Will the year's biggest hit, "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra, take the VMA award for Video Of The Year? Will Carly Rae Jepsen take the prize for Best New Artist for her equally inescapable "Call Me Maybe"? Will Nicki Minaj win Best Hip-Hop Video for the second year in a row? These and other questions will be answered on September 6, when MTV's 29th annual Video Music Awards are broadcast from Staples Center in Los Angeles. (This is the first time the VMAs will be held at Staples Center, the long-time home of the Grammy Awards.)
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart will host the ceremony for the first time.
Here's what to watch for in nine key categories.
Video Of The Year
Katy Perry and Rihanna are both vying to become the first woman to win Video of the Year more than once. Perry, who won last year for "Firework," is nominated this year for "Wide Awake." Rihanna, who won in 2007 for "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z), has two videos in the running this year: "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris) and Drake's "Take Care," on which she is featured.
Eminem is currently the only artist to have won Video of the Year more than once. He took the prize in 2000 for "The Real Slim Shady" and in 2002 for "Without Me." (So, yes, Perry is also vying to become the first artist in VMA history to win the top prize in back-to-back years.)
Three of the five finalists are collaborations: "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra, "Take Cake" and "We Found Love." (MTV's list of nominees credits Calvin Harris for "We Found Love," even though he doesn't appear in the video.) To date, "Umbrella" is the only collaboration to have won in this category.
M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" rounds out the category.
Four of the five finalists are also nominated in professional categories (which are not fan-voted). "Wide Awake" is in the running for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. "Take Care" is nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. "Bad Girls" is vying for Best Cinematography and Best Direction. "Somebody That I Used To Know" is nominated for Best Editing. "We Found Love" isn't nominated in any of the professional categories.
Best Female Video
Beyonce, nominated for "Love On Top," is vying to become only the second artist to win in this category three times. She won in 2003 for "Crazy In Love" (featuring Jay-Z) and in 2004 for "Naughty Girl." Currently, Madonna is the only three-time winner in this category.
This would be Beyonce's 12th Moonman won in regular competition, which would put her in a tie for third-place on the all-time list. Madonna leads with 19 of the awards, followed by Lady Gaga with 13 and Peter Gabriel with 12. (Note: Madonna and Gabriel have also received Video Vanguard Awards, which these tallies don't count.)
The other four nominees are Nicki Minaj's "Starships," Katy Perry's "Part Of Me," Selena Gomez & the Scene's "Love You Like A Love Song" and "We Found Love" by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris.
Best Male Video
Justin Bieber is vying to become the first artist to win in this category two years in a row since Will Smith did it in 1998 and 1999. Bieber, who won last year for "U Smile," is nominated this year for "Boyfriend." (Bieber, you may remember, featured Smith's son Jaden Smith on his 2011 hit "Never Say Never.")
Two other past winners in this category are nominated again this year. Usher, who won in 2004 for "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), is nominated this year for "Climax." Chris Brown, who won in 2008 for "With You," is nominated for "Turn Up The Music."
Drake's "Take Care" (featuring Rihanna) is vying to become the first collaboration to win in this category since T.I.'s 2008 hit "Live Your Life" (which also featured Rihanna). Moral of the story: Hire Rihanna to sing on your record and appear in your video.
Frank Ocean's "Swim Good" rounds out the category.
Best New Artist
Frank Ocean, nominated for "Swim Good," is vying to become the second member of the Odd Future hip-hop collective to win in as many years. Tyler, The Creator won last year for "Yonkers."
One Direction, nominated for "What Makes You Beautiful," and The Wanted, nominated for "Glad You Came," are both vying to become the first boy band to win in this category.
fun. featuring Janelle Monae rounds out this highly competitive category. The New York pop/rock band and the R&B singer from Kansas are nominated for "We Are Young."
Best Pop Video
One Direction, nominated for "What Makes You Beautiful," is vying to become the first boy band to win in this category since *NSYNC won back-to-back awards in 2000 and 2001 (with "Bye Bye Bye" and "Pop").
Justin Bieber, nominated for "Boyfriend," is hoping to follow Justin Timberlake to a victory here. Timberlake's win in 2003 with "Cry Me A River" helped to signal his emergence from the bubblegum image of *NSYNC.
Three collaborations round out the category: "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, "Payphone" by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa and "We Found Love" by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris. To date, only one collabo has won in this category: "Hey Baby" by No Doubt featuring Bounty Killer in 2002.
Best Rock Video
Linkin Park, nominated for "Burn It Down," is vying to become only the second four-time winner in this category. The band won for "In The End" in 2002, "Somewhere I Belong" in 2003 and "Shadow Of The Day" in 2008. Currently, Aerosmith is the only four-time winner in this category. The band from Boston won for "Janie's Got A Gun," "The Other Side," "Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)" and "Pink."
Linkin Park is competing with The Black Keys' "Lonely Boy," Coldplay's "Paradise," Imagine Dragons' "It's Time" and Jack White's "Sixteen Saltines."
Best Hip-Hop Video
Nicki Minaj, who won last year for "Super Bass," is back in the running with "Beez In The Trap" (featuring 2 Chainz). Minaj is vying to become only the second female artist to win in this category twice, following Missy Elliott, who won for "Work It" in 2003 and "Lose Control" (featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop) in 2005.
Minaj's strongest competition is "Ni**as In Paris" by Jay-Z and Kanye West (which MTV renders as "Paris" by Watch The Throne.) Jay-Z won twice in the now-defunct Best Rap Video category—in 1999 for "Can I Get A…" (featuring Ja Rule and Amil) and in 2004 for "99 Problems." A win here would boost Jay-Z's Moonman total to seven. Among rap artists, only Eminem has amassed more (11).
West, surprisingly, has yet to win in this category (or the earlier rap category). He has a second entry in the running this year: "Mercy," his collaboration with Pusha-T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz. (Thus 2 Chainz, whose debut album Based On A T.R.U. Story enters The Billboard 200 at #1 this week, also has also two nominations in this category.)
"HYFR" by Drake featuring Lil Wayne is also nominated. Lil Wayne won in this category in 2008 for "Lollipop" (featuring Static Major).
The fifth nominee is Childish Gambino for "Heartbeat."
Best Electronic Dance Music Video
This category was re-instated after a one-year absence. The nominees are Avicii's "Levels," Duck Sauce's "Big Bad Wolf," Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close," Skrillex's "First Of The Year (Equinox)" and Martin Solveig's "The Night Out." None of these artists have previously won in this category.
Best Video With A Message
Six videos are competing to take the award won last year by Lady Gaga's gay-friendly smash "Born This Way." They are Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper," Rise Against's "Ballad Of Hollis Brown," Kelly Clarkson's "Dark Side," Lil Wayne's "How To Love" and a pair of collabos—"The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Ryan Tedder and "Is Anybody Out There?" by K'Naan featuring Nelly Furtado.