MTV decimated whatever tiny shred of integrity its annual Video Music Awards show still had when this year's list of nominations were announced. It's not so much the nominees—the usual suspects are present and accounted for (The White Stripes, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Kanye West) and, as always, mediocre videos are being over-praised ("What Goes Around…Comes Around") while other, less popular achievements in the music video medium go unrecognized—but it's the categories that have prompted many to pronounce the video channel's yearly burlesque show completely irrelevant. As if last summer's viewer-decided winners weren't horrendous enough, this year's clusterfuck replaces standard categories like Best Group Video with the more general Best Group (which, in effect, continues to strip MTV of its ties to actual music videos) and trades genre categories for such asinine honors as Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration and Quadruple Threat of the Year. If there's an upside to these radically stripped nominations-gone-wild, it's that the discontinuation of their one-time-only Ringtone of the Year award means that Fort Minor's singular legacy will now remain officially without peer.
Fall Out Boy (Will Win)
Gym Class Heroes
The White Stripes
Sal Cinquemani: Whether this is supposed to be Best Group Making Music in 2007 or Best Group Making Music Videos in 2007 is unclear. What is clear, however, is that you didn't even have to see The White Stripes' videos (or hear their album, for that matter) to know they should win here.
Eric Henderson: I have to assume the nominees aren't decided by viewer votes, because who in the newly gerrymandered VMA age demographic (i.e. ages 7 through My Super Sweet 16) knows who Linkin Park or The White Stripes even are? I'd like to hope this might be one of the few categories where my taste (or possible lack thereof) might overlap with the MTV audience's tastes (or definite lack thereof) and see Gym Class Heroes take a win—even if they are admittedly a tad closer to the Black Eyed Peas than The Roots.
Ed Gonzalez: MTV wouldn't dream of dignifying itself by giving this one to The White Stripes. I say Fall Out Boy will take it, because smut rules and Pete Wentz hasn't been rewarded yet for those nudie pictures he took of himself on his cell phone last year.
Alexa Camp: They should erect, I mean resurrect Ringtone of the Year just for him.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Gym Class Heroes
Peter Bjorn & John
Amy Winehouse (Will Win)
Sal: Wino should be disqualified in this category for entering rehab so early in her career.
Eric: So early? She's like 50 years old, or at least probably appears about that old to most VMA viewers.
Ed: Girl is reinventing the wheel: She not only gets high, but she calls Perez Hilton to tell him about it. She's more ghetto than Pete Wentz.
Sal: Didn't Carrie Underwood's album come out almost two years ago? Maybe the MTV voting bloc was afraid she'd key their cars.
Eric: Yeah, I'm going to side with bad behavior here. I'd say Winehouse's coronation here is as inevitable as Lindsay Lohan's two hours of community service.
FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Beyoncé (Will Win)
Sal: This is a pretty predictable harem. Since actual videos don't seem to be a consideration this year, I wouldn't be surprised if Amy won here. Otherwise the Dutchess would be the heiress apparent of the Female Artist throne since her videos are inexplicably and compulsively watchable. Then again, Beyoncé did release 467 videos this year.
Eric: And one of them was "Ring the Alarm." If Dreamgirls was her ode to Ray, "Ring the Alarm" was her psychotic tribute to Paul Verhoeven. I've never been closer to wanting to rub lotion on her calves. That said, there is the unfortunate matter of "Irreplaceable," so I'll take Rihanna on a roll instead.
Ed: Nelly Furtado and Rihanna have the smallest dicks in this category, so it's probably between them.
MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Justin Timberlake (Will Win)
Eric: Looks ripe for a vote-split to me. Let's hope the winner remembers to thank Daddy Seaver.
Sal: Kanye's presence here is dubious. His, uhhh, late registration in this year's music video derby makes it an honor just to be nominated.
Ed: Because Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake sound like they have vaginas, it's probably between them. But which one's is bigger?
Sal: So the person with the smallest dick wins Female Artist but the person with the biggest vagina wins Male Artist?
Alexa: Makes perfect sense to me. I've seen Justin Timberlake's vagina. Trust me, it's huge.
MONSTER SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Fall Out Boy, "Thks Fr Th Mmrs"
Avril Lavigne, "Girlfriend"
Lil Mama, "Lip Gloss"
Mims, "This Is Why I'm Hot" (Will Win)
Eric: The Mims song leaves out more explanatory details than the Fall Out Boy drops letters.
Ed: Chris Daughtry has a monster ass.
Alexa: Me likey.
Eric: Speaking of monsters, you know what this show is really missing? An award given out to songs (or, if they're feeling adventurous, videos) that haven't been released yet. You know, like when the MTV Movie Awards turned into a big commercial for Transformers?
Sal: So, basically, Best Future Collaboration with Timbaland?
Alexa: Celine Dion. Always go with Celine.
