From the first Video Music Awards in 1984 until 1992, MTV always honored at least one artist or director as a Video Vanguard. This lifetime acheivement prize — which was renamed for 1988 recipient Michael Jackson in 1991 — was only bestowed eight more times from 1994 till 2006 when it went to helmer Hype Williams. Last year, MTV reintroduced the award and Lady Gaga presented it to Britney Spears. Despite naming 27 honorees over the years, MTV overlooked the late Whitney Houston, Prince and Bruce Springsteen.
This year, MTV could fete any of the eight acts below. Vote for one of them in our poll at the bottom of this post. (Don’t see your favorite? Let us know in the comments section.)
Aerosmith came on the music scene in 1973. They made their MTV debut in 1986 collaborating with Run-DMC in a cover of their song “Walk This Way.” “Walk This Way” promoted hip-hop onto MTV and rejuvenated Aerosmith’s career for the MTV generation. Aerosmith is one of the few bands to stay relevant throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They have won 10 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year in 1994 for “Cryin’.” At the recent MTV Movie Awards, bandmates Steven Tyler and Joe Perry presented Johnny Depp with the MTV Generation Award. Could Depp, who will be performing on the band’s next album, return the favor and present Aerosmith with the MTV Video Vanguard Award?
Beyonce first appeared on MTV as a member of the R&B group Destiny’s Child. This trio won Best R&B Video back to back in 2000 and 2001. In 2003, she launched her solo career and has since won 11 more VMAs. Beyonce is that rare exception who has managed to stay relevant throughout the entire decade. At the 2011 MTV VMAs she grabbed headlines by subtly announcing her pregnancy at the end of her performance. This year she is nominated for three more awards and is likely to attend. She is certain to receive this award at some point in her career.
Mariah Carey is one of the most successful artists to come out of the nineties. While she has won five Grammys and 11 American Music Awards but has never won an MTV Video Music Award. She has been nominated three times for Best Female Video, four times for Best R&B Video and once for Best Hip-Hop Video. It was just announced that she will be a judge on next season’s “American Idol” and it is possible she will attend this year’s VMAs to promote that gig. I predict she will be part of a tribute to Whitney Houston. It would be a good time for MTV to bestow upon Mariah this long overdue honor.
Eminem debuted on MTV in 1999 as Dr. Dre’s protégé. He won Best New Artist against nominees Jennifer Lopez, Kid Rock and Orgy. He is the only two-time winner of Video of the Year (“The Real Slim Shady,” 2000; “Without Me,” 2002). Eminem is also the only artist to win Best Male Video three times making him the male equivalent of Madonna. He has won a total of twelve VMAs and is sure to receive the Vanguard Award in the near future.
Green Day debuted on MTV in 1994 but lost Best New Artist to the Counting Crows. Since then, Green Day has won 11 VMAs including Video of the Year in 2005 for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” They are one of the few rock bands to come out of the nineties and remain relevant. In the next six months, Green Day will be releasing three albums and were just announced to perform at this year’s VMAs. Green Day will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and will likely be inducted. This would be a good opportunity for MTV to honor them first, with its highest honor.
Jay-Z won his first MTV Video Music Award in 1999 for Best Rap Video and was presented with it by, Will Smith, Tupac Shakur’s mother (Afeni Shakur) and The Notorious B.I.G.’s mother (Voletta Wallace). The presentation was viewed as a “pass the torch” moment. Jay-Z has won six VMAs and his collaborations on Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella” were big VMA winners. LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys are the only two Hip-Hop artists to receive the MTV Video Vanguard award. Jay-Z would be a deserving recipient.
No Doubt made their MTV VMA debut performing on the pre-show on top of the marquee of Radio City Music Hall. They have won Best Group Video a record three times. No Doubt has won fiveVMAs as a band while Gwen Stefani has taken two in her solo career. Stefani’s collaborations helped Moby’s “South Side” win Best Male Video and Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” win Best Female Video in 2001. No Doubt are back together with a much anticipated new album and the timing would be right to honor them.
Justin Timberlake made his VMA debut as a member of the boy band ‘NSYNC, during the “TRL” era. ‘NSYNC won seven MTV Video Music Awards. Timberlake debuted as a solo act on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards performing “Like I Love You.” He has won seven more VMAs on his own. Lately, Justin has crossed over into movies appearing in “The Social Network,” “Friends With Benefits” and “Bad Teacher.” His latest film is “Trouble With The Curve” starring Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams. He is likely to attend the VMAs to promote this.