Few awards shows thrive on controversy quite like the MTV Video Music Awards. And while the network is betting big on this year's host, Miley Cyrus, to generate a ton of watercooler moments, the show itself has received more than its fair share of press over the years, thanks to disgruntled celebrities.
Stars like Nicki Minaj, Adam Levine, Kanye West and Azealia Banks have all aired their grievances with the VMAs over the years, often offering up expletive-laced criticism of the way nominees and winners are selected. But maybe it's time for a reality check...
By and large, viewers tuning in to the show are looking for wild antics and killer performances. The winners themselves are rarely a highlight of the evening -- nor are we holding our breath to see which A-lister gets custody of a shiny new Moonman. (Because we know that they're all going to Beyonce. Always. Except that one time...) It's not like we're talking about the GRAMMYs here.
But the VMAs do provide an invaluable platform for artists to be seen and, if they can land a slot on the performance bill, potentially secure their place in pop culture history.
"It's a special show for creativity and artistry," VMAs executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic tells ETonline. "It's such an iconic awards show, given its history and what it's meant to pop culture through the years. When you get a slot on the VMAs, it's a big deal. It's a stage where you want to come and express your most imaginative creativity, you want to win the night."
Ignjatovic says the producers' goal with this year's show is to give fans "as much music as humanly possible," and will deliver with nine live sets in under two hours. He promises, "everyone will be talking about this show."
In the meantime, let's look back at the stars who have taken their perceived VMA snubs way too seriously over the years.
Career VMA Nominations: 5
Moonmen Won: 1 (1 pending)
His Beef: In 2004, Maroon 5 took home their first Moonman for "This Love." By 2011, Levine wanted nothing to do with MTV or the VMAs. "the VMA's. one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music. I'm drawing a line in the sand. F--k you VMA's," he famously tweeted. The bad blood didn't last too long, though. The band was nominated for "Payphone" just one year later, and performed their single "Maps" on the VMAs stage in 2014.
Career VMA Nominations: 9
Moonmen Won: 2 (3 pending)
Her Beef: Minaj was grateful for her three VMA noms this year (Female Video, Hip-Hop Video, and Collaboration), but was not pleased to have been shut out of the top category: Video of the Year. "If I was a different 'kind' of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well," she tweeted. "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year." Of course, things didn't end there. Taylor Swift chimed in on the conversation, and then things got really crazy. But all's well that ends well! Ms. Minaj eventually scored a gig as the show-opening performer at Sunday's ceremony.
It's worth noting that Minaj's criticism was meant not just to slam the nominating committee, but to shine a light on a larger issue in pop culture as a whole. For that, we applaud her!
Career VMA Nominations: 34
Moonmen Won: 3
His Beef: Even before he famously stole the mic from Swift, West was caught on camera in 2007 having a meltdown over going home empty-handed. "Five nominations! F**king lost to Black Eyed Peas last year," he raved. "I'm never coming to MTV! ... I ain't f**kin' with this pop s**t, man." This year, he'll accept the biggest honor MTV's got – the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. (Though it's worth noting, despite his whopping 34 career nominations, he only ever won VMAs for "Jesus Walks" -- best male video -- and "Good Life" -- best special effects. Better late than never...?)
Career VMA Nominations: 0
Moonmen Won: 0
Her Beef: "All my videos deserve VMas and my album deserves a Grammy but I'll never get one because America doesn't like opinionated black women," Banks tweeted last month. She also weighed in on Minaj's anti-VMAs rant with: "I just think that EVERYONE in the Pop-sector gets away with being mediocre. So the awards shows just become a mediocrity contest."
Are you tuning in for this Sunday's show? The VMAs air on Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.