If you’re older than 25, you might feel out of touch while watching the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday night. You may find yourself confused by what the presenters and performers are saying and singing. Is Iggy Azalea some kind of vegetation? Is Bruno Mars a place you might like to visit? These are just some of the questions you may find yourself asking.
Thankfully, good old-fashioned Web browsing can provide insight into what young people like these days, from a safe distance. To help you in your cultural explorations, we’ve curated a multimedia docket for all the nominees in all the top VMA categories. Do a little pregame research before tuning in on Sunday, and you’ll have a better grasp on what’s going on.
Video of the Year
Justin Timberlake: “Mirrors”
Professional handsome person Justin Timberlake has amassed successes in music, TV, and film. His latest album, The 20/20 Experience, has managed to move more than 2 million copies in the digital era. The album’s second single, “Mirrors,” garnered a VMA nod for best video of the year. The video is a mostly Justin-free, sprawling epic depicting love through the ages (Timberlake himself doesn’t appear until after the 5:45 mark to show off a few dance moves down a mirrored corridor—very Twin Peaks style).
For more: Check out Justin’s tunes on Spotify and Soundcloud. On Twitter, he's @jtimberlake. Of course he’s on Facebook, and on YouTube as well. For additional background, see his personal site or his Wikipedia page.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz: “Thrift Shop”
You may have seen his smirking freckles-and-all face on the cover of this month’s Rolling Stone. But rapper Macklemore is much more than a pretty-ish face. The Seattle native has found a way to marry progressive Pacific Northwestern values with a cold hip-hop flow in the anticonsumerist saga “Thrift Shop.” The track is the first of many hits off his independently released album The Heist. (Warning, this catchy hook may stay in your brain, for weeks. Weeks!)
For more: You can follow rapper Macklemore and DJ Ryan Lewis on Spotify and on Soundcloud. On Twitter you can get more Macklemore (@macklemore) and more Ryan Lewis, too (@RyanLewis). Macklemore has an official Facebook page, and Ryan Lewis has a bounty of new content on his YouTube channel. For some background you can see Macklemore’s official site.
Bruno Mars: “Locked Out of Heaven”
I really want to hate on Bruno Mars, but I can’t. This song was annoyingly everywhere a few months back. Even if you don’t know it, you know it—the tune was playing in every store and café you entered. Despite the dour lyrical content, the party-themed video can’t help but put you in a good mood.
For more: You can get more Bruno Mars music at Spotify, and read some of his Twitter-length thoughts (@BrunoMars). See what he’s up to on Facebook, check out his official YouTube channel, and, for more background, visit his official site or his Wikipedia page.
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell: “Blurred Lines”
This megahit was the song of the summer. It’s catchy, sexy, and undoubtedly the reason many babies will come into the world. We’ve included the “clean” version of the video above.
For more: You can follow Mr. Thicke at Spotify, or get some thought sneezes from Robin on Twitter (@robinthicke). Rapper T.I.’s Twitter handle is @tip, and hitmaker Pharrell’s is @Pharrell. Robin is also on Facebook. You can see all his past videos on YouTube or check out Thicke’s official site and Wikipedia entry.
Taylor Swift: “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Although Taylor Swift will unfortunately always be associated with Kanye West’s jerkishness at a previous VMA, the singer has been able to build quite a career out of wholesome pop hits, including her latest cinematic video for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” There’s something about a plane crash as a metaphor for a breakup. I don’t know, if you’re in middle school, I imagine it’s all quite poignant.
For more: You can get more Taylor on Spotify and on Soundcloud. Follow her every move on Twitter (@taylorswift13), visit her official Facebook page, find her videos at YouTube, or seek more background at her official site or her Wikipedia page.
Next up: Best Hip-Hop Video...