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Internet Killed The Video Star: Welcome To 2013, MTV VMAs

To roll out the 2013 VMA noms, MTV utilized social media with artistic care.
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The new and improved Moonman for 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

The new and improved Moonman for 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Shannon Carlin
Shannon Carlin Shannon is an associate music producer for Radio.com....
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In honor of this year’s MTV Video Music Awards—their 30th—the bigwigs at the network came up with an elaborate plan to roll out the 2013 nominees that included Twitter, Vine and Instagram.

But was it worth it?

Yesterday, the network tweeted fans to let them know that nominations for the show, taking place on August 25 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, would go live at 8 a.m. EST through Instagram and Vine. It was the first time any show had announced its nominations through a social media platform. But the promo actually started even earlier on Twitter with the hashtag, #RoadToTheVMAs.

A month before the nominations were announced, MTV was posting photos of their new and improved Moonman, re-designed by graffiti artist KAWS to celebrate the big 3-0—in locations through New York City and Brooklyn, á la the traveling gnome of the 2001 French film, Amelie.

The little guy turned up at Coney Island for the annual Mermaid Parade, Bruno Mars’ Brooklyn show and Mets homebase of Citi Field for baseball’s All-Star game, before eventually ending up at the Barclays Center. This drummed up interest for the show and also prepared people for the next step: the nominee announcements via Vine.

Related: The 10 Best Vines By Harry Styles Of One Direction

Throughout the day, MTV has been posting extremely short, silent clips made by visual artist Khoa, revealing the noms for awards like Best Male Video, Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Collaboration and Best Video with a Social Message.

The idea of MTV using videos as a way of promoting themselves shouldn’t seem out of the ordinary, but for a network that for the last decade has spent more time focusing on GTL-ing at the Jersey Shore than music videos, this seems like a push for a relevance. Or perhaps MTV’s move was inspired by four-time VMA winner Kanye West, who created a worldwide art installation to promote his new album, Yeezus.

Kanye’s video projections, which he displayed on buildings all over the world, placed ‘Ye on a higher level and drew him comparisons (mostly his own) to some of the biggest visionaries in the world. He single-handedly helped blur the line between the music world and the contemporary art world. Even Jay-Z was recently seen palling around with performance artist Marina Abramović on the set of his new music video. But most importantly, Kanye’s move garnered him more respect. Even though that didn’t equal higher album sales, fans should see this as a win for everyone involved. Mostly because that means, promotion can be enjoyable without having to be dumbed down for the masses.

Just as Kanye did with his projections, MTV tried to switch up their style by getting a bit more artsy and maybe, improve their reputation. Khoa brought the nominations to life using nothing more high-tech than a little paper, a few markers and a scissor.

Nominees for Video of the Year—this year’s overall leaders Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (both tied with six noms), plus Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke and Taylor Swift—were revealed via a stop-motion video in which the names popped up in a dancing TV set.


The idea of “pop” was highlighted in the Vine for Best Pop Video by bursting balloons that feature the names of the nominees with a letter opener.

And Artist To Watch nominees came to life with a blink of an eye. Literally.

In a press release, MTV boasts that this new campaign has “garnered more than 25 million social media impressions to date including a quarter of a million likes on Instagram, 16 million impressions on Twitter, 8 million impressions on Facebook and 1 million impressions on Tumblr.” But numbers can be fudged so let’s forget those. It’s what people are saying (err, tweeting) that really matters when it comes to the Internet. And some will say this promotional plan was a slick way to attract the young hipster crowd—hello, they’re holding it in Brooklyn this year—but that seems cynical.

Each Vine seems to have been created with the handmade care of an artist. It engages with the Internet-savvy crowd without pandering to them like say, some of MTV’s reality programming. Sure, you can vote for the winner, but these clips really are pieces of art and not just well designed ad copy. At the ripe old age of 30, MTV actually has figured out a way to be cool without sacrificing integrity. We just hope it happens more often.

Check out the full list of nominees for the 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards, airing live August 25 at 9 p.m. EST, below.

Video of the Year
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Bruno Mars, “Locked out of Heaven”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”
Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”

Best Male Video
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Bruno Mars, “Locked out of Heaven”
Ed Sheeran, “Lego House”
Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools”

Best Female Video
Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, “Stay”
Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me a Reason”
Demi Lovato, “Heart Attack”

Best Pop Video
Bruno Mars, “Locked out of Heaven”
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Fun., “Carry on”
Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
Selena Gomez, “Come and Get It”

Artist to Watch, Presented by Taco Bell
Twenty One Pilots, “Holding on to You”
Zedd feat. Foxes, “Clarity”
Austin Mahone, “What About Love”
The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”
Iggy Azalea, “Work”

Best Collaboration
Justin Timberlake, feat. Jay-Z, “Suit & Tie”
Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera, “Feel This Moment”
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me a Reason”

Best Video With a Social Message
Kelly Clarkson, “People Like Us”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Same Love”
Snoop Lion, “No Guns Allowed”
Miguel, “Candles in the Sun”
Beyoncé, “I Was Here”

Best Rock Video
Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
Fall Out Boy, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)”
Mumford & Sons, “I Will Wait”
Thirty Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”
Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young”

Best Art Direction
Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”
Thirty Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N”
Lana Del Rey, “National Anthem”
Alt-J, “Tesselate”

Best Choreography
Chris Brown, “Fine China”
Ciara, “Body Party”
Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull, “Live It Up”
will.i.am feat. Justin Bieber, “#thatPOWER”
Bruno Mars, “Treasure”

Best Cinematography
Thirty Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”
Lana Del Rey, “Ride”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Sacrilege”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, “Can’t Hold Us”
A-Trak & Tommy Trash, “Tuna Melt”

Best Direction
Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, “Suit & Tie”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, “Can’t Hold Us”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Sacrilege”
Fun., “Carry on”
Drake, “Started From the Bottom”

Best Editing
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me a Reason”
Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch, “Sweet Nothing”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, “Can’t Hold Us”
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”

Best Visual Effects
Flying Lotus, “Tiny Tortures”
Skrillex feat. The Doors, “Breakin’ A Sweat”
The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”
Duck Sauce, “It’s You”
Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”

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