MTV Video Music Awards add 2 pandemic-specific categories

Lady Gaga is up for nine VMA nominations, including one for Best Quarantine Performance. (AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: The VMAs have added two new categories of nominations to reflect how artists have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic: Best Music Video From Home and Best Quarantine Performance.

“Rain on Me” collaborators Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga led the list with nine nominations apiece. “Rain on Me” itself earned seven nominations, including Video of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Collaboration and Best Pop Song.

Coming up behind Grande and Gaga are The Weeknd and Billie Eilish, at six nominations each.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which put paid to many musicians’ tours, performances and even recording and filming plans, saw them adapt by performing their top hits from their living rooms, teaming up on socially-distanced online jam sessions, and hosting at-home dance parties.

Up for Best Quarantine Performance are Post Malone (“Nirvana Tribute”), Chloe x Halle (“Do It” from MTV’s “Prom-athon”), CNCO’s “MTV Unplugged at Home” set, DJ D-Nice’s performance at “Club MTV Presents: #DanceTogether”, Lady Gaga (“Smile,” part of her “One World: Together At Home” broadcast) and John Legend’s contribution to the “#TogetherAtHome Concert Series.”

The nominees for Best Music Video from Home are 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Wildflower, “Happy Days by Blink-182, ” Drake’s “Toosie Slide,” the Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber duet “Stuck with U,” John Legend’s “Bigger Love” and “Level of Concern” by Twenty One Pilots.

Nominees for the Artist of the Year trophy are the Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, DaBaby and Bieber, while the Song of the Year award could go to “Rain on Me,” Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” Post Malone’s “Circles,” Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” or Doja Cat’s “Say So.”

The Video for Good nominees were dominated by artists’ responses to the worldwide protests after George Floyd’s death in the US, including “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R., “The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby, and “Lockdown” by Anderson Paak. Also nominated are “I Love Me” by Demi Lovato, “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” by Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift’s “The Man.”

Fans can cast their votes for the show’s categories on the awards show website until August 23. The annual MTV VMAs will air live August 30 at 8pm EST on MTV.