The MTV VMAs have never been an exercise in subtlety. This, after all, is an awards show where Pamela Anderson’s exes once got into a physical fight, where Kanye West launched a thousand memes when he stopped Taylor Swift mid-acceptance, and where Nicki Minaj uttered the now-famous line “Miley, what’s good?” As the network has swung wildly towards video, exhuming TRL, Unplugged, and Wild n’ Out, it has also planned what’s shaping up to be the most bombastic Video Music Awards show yet.
Sunday nights force television audiences to make a pretty tough decision between Game of Thrones, Life of Kylie, and Twin Peaks—and it seems like MTV is doing the most to make sure the VMAs offer viable competition. Katy Perry, fresh off her new video “Swish Swish,” is hosting; Taylor Swift is rumored to be making an appearance-slash-burying the hatchet with Perry; the whole thing is covered in silver foil and “outer space” themed; and 11 different performers are slated to take the stage (or, rather, the five stages distributed across the space). There will be 560 chain motors suspended from the ceiling, part of the elaborate stage maneuvering of the event (for comparison, a VMAs set designer told Variety an average rock concert might feature a mere 150 hanging objects), allowing Katy Perry 560 opportunities to come swinging in on a candy cane trapeze. (We might be making up the part about the trapeze, but an early preview of the show indicated Perry would be airborn, and accompanied by the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
According to Variety, Katy Perry will also perform, as will Logic, who is slated to offer a remembrance of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, 30 Seconds to Mars, Lorde, Fifth Harmony, DNCE, Ed Sheeran (back from Westeros at last, and predicted by Youtube and Spotify to win Artist of the Year), Miley Cyrus, Kendrick Lamar, Pink, and erstwhile Vine star Shawn Mendes, who will inaugurate the new Unplugged next month. The likes of Millie Bobby Brown, Chance the Rapper, and Gal Gadot will be seated in a separate “VIP Village.”
“Rehearsals have yet to begin, the run-of-show hasn’t been nailed down, and presenters still don’t know who they’ll be paired with,” Variety reported Wednesday, “but producers are confident they’ll be able to pull off the biggest VMAs in the network’s history.” (When dress rehearsals do begin, according to the event’s executive producer Garrett English, they will keep going up until the minute the show goes on air, which is definitely one way to make up the time.) This seems ill-advised, but they’re the experts.
The performers are apparently free to choreograph their own sets, though because of time and space constraints, Ric Lipson, the set designer, told Variety he has had to veto “some over-the-top ideas”—though based on early reports of the show’s outline, it’s not entirely clear what he would deem too over-the-top to move forward.
Katy Perry admits she cries to some of her own songs sometimes: