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Vulture: Every VMAs Video of the Year, Ranked From Worst to Best


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Full article: Every VMAs Video of the Year Award, Ranked From Worst to Best

By Larry Fitzmaurice

AUG. 20, 2018

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"The MTV Video Music Awards are not, and have never been, a barometer for creative achievement within the artistic realm of music videos. This is not opinion, but plain-as-day fact — proven wholly by the undeniable truth that the late Michael Jackson, undoubtedly a master of the form, never took home the show’s biggest prize of Video of the Year in his career. (For what it’s worth, he was awarded the Video Vanguard prize in 1988, and the award was renamed in his image three years later.)"

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Regardless, the ceremony has occasionally recognized exemplary achievement in the Video of the Year category, even alongside some of its more questionable choices. Digging through the VMAs’ 34-year history is revealing in ways beyond noting who got snubbed over the years, illuminating how the artistic format has developed and/or devolved over time as well as the ever-changing nature of what “Video of the Year” really means in MTV’s eyes. Since 2009, voting for Video of the Year has been in the public’s hands, a popularity-contest move which, regardless, hasn’t stopped the award from being handed to deserving artists like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar; this year’s six nominees include Drake’s “God’s Plan” and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” both statement-making clips in their own right that very well could take home the prize.

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Until we find out who wins tonight, let’s dig in with a little ranking of the Video of the Year winners since 1984, the first VMAs in existence. The following ranking is based purely on quality, taking into account factors ranging from how well certain technological advances have aged to how poorly certain attempts at cultural commentary come off in 2018. Watch along if you like; most of these are on YouTube, and there’s plenty of pleasure to be had — the stultifying effect of the actual VMA ceremony be damned — in bingeing on music videos for hours at a time.

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21. Britney Spears, “Piece of Me” [2008]

 

Justice for “Toxic”! Seriously, it’s crazy that Spears’s most iconic clip from 2004 didn’t take home the prize (although it faced stiff competition in that year’s winner, OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”), and given this single’s placement within Spears’s comeback era, you could argue that awarding Video of the Year to this Wayne Isham–lensed clip is something of a gesture making up for lost time. Its self-effacing musings on the perils of fame are mildly amusing, but done more memorably (quality aside) in the clips for other Spears singles “Lucky” and “Everytime.” No Stephen Dorff, no cred.

 

 

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I mean please

-Britney Spears, "Piece of Me"

 

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