Entertainment

The 2016 VMAs: What to Know and How to Watch

Published On 08/28/2016 Published On 08/28/2016
mtv vmas, video music awards, moonman
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The 33rd MTV VMAs kicks off in a few hours, with promises of Bad Girl RiRi, Britney Spears, and at least four minutes of unfiltered Kanye West. The night is supposed to be about honoring music videos and artists' accomplishments within the medium, but that's not entirely why people watch.

Yeah, this is the aging-but-still-necessary pop-culture shindig with all the Moonmen. It's also the one that provides memorable live performances and spontaneous moments. (Recall: this is the awards show that gave us the Yeezy-Swift feud and the Miley-Nicki tiff.) "Hotline Bling" has already been nominated more times than it should have (see below), so with that as an omen, fresh viral highlights and lowlights loom.

If you didn't properly plan for this thing -- like your friend's weird potluck that you forgot was happening, oh, shit yeah, tonight -- don't worry. We have you covered:

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How to watch everything

Red carpet arrivals start at 6:15pm ET, followed by a DJ Khaled-hosted pre-show at 8pm. The main event goes live at 9pm, inside New York's Madison Square Garden. If you're not one of the special souls on site, you can watch all that via MTV's cable channel.

MTV2, BET, VH1, Comedy Central, CMT, Spike, Logo, and TV Land will also air the telecast, and you can stream the festivities gratis on MTV's smartphone app and VMA website. Afterward, MTV will hold a Facebook Live post-show for those who have not gone catatonic.

Who's performing

This year's VMAs notably marks Britney Spears' return to the stage; her latest album, Glory, dropped Friday. Others include Rihanna, Future, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, Nick Jonas and Ty Dolla $ign, and The Chainsmokers and Halsey. Alessia Cara, Jidenna, and Lukas Graham will perform as part of the pre-show, outside MSG.

Who else to look for

There won't be a traditional host this year. Instead: Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (as their characters @LizardSheeple and @TheShamester, respectively) are serving as masters of ceremonies. Khaled, Jay Pharoah, and Nicole Byer will help as roving correspondents. 

Members of the U.S. Olympic squad, including Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman, are coming to present awards. Jimmy Fallon, Kim Kardashian West, Ansel Elgort, Diddy, Shameik Moore, and Fifth Harmony will also lend a hand with the hardware. 

More unannounced presenters, performers, and guests, per MTV, could still appear. (Cross your fingers for Taylor Swift, and check the video up top for a sneak peek at the seating chart.)

Remember the nominees?

Didn't think so:

Best New Artist

  • Bryson Tiller
  • Desiigner
  • DNCE
  • Lukas Graham
  • Zara Larsson

Song of Summer

  • "Cheap Thrills," Sia
  • "Kill 'Em With Kindness," Selena Gomez
  • "Closer," The Chainsmokers, feat. Halsey
  • "This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris, feat. Rihanna
  • "All in My Head (Flex)", Fifth Harmony, feat. Fetty Wap
  • "Cold Water," Major Lazer, feat. Justin Bieber and MØ
  • "Bacon," Nick Jonas, feat. Ty Dolla $ign
  • "Don't Mind," Kent Jones
  • "Can't Stop the Feeling," Justin Timberlake
  • "One Dance," Drake, feat. Kyla and Wizkid

Video of the Year

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Hotline Bling," Drake
  • "Sorry," Justin Bieber
  • "Famous," Kanye West

Best Female Video

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Into You," Ariana Grande
  • "Hold Up," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Work," Rihanna, feat. Drake
  • "Cheap Thrills," Sia

Best Male Video

  • "Don't," Bryson Tiller
  • "This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris, feat. Rihanna
  • "Hotline Bling," Drake
  • "Famous," Kanye West
  • "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd

Best Hip Hop Video

  • "Watch Out," 2 Chainz
  • "Don't," Bryson Tiller
  • "Angels," Chance the Rapper, feat. Saba
  • "Panda," Desiigner
  • "Hotline Bling," Drake

Best Pop Video

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Wild Things," Alessia Cara
  • "Into You," Ariana Grande
  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Sorry," Justin Bieber

Best Rock Video

  • "Missing You," All Time Low
  • "Adventure of a Lifetime," Coldplay
  • "Irresistible," Fall Out Boy, feat. Demi Lovato
  • "Victorious," Panic! at the Disco
  • "Heathens," Twenty One Pilots

Best Electronic Video

  • "The Girl Is Mine," 99 Souls, feat. Destiny's Child and Brandy
  • "Summerthing," Afrojack, feat. Mike Taylor
  • "How Deep Is Your Love," Calvin Harris and Disciples
  • "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," Mike Posner
  • "Don't Let Me Down," The Chainsmokers, feat. Daya

Best Collaboration Video

  • "Let Me Love You," Ariana Grande, feat. Lil Wayne
  • "Freedom," BeyoncĂ©, feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • "This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris, feat. Rihanna
  • "Work From Home," Fifth Harmony, feat. Ty Dolla $ign
  • "Work," Rihanna, feat. Drake

Breakthrough Long-form Video

  • "Lemonade," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Royalty," Chris Brown
  • "The Odyssey," Florence + the Machine
  • "Purpose: The Movement," Justin Bieber
  • "Blue Neighborhood Trilogy," Troye Sivan

Best Art Direction

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Hold Up," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Blackstar," David Bowie
  • "Hotline Bling," Drake
  • "M.I.L.F.$," Fergie

Best Choreography

  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Sorry," BeyoncĂ©
  • "M3LL155X," FKA Twigs
  • "Delilah," Florence + the Machine
  • "WTF (Where They From)," Missy Elliott, feat. Pharrell

Best Direction

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Up&Up," Coldplay
  • "Lazarus," David Bowie
  • "The Less I Know the Better," Tame Impala

Best Cinematography

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "I Wanna Know," Alesso
  • "Into You," Ariana Grande
  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Lazarus," David Bowie

Best Editing

  • "Hello," Adele
  • "Into You," Ariana Grande
  • "Formation," BeyoncĂ©
  • "Lazarus," David Bowie
  • "M.I.L.F.$," Fergie

Best Visual Effects

  • "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," Adele
  • "Up&Up," Coldplay
  • "M3LL155X," FKA Twigs
  • "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
  • "Pillowtalk," Zayn

Misc. things of importance

Thrillist will provide further updates and live commentary about the VMAs throughout the night. Get your Twitter fingers ready, start praying for free Yeezys, and join us.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment, and is already counting down the minutes until Kanye Time. Find him on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald.

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