MOST EARTH-SHATTERING COLLABORATION
Akon f/ Eminem, "Smack That"
Beyoncé f/ Shakira, "Beautiful Liar" (Will Win)
Gwen Stefani f/ Akon, "The Sweet Escape"
Justin Timberlake f/ Timbaland, "SexyBack"
U2 f/ Green Day, "The Saints Are Coming"
Alexa: The only thing shattered by "Beautiful Liar" was my hip when I tried to emulate those pelvic thrusts.
Ed: "The Saints Are Coming" doesn't reveal any cracks in Bono's ego, so that one is probably a long shot. Besides, Katrina is so 2006.
Sal: Technically, Katrina is so 2005.
Eric: Wow, Akon's in here twice. So, that's what I guess passes for earth-shattering superstardom, huh? Someone call Al Gore off his soapbox, because the world deserves to fry.
QUADRUPLE THREAT OF THE YEAR
Justin Timberlake (Will Win)
Sal: Is bringing sexy back considered a threat?
Alexa: Maybe it's a promise.
Eric: Now here's a category they should've tried to sneak Lindsay Lohan into.
Sal: I'm not sure driving backwards full-sped at your assistant's mom while high on coke is considered a talent.
Alexa: Not unless you actually hit the mom. Hey, does rehab count? I'm pretty sure she'll have gone four times by the end of the year.
Ed: I did four things this year.
Alexa: And that's not counting the NY Marathon! If you're reading this, sponsor him, bitches!
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z, "Umbrella"
Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around…Comes Around" (Will Win)
Kanye West, "Stronger"
Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"
Eric: Rihanna gets it for performing a pas de deux with a gigantic money shot while wearing virginal white.
Ed: She also gets it for having Jay-Z onboard, assuming there are people still working at MTV who remember that he was robbed in this category for "99 Problems."
Sal: "D.A.N.C.E." is this year's token obscurity. It's crafty and karaoke-friendly!
Eric: Sadly, it was clearly the reason this category was expanded to fit six nominees. Still, I can't watch it and not be preoccupied with the hunch that it was secretly funded by Threadless.com.
Beyoncé f/ Shakira, "Beautiful Liar"
Chris Brown, "Wall to Wall"
Ciara, "Like a Boy"
Justin Timberlake, "My Love" (Will Win)
Sal: I don't mean to get all existential here, but cinematography, which is a prerequisite for any music video to even exist, gets the boot, but choreography is a keeper? I guess it doubles as Best Dance Video, but, as expected, none of these are actual dance songs.
Eric: I imagine Justin is out in front for this award for his uncanny rendition of what Ben Vereen looks like trying to scrape dog shit off the bottom of his soft shoe.
Ed: Ciara should be out in front for her uncanny ability to dance with her back almost horizontal to the floor. Her video is more supernatural than all of the "Thriller"-biting "Wall to Wall."
Alexa: Whatchu mad? Can't handle that?
Christina Aguilera, "Candyman" (Matthew Rolston)
Beyoncé f/ Shakira, "Beautiful Liar" (Jake Nava)
Kanye West, "Stronger" (Hype Williams)
Linkin Park, "What I've Done" (Joe Hahn)
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z, "Umbrella" (Chris Applebaum)
Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around…Comes Around" (Samuel Bayer) (Will Win)
Eric: Samuel Bayer could win for the most over-direction in a music video. And that's no small accomplishment with Hype Williams in the mix.
Alexa: The Linkin Park video is a little unfocused. I think they need to pick one global plight and stick with it. Like Lindsay Lohan's downward spiral.
Sal: Subtlety is not juxtaposing a woman measuring her waist with an emaciated African or synching the beat of your song to a junkie slapping his arm. And kudos to Joe Hahn for the least powerful use of a 9/11 image to date. This video is about as interesting as watching grass grow. Oh, and that's in there too!
Ed: You have to understand that there are people out there who think the video is neat-o for showing them everything that happened in the world since the last time they changed the channel from MTV.
Beyoncé f/ Shakira, "Beautiful Liar" (Jarrett Figl)
Gnarls Barkley, "Smiley Faces" (Ken Mowe)
Linkin Park, "What I've Done" (Igor Kovalik)
Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around…Comes Around" (Hollee Singer) (Will Win)
Kanye West, "Stronger" (Peter Johnson & Corey Weisz)
Ed: I used to splice random shit together back at NYU and cue it to some semi-topical song from the moment and I was never nominated for an MTV award.
Sal: Obviously the editing is the worst part of the Linkin Park video. I predict a Timbersweep in the tech categories.
Ed: The Gnarls Barkley video nails the documentary aesthetic it's going after, but I think J.T. will win for updating the bloat of Celine Dion and Meatloaf videos for Generation Y.
Alexa: I told you. Always bet on Celine.
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.