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Video Music Awards nominees and editors’ picks

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Best Video with a Message

Demi Lovato


Directed by Mark Pellington

Demi Lovato is barely out of her teens (she turned 20 on Aug. 20) but already creating success for herself. Lovato was first seen on Barney and Friends, and later appeared in other children’s projects including Sonny with a Chance.

Lovato released her first album Don’t Forget in 2008, the same year she appeared with the Jonas Brothers in Camp Rock. In 2011, she released Unbroken.

She is now acting as a judge on The X-Factor alongside Britney Spears.

Gym Class Heroes f/Ryan Tedder

“The Fighter”

Directed by Marc Klasfeld & Nico Sabenorio

The Gym Class Heroes formed in 1997 in Geneva, New York. They are known for their ability to meld different genres together. Two of the members met in high school gym class, giving them their name.

In 2003, the band caught the attention of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, and they were signed to the Fueled by Ramen label Decaydance.

The label released The Papercut Chronicles shortly after.

In 2009, the band decided to take a break, with its members working on other projects. They reunited in 2011 the The Papercut Chronicles II.

They won the “Best New Artist” Video Music Award in 2007.

Kelly Clarkson

“Dark Side”

Directed by Shane Drake

No matter what she does, Kelly Clarkson will probably always be known as the very first American Idol.

Raised in Texas, Clarkson won the competition singing show in 2002. She had moved to LA after high school to pursue her dream but was working part-time jobs before American Idol came along.

In 2003, after winning the show, Clarkson released Thankful followed by Breakaway a year later. She has released three more albums since then and sold tens of millions of records worldwide.

K’Naan f/Nelly Furtado

“Is Anybody Out There?”

Directed by Chris Robinson

K’Naan was born in Somalia and when he was younger, his father was in America and would send him hip-hop records. When he was 13, the family made the move to Harlem. In 1999, he performed at the United Nations 50th Anniversary Concert.

The Somalian-born rapper got his first shot at fame when his song was used during the 2010 World Cup.

Lil Wayne

“How to Love”

Directed by Chris Robinson

Lil Wayne got his start much earlier than most. When he was 11 years old, he joined Cash Money Records in the group the B.G’z.

In 1997, he took on his new name. His real name is Dwayne but wanted to drop the D to separate himself from an “absent father,” MTV said. He joined the group the Hot Boys, along with B.G., Juvenile and Young Turk.

In 1999, Lil Wayne released his debut solo album Tha Block is Hot. Lil Wayne has since released nine albums, including 2012’s I Am Not a Human Being II.

Rise Against

“Ballad of Hollis Brown”

Directed by Nico Sabenorio

Rise Against is a band from Chicago that formed in 1999. The band released two albums on Fat Wreck Chords before being signed to a major label in 2003 and later released Siren Song of the Counter Culture.

In 2006, their album the Sufferer and the Witness debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 150. In 2011, they released their album Endgame.

Our pick

Kelly Clarkson

Nobody says sweet innocent girl like Kelly Clarkson. And when it comes to a song with a message, Clarkson is a pro. From her beginnings on American Idol, she really became America’s sweetheart. Even if people don’t listen to the lyrics, Clarkson always gives off the feeling that life is OK. And so she deserves to win this one.

Video of the Year

Drake f/ Rihanna

“Take Care”

Directed by Yoann Lemoine

Drake is a 25-year-old Canadian singer. He started his career as an actor on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but on the side began releasing mixtapes. The project turned into his full time job and he signed to Lil Wayne’s record label.

He released an EP in 2009 that hit the Billboard 150, and then recorded his first full-length studio album in 2010.

Drake has also written songs for Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx, among others. He also played Ethan in Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Gotye f/Kimbra

“Somebody That I Used to Know”

Directed by Natasha Pincus

Gotye was born in Belgium and raised in Australia. He joined the band Downstares, and in 2003 released his solo electronic album Boardface. In 2011, he released Making Mirrors, which features the duet with Kimbra, “Somebody I Used to Know.”

The song hit the Billboard Hot 100 and Rock song charts.

Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris

“We Found Love”

Directed by Melinda Matsoukas

Barbados native Rihanna, 24, moved to the United States when she was 16 to pursue her singing career. She quickly signed to Def Jam Records and released her debut album Music of the Sun in 2005. She released her next album A Girl like Me less than a year later, which included the single, “SOS.”

To date, she has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has more than 100 million digital song downloads. Her latest album, Talk That Talk, was released in November 2011.


“Bad Girls”

Directed by Romain Gavras

M.I.A. is a Lithuanian female artist. She was born in London and has lived in Sri Lanka and Madras, India.

In 2007, M.I.A. released her album, Kala, which included the hit “Paper Planes,” which was used in the trailer for Pineapple Express. Her music was also used in the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.

In May, the singer signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management.

Katy Perry

“Wide Awake”

Directed by Tony “Truand” Datis

Katy Perry grew up in Southern California and has been pursuing a music career since high school. She released two albums before signing with Capitol Records in 2007.

In 2008, she released One of the Boys and the single, “I Kissed a Girl.” The song was her first mainstream hit and her followup singles, “Hot and Cold” and “Waking Up Vegas” came later.

In 2008, Perry set out on the Warped Tour, where she was alongside then-boyfriend Travie McCoy, lead singer of Gym Class Heroes. They broke up in 2008, the same year she met Russell Brand. The two eventually married, but were divorced in 2012.

In 2010, Perry released her album Teenage Dream which included the songs “California Gurls” and “Last Friday Night.”

In 2012, she released her movie, Part of Me.

Our pick

Drake and/or Rihanna

With the amount of news and success they’ve garnered this year, Drake and/or Rihanna are bound to win a lot this year. Drake was allegedly in a bar brawl with Chris Brown earlier this year over Rihanna, so their song together makes it even more interesting. The two are newsmakers, but more important, they’re both talented musicians. The video is a simple one, but sometimes that’s what it takes.

Together, the two singers have sold millions of albums, and people seem to be pulling for Rihanna this year.

Best Electronic Dance Music Video



Directed by Petro

Calvin Harris

“Feels So Close”

Directed by Vincent Haycock

Duck Sauce

“Big Bad Wolf”

Directed by Keith Schofield

Martin Solveig

“The Night Out”

Directed by Tristan Seguela & Martin Solveig


“First of the Year (Equinox)”

Directed by Tony Truand

Our pick


While we’d like to say there is competition here, there may not be much. Skrillex seems to be the end of all for electronic music in the past year and both Skrillex fans and From First to Last (his former band) fans alike will be online voting.

Up next: More Video Music Awards nominees and editors’ picks >>

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