The VMAs are an odd duck of an awards show. They're trashy to be the Grammys, not family friendly enough to be the American Music Awards, but too long-lived now to be dismissed. MTV's bonkers attempt at putting on an awards spectacle used to feature Male & Female Artists of the year, but last year this changed, and now there is a single "Artist of the Year," currently held by Ed Sheeran. Who will succeed him and hold the title this year? It turns out the 2018 VMAs Artist of the Year is Camila Cabello.
Camila Cabello was a bit of a long shot. Her "Havana" hit number one just ahead of Drake's insanity run, but since then she's been overtaken in the publicity game by the one-two punches of Ariana and Drake. Tonight she came in with five nominations and after not taking any of them for most of the night, it seemed like she might go home empty handed. She finally landed a win with Artist Of the Year, beating out Ariana Grande, Drake, Bruno Mars, and Cardi B.
Ariana Grande was the favored contender for the Artist of the Year throne. She already took home the award for Best Pop tonight. She's done an admirable job getting herself in the public eye ahead of her release of "Sweetener" and staying there, with singles like "No Tears Left To Cry" and "God Is A Woman," which she performed earlier this evening. But in the end, even she couldn't hold back the Havana wave.
Last year was an interesting lineup. Unlike years in the past, the artists listed for Artist of the Year didn't line up with the Video of the Year nominees, even though one might think the categories would coincide. Only three of the Artist of the Year nominees had Video of the Year nominations, and in the end, the "Artist" trophy went to someone without a "Video" nominated. (Kendrick Lamar won for Video of the Year.)
This year things are a little more cut throat. Five of the six nominees have the corresponding Video of the Year nominations: Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, and Drake. Only Post Malone does not have a Video nominated. (Conversely, "Video of the Year" nominations who weren't named for Artist of the Year are The Carters for "APESH*T" and Childish Gambino for "This Is America.")
Drake might have seemed like a shoo-in, but no-show status suggested he heard he wouldn't win. Drake has had a heck of a year for 2018, with no less than three singles hitting the number one spot of the Billboard Top 100, with "God's Plan," followed by the single "Nice For What," which finally traded out for "In My Feelings," which is currently still sitting at Number One as of this evening.
Bruno Mars and Cardi B lifted each other up this year with their remarkable "Finesse" remix and video. But this was such a collaborative effort, it seemed unlikely one would be named Artist of the Year over the other without it feeling somewhat unfair. So congrats to Camila. I suppose fans should start stanning a single named legend.