When MTV descends on Miami on Aug. 28 for the annual Video Music Awards, it will bring a seemingly endless lineup of rappers, rockers, teeny boppers and even Killers.
Which might make you think MTV still shows music videos.
While the Music Television network long ago refocused on original programming, those three-minute bursts of camera crooning are finding new life on Web sites like IFilm.com and Yahoo’s Launch. And recent reports that videos could be coming to iPods might make videos a consumer product in their own right.
But in the meantime, MTV still needs to hand out those awards. Here’s a prediction of who will take home the bling — and who SHOULD win.
BEST FEMALE VIDEO
Nominees: Amerie, “1 Thing”; Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together”; Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”; Shakira featuring Alejandro Sanz, “La Tortura”; Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone.”
Will Win: Gwen Stefani in a cheerleading outfit will beat just about anything.
Should win: Missy Elliot is the undisputed queen of the hip-hop video. Her clip for “Lose Control” is as jerky and incomprehensible as anything she’s done before. She looks like a cover to an old Funkadelic album — especially when buried neck-deep in sand. Honorable mention to the dive bar performance of “Portland, Oregon” by Loretta Lynn and Jack White. You’ve got to give it up to the real-life version of Harold and Maude.
BEST MALE VIDEO
Nominees: 50 Cent, “Candy Shop”; Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”; Beck, “E-Pro”; Usher, “Caught Up”; John Legend, “Ordinary People.”
Will Win: The smart money is on Kanye, but (like Maroon 5 at the Grammys) West may again get upset by a skinny white guy — this time courtesy of Beck, whose digital “E-Pro” is like “Beck: The Video Game.” Sonic the Hedgehog, look out.
Should Win: John Mellencamp’s “Walk Tall” — and not just because anybody who once took a deadly feline for his middle name deserves an award. Actor Peter Dinklage stars in the black-and-white version of a prejudiced 1950s where height — not race — is the basis of discrimination.
BEST GROUP VIDEO
Nominees: Black Eyed Peas, “Don’t Phunk With My Heart”; The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”; Destiny’s Child featuring T.I. & Lil’ Wayne, “Soldier”; U2, “Vertigo”; Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
Will Win: Destiny’s Child. Beyonce and the gang aren’t looking for a Marine, but a tough dude who “carries big things” and may or may not own a Doberman.
Should Win: Everybody loves to see geeks score hot chicks, but rarely has the match been taken to such extremes. In Weezer’s “Beverly Hills,” the bespectacled band and a hundred of their fans party it up at the Playboy Mansion. But if Charlie Sheen and Fred Durst are welcome at Hef’s house, why not Rivers Cuomo?
BEST RAP VIDEO
Nominees: Eminem, “Just Lose It”; T.I., “U Don’t Know Me”; The Game & 50 Cent, “Hate It Or Love It”; Ying Yang Twins, “Wait (The Whisper Song)”; Ludacris, “Number One Spot.”
Will Win: Ludacris as Austin Powers in “Number One Spot.” He’s as funny as Eminem is angry.
Should Win: How about Mase’s “Welcome Back”? Who missed P. Diddy’s mumbling sidekick? Well, nobody. But the now Christian Ma$e nevertheless returned with a sunny “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”-style vid that was more fun than any other rap video.
BEST HIP-HOP VIDEO
Nominees: Common, “Go”; Nas featuring Olu Dara, “Bridging The Gap”; Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”; Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, “Drop It Like It’s Hot”; Missy Elliott featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, “Lose Control.”
Will Win: Forgetting the possible overlap between having both hip-hop and rap categories, this one goes to “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” It’s really just Snoop and Pharrell in black and white groovin’ to their beat and clicking their tongues, but the minimalism matches the sparse song.
Should Win: Common’s video for “Go” might be the smoothest of the year. Filmed with a Jay-Z “Big Pimpin”’-style white letterbox, it’s full of retro browns and whites and cool digital transitions.
BEST R&B VIDEO
Nominees: Alicia Keys, “Karma”; Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together”; Ciara featuring Ludacris, “Oh”; Usher & Alicia Keys, “My Boo”; John Legend, “Ordinary People.”
Will Win: Usher and Alicia Keys. Their back and forth vocals are the ’00s answer to Positive K’s “I Got a Man.”
Should Win: Alicia Keys is great and all, but she’s a little too earnest, too well-meaning for a contemporary R&B crooner. Give me R.Kelly. Or Prince. They’re plenty weird. The Artist’s “Cinnamon Girl” also might have been the only genuinely thought-provoking video in the past 12 months. It stars Keisha “Whale Rider” Castle-Hughes as a girl contemplating terrorism.
BEST ROCK VIDEO
Nominees: Foo Fighters, “Best of You”; My Chemical Romance, “Helena”; Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”; Weezer, “Beverly Hills”; The Killers, “Mr. Brightside.”
Will Win: The band of the year, Green Day. The group walks down a downtrodden street, superimposed (like actors driving cars in old movies) to show their disconnect to America.
Should Win: Modest Mouse is the best band you only recently heard of. One of the top indie bands of the past decade, they broke through last year with “Float On” — but their more memorable video was “Ocean Breathes Salty.” Isaac Brock plays a wounded crow temporarily nurtured back to health by a young boy. It seems the perfect role for Brock, who sings, “You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste the afterlife?” Perhaps the only clip this year to inexplicably give you a lump in your throat.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Coldplay, “Speed of Sound”; Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”; Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”; Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, “Drop It Like It’s Hot”; Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl.”
Will Win: Kanye West. No other video was even close to as audacious as West’s fury of slavery, chain gangs and crucifixes. Though his martyrdom is something to behold, it’s nevertheless unforgettable. Besides, after the Grammy dis, Kanye might hurt somebody if he loses again.
Should Win: While many bands opt to make cartoon videos simply because it means less work for them, it’s the whole point for the Gorillaz. The virtual hip-hop group’s “Feel Good Inc.” achieves what almost no music videos do: a marriage of song and visual — even if the flying windmill seems a copy of famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s “Moving Castle.”
But let’s face it. The video of the year wasn’t in the running, even though it’s been seen on MTV hundreds of times — the singing and dancing silhouettes of the iPod commercials have been the best marriage of music and video on television.