Yes, it's true!!! The MTV Video Music Awards are back for 2021, and it's safe to say the hype for this year's proceedings are at an all-time high.
Making a return to the Barclays Center in New York City, this year sees Justin Bieber and Megan Thee Stallion led nominations with seven and six nods respectively, while Billie Eilish, Drake, Lil Nas X, BTS, Olivia Rodrigo and the night’s host, Doja Cat, are also looking to add to their award cabinets this September.
Coveted awards aside, we all know that the real highlight of the VMAs comes courtesy of the performers, and with that in mind, we're in for a treat with this year's line-up. From Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X through to Machine Gun Kelly and beyond, here's our guide on what to expect from every artist locked in to perform at the 2021 MTV Music Video Awards.
A previous VMA winner herself, Camila Cabello is set to make her return to the Barclays Center this September to perform her stellar new song "Don't Go Yet". The beloved Fifth Harmony expat has previously won four VMA trophies – including Video of the Year for her 2018 hit "Havana" – and will attend the evening alongside boyfriend Shawn Mendes, who is also slated to perform this year.
Best known as one half of sister duo Chloe x Halle, Chlöe will take to the 2021 VMAs to treat crowds to the inaugural performance of her soon-to-be-released solo debut "Have Mercy". Fans of the sisters have been hanging out for Chlöe to go solo for a hot minute now, and considering she only announced the song earlier this August, it's fair to say that the hype is very high for this performance: file this one in the unmissable category.
As if receiving five VMA nominations (including Artist of the Year and Video of the Year) and hosting the damn event wasn't quite enough, Doja Cat has is also performing at this year's awards. Doja delivered one of the most raved-about performances at the 2020 VMAs, and she'll be looking to capitalise on her onscreen exposure this year as she looks to play out her new album Planet Her on the big stage.
Considering that Foo Fighters have been named as the recipients of this year's MTV Global Icon Award, it should only seem right that Dave Grohl and co. should grace the stage at the 2021 VMAs, with the band being one of the most awaited performers of the night. Strap yourselves in for a dose of high-octane guitar-slinging action from one of the best modern rock groups to ever do it!
He’s the most nominated artist of the evening, and now it’s confirmed Justin Bieber will be taking the stage to perform at the Barclays Center this September as well. It’ll be a huge moment of the night, marking the first time Biebs has taken to the VMA stage since 2015. While we don’t know exactly what hits he’ll be playing, he’s spoiled for choice – he’s got “Stay” with our very own The Kid LAROI, his own VMA-nominated track “Peaches”, and recent collabs with Skrillex and Wizkid just to name a few.
Making her MTV VMA debut in 2021, modern country queen Kacey Musgraves is set to deliver a rendition of her brand new single "Star-Crossed" to a packed-out New York VMA crowd this month. With a new album dropping just days prior to the VMAs, many are tipping Musgraves to deliver a must-see performance, and we can't wait to tune in ourselves.
Lil Nas X
In my opinion, Lil Nas X is gearing up to absolutely dominate the MTV Video Music Awards in 2021. "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" is up for an impressive five VMA nominations, and if recent live performances are anything to judge by, it seems a given that Lil Nas X will bring the heat to the Barclays Center for his performance. Details are scant so far, but with his debut album Montero arriving just days after this year's awards, I'd say the prospect of hearing new music is very, very likely.
Machine Gun Kelly
Rap-turned-rock bad boy Machine Gun Kelly has enjoyed quite the pivot into his new pop-punk persona as of late, and he'll be looking to make the most of that traction this year by performing a spirited rendition of his latest song, the Travis Barker-assisted "Papercuts". He'll also be looking to achieve back-to-back VMA wins, with his single 'My Ex's Best Friend (feat. blackbear)' being a hot favourite to take the cake in the Best Alternative category – could 2021 be the year that Machine Gun Kelly finally reigns supreme?
You probably don't need any reminding, but 2021 has been a very, very good year for Olivia Rodrigo. Despite facing stiff competition from the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish and BTS, the teen sensation is up for five award nominations at the 2021 VMAs, including Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Push Performance of the Year and Best Pop. On top of all that, she will be looking to make a mean first VMA impression with a blistering performance of her track "Good 4 U".
Canadian heart throb Shawn Mendes will make his return to the VMAs stage in 2021 to perform his latest single “Summer Of Love”, unveiled just days after his 23rd birthday last month. Having stolen the show at the 2019 awards with a steamy duet of "Señorita" alongside girlfriend Camila Cabello, Mendes is certainly no stranger to the MTV awards, and with Cabello also in the pipeline to perform her latest hit “Don’t Go Yet”, we wouldn't be surprised if a reprise was in order.
Twenty One Pilots
Last but not least, Twenty One Pilots will also make their hotly awaited return to the VMAs this year to perform their latest cut "Saturday". The Ohio group is also nominated in the Best Alternative category for their track "Shy Away", where they'll be looking to beat out the likes of Bleachers, Glass Animals, Imagine Dragons, Machine Gun Kelly and Willow to take home their third Moon Person since 2016.
Note: Unfortunately, Lorde is no longer appearing at this year’s VMAs.
This is an opinion piece written by Will Brewster, a Melbourne-based writer and producer. Follow him on Twitter @_willbrewster.