Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The 2020 VMAs will look a little different. Here's what's happening

Illustration for article titled The 2020 VMAs will look a little different. Here's what's happening
Image: Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Yeah, we can absolutely detail the ways that MTV Video Music Awards has lost its luster over the years. (In fact, we have.) But considering that this is one of the first award shows to attempt a live ceremony while a pandemic silently rages on in the background, there’s some understandable curiosity as to how this and similar events will possibly look for the time being. Besides, it’s still managing to deliver some of the more outrageous musical performances in the industry, so we can’t exactly judge anyone for tuning into the 36-year-old. So, if your curiosity is just intense enough to consider tuning in, here’s what you need to know.

When and where to watch

The 2020 VMAs will air live on MTV Sunday, August 30 at 8 PM EST/PST. Prior to that, MTV will attempt to ramp up excitement with its standard pre-show, which begins at 6:30 PM. You can also stream it from MTV.com or the MTV app. All you have to do is sign in with your cable provider information.


Who’s hosting?

Keke Palmer: Veteran actress, burgeoning Instagram sketch comedian, arguably the funniest element of Hustlers.

How exactly will this look?

In Before Times, the VMAs would be preparing to invade Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This year, the show is being held at an outdoor venue in NYC as a way of paying “homage to the incredible resiliency of New York,” per MTV. The network also assures that it has consulted closely with health officials to put on the safest open-air event with a very limited audience. (You hear that, Smash Mouth?) Hey, speaking of performers...


Who’s performing?

The VMA stage is usually a microcosm of pop music’s biggest phenomenons and this year isn’t too different, besides the lack of a singular stage. This time, performances will be scattered across all five NYC boroughs with limited to no audience members. Chloe x Halle, Jack Harlow, Lewis Capaldi, Tate McRae, and Machine Gun Kelly featuring Travis Barker and blackbear will kick things off during the pre-show.


For the main stage(s): Former host Miley Cyrus is returning just after the release of her latest single, “Midnight Sky.” Lada Gaga is also making a return after a 7-year break to link with Ariana Grande for their big mid-quarantine release, “Rain On Me.” Doja Cat and Latin-American boy band CNCO will get their time in the spotlight, as well. The most anticipated performance comes courtesy of BTS, who will stage their record-smashing English-language hit “Dynamite” on TV for the first time. (MTV also appears to have learned from its mistake in previous years by allowing the K-pop juggernauts to compete in the general pop categories alongside all the other major acts.)

Roddy Ricch and J Balvin, who were previously slated to perform, have both pulled out due to “COVID compliance issues.”


Who’s this year’s Video Vanguard honoree?

You tell us! Seriously, please tell us, because MTV still hasn’t revealed this year’s winner, which is a departure from the weeks notice we’ve received in previous years. And after last year’s show-stopping medley from winner Missy Elliott, we’re curious to see how they plan to top that.


Anything else?

EW has a full list of the nominees here, which includes pandemic specific categories like Best Music Video From Home and Best Quarantine Performance. The show will also honor frontline medical workers by showcasing the best musical performances from frontline workers, which is a nice touch.


The A.V. Club will post the list of winners at the end of the show.

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