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VMA 2014: Five performances to watch

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Credit: Nat Ch Villa, Flickr

Even more so than the Grammys or the American Music Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards are an annual excuse for the most popular artists in the country to put together massive spectacles and occasionally push the boundaries of taste. How ironic that this show is on a network that has re-branded itself away from the music videos it still claims to champion.

This year’s VMA lineup is no slouch, and perhaps even stronger than last year’s. Here are five performances worth keeping an eye on.


Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj

Sparks are sure to fly for this three-way performance of the trio’s saucy hit “Bang Bang”, set to kick off the show right at 8 p.m. Eastern. Minaj will return later to perform “Anaconda,” if the snakes don’t get to her first.


Beyonce

It’s unlikely that anyone reading this blog needs an explanation for the cultural omnipresence of Queen Bey. Rumor has it she’ll be performing a vast chunk of her most recent album during a fifteen-minute set leading up to the presentation of her Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Go ahead and put this performance on loop.


Sam Smith

Three years ago, Adele delivered a stunning minimalist rendition of Someone Like You on the VMA stage, and America took notice – she picked up 7 Grammy Awards and landed several more hit singles in the year that followed. With his angelic voice, titanic range and British origins, Smith has been compared favorably to the superstar songstress. Time will tell if “Stay With Me” represents the makings of a music legend.


Taylor Swift

Her new single “Shake It Off,” the first from her upcoming pop album 1989, is already a smash hit, despite allegations of racism and some fans’ discomfort with the former country star’s hard left turn into pure pop. Just as Swift was savvy enough to start conversations with the new single, she’s sure to put on a performance that will have people talking.


Usher

Both of the superstar singer and intermittent Voice coach’s new singles are catchy, elegantly produced and significant departures from the current pop radio vogue. Unfortunately, neither “Good Kisser” nor “She Came to Give It To You” has taken off on the charts. Perhaps a stellar performance here will help him reverse course.

Tune into the VMAs live on MTV (Channel 37 at AU) at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24.


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