Tunesday: The 2020 VMAs did these ones dirty

Illustration for Tunesday playlist, with a phone, vinyl record, and earbuds
Alexander Hong/Senior Staff

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Each year, pop culture enthusiasts everywhere wait patiently for awards committees to pick and choose their standouts in music, movies, theater and more. Firing up over social media once the inevitably disappointing nominations release is a favored activity of even the least engaged fanatics. The truth is out: Everyone loves a good awards season Twitter rant.

The MTV Video Music Awards announced its 2020 nominations at the end of last month, and, to say the least, many fans were downright aghast. Who is giving Justin Bieber a nomination in 2020? Although we can all look forward to Keke Palmer stunting as host, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande commanding the performance stage and Doja Cat simply existing, we can’t help but recognize the places where the VMAs just went plain wrong. Without further ado, here’s a playlist of the artists who deserve better from the 2020 VMAs (and the music videos you should check out anyway).

“Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles

The world stood still when Harry Styles unexpectedly dropped his hit single “Lights Up” in October, announcing the release of his December album Fine Line. Not only did the record dominate charts for months on end, but it also made impactful waves with fans and first-time listeners alike — because, in all honesty, who could really listen to Harry Styles and not become a fan? 

Not only was Styles robbed of an Artist of the Year nomination, but also “Watermelon Sugar” missed out on Song of the Year, Best Pop and Best Art Direction. The VMAs may have later added the Song of the Summer category, in which “Watermelon Sugar” is finally getting the chance to shine, but sorry, Harry Styles deserves more than an afterthought.

“Me & You Together Song,” The 1975

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to watch the early 2000s unfold within about four minutes, check out this music video. The 1975 has been exploring hyperdefined aesthetics with its latest album, Notes on a Conditional Form, and the visual accompaniment to “Me & You Together Song” is about as close as any of us might get to hearing a song such as “Ocean Avenue” on the radio again.

The avant-garde British group released several experimental music videos alongside the new record, yet the VMAs failed to recognize any of the band’s 2020 impact outside of an also last-minute Best Group nomination. It seems strange to put The 1975 in the same category as groups such as BLACKPINK, considering how different these artists are, but we’ll just sit back and see what happens. 

“Dead Horse,” Hayley Williams

The 2020 VMAs completely sidelined any opportunity to honor Hayley Williams’ budding solo career in this year’s nominations. Her debut record, Petals for Armor, may not have reached the level of fame other nominees hit this past year, but the artistry sown throughout the record, visuals and live performances are worthy enough of at least one recognition. 

“Dead Horse” is one of Williams’ current highest-charting tracks from the record, and the music video is a vulnerable, inventive glance into the mature songstress’s psyche. Shining Madonna meets Yves Tumor with this creation, Williams could have at least been nominated for Best Art Direction.

“Supalonely,” BENEE feat. Gus Dapperton

If you had any proximity to TikTok this year so far, you’ve probably heard this hit track by pop newcomer BENEE. The dance videos by little-shirt-big-pants content creators were unavoidable for months, but this Auckland artist is far more than a one-hit wonder. Her collaboration with Gus Dapperton has one of the brightest, most childlike DIY tones of any music video released this year — perfectly matching the lighthearted spring melody.

The MTV VMAs are streaming live this Sunday. Even though some of these overdeserving artists won’t be getting their names read through the livestream, we’ll all be waiting in anticipation as we continue figuring out what J-Biebs even did this year. 

Skylar De Paul is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.