michael)
Best art direction: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Spencer Graves) Bruno Mars — “24K Magic” (Atlantic Records) (Alex Delgado) Katy Perry ft. Migos — “Bon Appetit” (Capitol Records) (Natalie Groce) DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller — “Wild Thoughts” (Epic Records/We The Best) (Damian Fyffe) The Weeknd — “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Creative Director: Lamar C Taylor / Co-creative Director: Christo Anesti)
Best visual effects: Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Company: Timber/Lead: Jonah Hall) A Tribe Called Quest — “Dis Generation” (Epic Records) (Company: Bemo/Lead: Brandon Hirzel) KYLE ft. Lil Yachty — “iSpy” (Atlantic Records) (Company: Gloria FX/Leads: Max Colt & Tomash Kuzmytskyi) Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley — “Chained To The Rhythm” (Capitol Records) (Company: MIRADA) Harry Styles — “Sign Of The Times” (Columbia Records) (Company: ONE MORE/Lead: Cedric Nivoliez)
Best choreography: Kanye West — “Fade” (Def Jam) (Teyana Taylor, Guapo, Jae Blaze & Derek ‘Bentley’ Watkins) Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj — “Side To Side” (Republic Records) (Brian & Scott Nicholson) Kendrick Lamar — “Humble.” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) (Dave Meyers) Sia — “The Greatest” (Monkey Puzzle Records/RCA Records) (Ryan Heffington) Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane — “Down” (Syco Music/Epic Records) (Sean Bankhead)
Best editing: Future — “Mask Off” (Epic Records/Freebandz/A1) (Vinnie Hobbs of VHPost) Young Thug — “Wyclef Jean” (300 Entertainment/Atlantic Records) (Ryan Staake & Eric Degliomini) Lorde — “Green Light” (Republic Records) (Nate Gross of Exile Edit) The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey — “Closer” (Disruptor Records/Columbia Records) (Jennifer Kennedy) The Weeknd — “Reminder” (XO/Republic Records) (Red Barbaza)