8 Times the VMA Went to the Wrong Person


When Kanye famously stormed the stage in '09, he was just doing something we've all wanted to do at one time or another. Here, the Sweet editors share their picks for the most baffling cases of award robbery in VMA history.

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Her Anaconda Don't Want None… of Your Normative Nonsense

Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp

The Year: 2015

The Category: Video of the Year

Who Was Robbed: Nicki Minaj, "Anaconda"

Who Won Instead: Taylor Swift, "Bad Blood"

What Made This a Tragedy: It's hard to believe that, just last year, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift were embroiled in the Twitter feud of the century. Minaj's "Anaconda" video wasn't even nominated for the Video of the Year, and in response, she called out the industry for favoring "women with very slim bodies." Minaj's point was valid, and she was calling attention to a pervasive societal problem, not an issue unique to the music industry. So when Taylor Swift tweeted her "nothing but love & support" rebuttal, it seemed as if she was diminishing Minaj's calling out of a very harsh truth. Anyway, they hashed it out, performed together, and Swift's "Bad Blood" beat out all the boys in that category, so I guess all is well?

https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623608271774...

https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/623616796...


They Gave the Award to Gym Class Heroes and We Said No, No, No

Rebecca Deczynski, editorial assistant, @rebeccadecz

The Year: 2007

The Category: Best New Artist

Who Was Robbed: Amy Winehouse

Who Won Instead: Gym Class Heroes

What Made This a Tragedy: Amy Winehouse's smoky vocals enraptured the world when Back to Black was released in October 2006. So, by the time the VMAs rolled around, the singer was nominated not just for Best New Artist, but also Female Artist of the Year and Video of the Year. Sadly, Winehouse didn't walk away with any awards, with her loss as Best New Artist looming as perhaps the biggest snub—Gym Class Heroes, really? Whatever, though. Winehouse went on to win five Grammys shortly thereafter in 2008, so nbd.

Photograph courtesy of Getty Images
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These Hips Feel Like They've Been Lied To

Chantal Strasburger, assistant editor, @chantagold

The Year: 2002

The Category: Best Female Video

Who Was Robbed: Shakira, "Whenever, Wherever"

Who Won Instead: Pink, "Get the Party Started"

What Made This a Tragedy: There's a reason "Whenever, Wherever" has over 300 million views on YouTube, whereas "Get the Party Started" has a measly 14 million. Have you seen the video? Shakira crosses a desert, crawls through mud, climbs a mountain, swan dives off said mountain, and survives a stampede of wild horses—all while wearing a bikini top, flared leather pants, and a massive medallion belt. Girl deserves a VMA.

Smells Like Sammy Hagar's Sunscreen

Catherine Fuentes, managing editor, @cat_fuentes

The Year: 1992

The Category: Video of the Year

Who Was Robbed: Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Who Won Instead: Van Halen, "Right Now"

What Made This a Tragedy: Where do I even begin? It is impossible for me to think of early '90s music without immediately thinking of Nirvana, one of my very favorite bands of all time. And it's even more impossible to imagine Nirvana's impact without "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a song that achieved that elusive brand of perfection and appealed to both alternative and mainstream tastes alike. Let's face it: We still talk about and regularly hear "Smells Like Teen Spirit" 24 years later. When's the last time you heard "Right Now"?

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A Taste of Honey Is Worse Than None At All

Mallory Rice, deputy editor, @mallory-rice

The Year: 1998

The Category: Best Female Video

Who Was Robbed: Mariah Carey, "Honey"

Who Won Instead: Madonna, "Ray of Light"

What Made This a Tragedy: When I close my eyes and play the music video for "Honey" on the back of my lids, I remember the entire thing, from start to finish. I remember the absurd narration. I remember Mariah sassily telling her captor he needed a stick of gum. I remember her shiny golden hair and all of her perfectly tailored swimsuits. She made jet skiing sexy. She shimmied around with a boatload of sailors. Reader, she swam like a fish while wearing Gucci pumps. When I try to recall the video for "Ray of Light," what do I see? A green screen, some sped-up stock footage of a busy city, and a wind machine. Groundbreaking. 

Listen All Y'all It's Subterfuge

Stefan Marolachakis, senior editor, @stefanmymind

The Year: 1994

The Category: Video of the Year

Who Was Robbed: Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"

Who Won Instead: Aerosmith, "Cryin'"

What Made This a Tragedy: I was just an excitable kid when Aerosmith put out the video for "Cryin'," so I fully understand the appeal of Alicia Silverstone going off on a spate of rebellious soul-searching dressed like an extra from the "Sweet Child o' Mine" video. But "Sabotage" was a defining moment for a timelessly cool band at the apex of their coolness, directed by an on-the-rise auteur by the name of Spike Jonze, who would, of course, go on to direct Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Her. I guess sometimes artists are just way too far ahead of the people judging the awards for which they're nominated (see Martin Scorsese's Best Director Oscar loss for Goodfellas, an honor the academy instead decided to bestow upon Kevin Costner for his work on Dances With Wolves).

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Taking a Pop at the King

Martin Sanchez, associate editor, @thet_t

The Year: 1984

The Category: Video of the Year

Who Was Robbed: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"

Who Won Instead: The Cars, "You Might Think"

What Made This a Tragedy: Here's where I'm confused. If you didn't know any better, you would think the impetus of the Video Music Awards was for MTV executives to have a grander, more appropriate platform to honor Michael Jackson's cinematic treasure, seeing as this was the year of the first-ever VMAs. But somehow Jackson didn't win. Instead, The Cars won. Sit with that for a minute. Does their video have a masterful, highly choreographed zombie dance routine? Does it leave you guessing until the very end? No, no it doesn't. Maybe their decision was the ultimate PR stunt, because yes, we're still talking about it.

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