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Everything you need to know about the 2020 MTV VMAs

MTV VMAs Moon Person
The 2020 MTV VMAs take place on Sunday.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/Associated Press)

Step aside, election coverage and daily news briefings: The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards and their signature Moon Person will be taking over your television this Sunday — and will surely bring the millennial take on the pressing issues of the day.

Here’s what you need to know.

What time is the show and on what channels?

The partially virtual show, which celebrates the best music videos of the year, will air live on MTV at 8 p.m. Eastern. The pre-recorded event will air later on the West Coast at 8 p.m. Pacific.

The show was originally set to air live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but those plans were scrapped earlier this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several outdoor performances will be held around New York with limited or no audience, adhering to all state and city guidelines, MTV said.

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Chloe x Halle
Chloe Bailey, left, and sister Halle Bailey, of the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, are nominated at Sunday’s VMA ceremony.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

“The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021,” the network said. “MTV will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, state and local officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of all involved.”

While the VMAs will air on their flagship cable network, the ceremony will also be simulcast across parent company ViacomCBS’ 11 other brands, making up for the dearth of live-entertainment programming these days. So don’t be surprised when the VMAs show up on BET, BET Her, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV2, Nick at Nite, Paramount Network, Pop, TV Land, VH1 and the CW.

The show’s placement on the CW marks the first time the VMAs will be available to a broadcast audience, MTV said.

Keke Palmer will host MTV’s Video Music Awards virtual ceremony later this month, which will feature performances from BTS, Doja Cat and J Balvin.

A pre-show, hosted by Nessa and Jamila Mustafa, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. It will feature performances from Chloe x Halle, Jack Harlow, Lewis Capaldi, Tate McRae and Machine Gun Kelly featuring Travis Barker and blackbear.

Who is hosting?

Recording artist, TV star and self-proclaimed “millennial diva” Keke Palmer will host the main event. She’s been teasing the emcee gig all week with memorable getups paying homage to VMAs past.

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Who is nominated?

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Pop phenoms Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga top the 2020 VMA nominees with nine nods apiece — including a video-of-the-year nomination for their hit dance collaboration, “Rain on Me.”

Other nominees across 15 categories include Billie Eilish, the Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Chloe x Halle, Drake, Dua Lipa, J Balvin, Justin Bieber, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, BTS, Harry Styles, Roddy Ricch, Post Malone, Future, Karol G and Doja Cat.

These are the nominees in the three marquee categories:

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Video of the year

  • Billie Eilish – “everything i wanted”
  • Eminem ft. Juice WRLD – “Godzilla”
  • Future ft. Drake – “Life Is Good”
  • Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – “Rain on Me”
  • Taylor Swift – “The Man”
  • The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

Artist of the year

  • DaBaby
  • Justin Bieber
  • Lady Gaga
  • Megan Thee Stallion
  • Post Malone
  • The Weeknd

Song of the year

  • Billie Eilish – “everything i wanted”
  • Doja Cat – “Say So”
  • Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande – “Rain on Me”
  • Megan Thee Stallion – “Savage”
  • Post Malone – “Circles”
  • Roddy Ricch – “The Box”

It’s raining nominations for Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me” at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, which will present new categories focused on live performances and music videos created at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Given this year’s unusual performance circumstances, new awards categories have been added to recognize live sets and music videos filmed at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show will also honor healthcare workers in a special segment, “Everyday Heroes: Frontline Medical Workers,” to “celebrate the best performances by first responders — doctors, nurses, and other frontline medical workers — who kept everyone going with their impromptu and off-the-cuff performances,” MTV said.

Who’s performing?

BTS will perform at Sunday's VMAs.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Grande, Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, BTS, CNCO, DaBaby, Doja Cat, Maluma, Roddy Ricch, Miley Cyrus and the Weeknd are set to take the stage.

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Grande and Gaga will perform their duet “Rain on Me,” and the latter is expected to bring her new “Chromatica” album to life, marking the first televised performance of her latest release.

K-pop phenom BTS will be performing on the show for the first time with the TV debut of its all-English new single, “Dynamite.”

Cyrus, of 2013 VMA infamy, is set to debut her new single, “Midnight Sky.”

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Who’s presenting?

  • “Hamilton” star Anthony Ramos
  • Musician Bebe Rexha
  • Supermodel Bella Hadid
  • Actress Drew Barrymore
  • Actor Jaden Smith
  • Actress Joey King
  • Singer and TV personality Kelly Clarkson
  • Musician Machine Gun Kelly
  • Musician Madison Beer
  • Designer Nicole Richie
  • Actress Sofia Carson
  • Musician Travis Barker

And what do we do until showtime?

Once you’ve exhausted all your baking, TikTok-ing and tie-dying in quarantine, you can relive the greatest (and not-so-great) moments from VMA history with MTV’s “Road to the VMAs” marathon.

The festivities kicked off Friday morning and lead right up to showtime on Sunday. The marathon includes performances by Jay-Z, Swift, Ricky Martin, Lil Nas X, ‘N Sync, Rage Against the Machine, Britney Spears, Lizzo and Bad Bunny.

Rebroadcasts of the 1999, 2000 and 2019 shows will also be shown.


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