Nicki Minaj, Anaconda, VMAs, music video

Why Nicki Minaj Doesn’t Need A VMA Nomination For ‘Anaconda’

The nominations for the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards were announced on July 21st.

Will Nicki Minaj win a VMA? Tune in on August 30th to find out!

Like with any awards show, there were some obvious choices (Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” picked up seven nominations), some odd omissions (Ariana Grande was relegated to the Best Collaboration category), and some curious inclusions (Justin Bieber is a legitimate contender in three of the technical categories as a guest vocalist on Skrillex and Diplo’s “Where Are U Now”). But for the most part, the nominations were boring, safe, and expected, setting up a relatively bland year for MTV’s flagship awards show….

.…until Nicki Minaj took to Twitter.

Nicki Minaj scored two nominations, for Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video, with her “Anaconda” music video (plus an additional nomination as part of “Bang Bang,” in the Best Collaboration category). However, Minaj felt that she was being wrongly snubbed by the channel for a Video of the Year nomination, and she took to Twitter to vent her frustrations.

Taylor Swift took one of the tweets personally and the resultant firestorm saw shots fired by Minaj, Swift, Katy Perry, and (in a mock feud), even Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. Without meaning to, Minaj drummed up a frenzy of excitement that has everybody talking about the VMAs; in that sense, Minaj is already a winner.

But if Minaj is actually serious (and this is not some clever way of marketing herself), her tweets miss the mark.

For starters, being nominated for (or even winning) Video Music Awards wouldn’t add much to the legacy of “Anaconda,” anyway. This is largely because “Anaconda” front-loaded its accolades: The video set a one-day streaming record of 19.6 million views, which helped the song blast to a #2 peak on the Hot 100 (Minaj’s highest charting song to date). The video’s legacy was therefore cemented within a week of the song’s release. An award-show-induced sales boost now, nomination or not, would be icing on the cake, but would add nothing significant to the song and video’s impressive resume.

But more importantly, being nominated for Video of the Year isn’t important, because the VMAs were conceived as a sort of youth-oriented alternative to the Grammys; subsequently, they have taken on a ridiculous and almost flippant nature. Because of this, some of the most iconic videos of all time (“Freedom ‘90″ by George Michael, “Black or White” by Michael Jackson, “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears) never won Moonmen. The VMAs were designed to celebrate the moment, not to celebrate art.

Also, the Video of the Year category is especially notorious for crowning the “wrong” video (the good, as opposed to the legendary) as the winner. This trend started at the very first ceremony, back in 1984, when the Cars’ “You Might Think” beat Michael Jackson’s seminal “Thriller.” While the Cars’ video was a landmark in synthesizing computer animation with the music video format, it can’t hold a candle to the status that “Thriller” has accumulated over the years.

Similarly, in 1990, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” video was great, but it was not in the same league as Madonna’s “Vogue”; MTV recognized this in 1999 when they compiled their 100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made List. “Vogue” was #2; “Nothing Compares 2 U” was down at #34.

And while Van Halen’s video for “Right Now” was a brave artistic leap for a band who traditionally relied on rock cliche imagery in their videos, it obviously had nowhere near the resonance of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, which it beat, in 1992.

In other words, the Video Music Awards are not a true indicator of “the best” when considering a video’s long-term legacy. Sure, a VMA is fun to win, but instead of indicating greatness, they act more like relics of their time.

Miley Cyrus, pictured here at the 2013 VMAs with Robin Thicke’s terrible suit

Of far more importance is a show-stealing performance at the VMAs. As Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress in 1984, Britney Spears’ stripteasing in 2000, and Miley Cyrus twerking her way to infamy in 2013 can tell you, a note-worthy performance at the VMAs is much more important to an artist’s long-term career trajectory than a nomination, or even a win.

Minaj already performed “Anaconda” at last year’s VMAs, so she should focus on securing a performance slot this year and launching a new single (and herself) into pop ubiquity.

It should also be pointed out that Minaj has won two VMAs over the years, so at this point in her career, she should really be more concerned about winning a Grammy (of which she has won none, despite six nominations, including one for “Anaconda” for Best Rap Song).

So was Minaj right to complain that “Anaconda” didn’t receive a Video of the Year nomination? Probably not. However, because the video was already a hit for her, and because the VMAs are not designed to reward actual greatness, she needn’t worry about the snub.