Last year, Lady Gaga reigned as queen of the MTV Video Music Awards winning eight of her record 13 nominations. She was the first female artist to receive two Video of the Year bids — “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” — and “Romance” won that top prize, along with six others. Those seven wins made it the second most honored video in VMA history (“Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel won nine in 1987).
And in 2009, Lady Gaga won Best New Artist as “Poker Face” earned her three other bids and “Paparazzi” won two of its five technical nods for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects.
With such an impressive track record, it was a shock that Lady Gaga was reduced to just three nominations at this year’s awards. Her audacious seven-and-a-half-minute video for “Born This Way” received only one nomination (Best Female Video), while “Judas” contends in two technical races (Art Direction and Choreography).
“Born This Way” was not nominated for Video of the Year despite the impressive sales and chart performance of both the song and album of the same name. MTV passed over this life-affirming anthem in favor of another inspirational song, Katy Perry‘s “Firework,” which earned a Video of the Year nod and competes against Gaga for Best Female Video. Perry received another five nominations for “E.T.” and one apiece for “Last Friday Night” and “Teenage Dream.”
How did Lady Gaga anger the music video gods? When “Born This Way” was released after months of anticipation, many accused her of borrowing portions of its melody from Madonna‘s “Express Yourself.” After all, Madonna is the all-time champ at the VMAs with 20 wins, including three for “Express Yourself” in 1989.
Or there might also have been a feeling of fatigue at rewarding the same artist every year. Then again, maybe the folks at MTV were simply worried that it would take too long to get rid of the smell of another meat-dress.