Sunday, August 25, 2013

MTV VMA Awards: Australian rapper Iggy Azalea up for gong

Iggy Azalea: The Australian rapper is a nominee at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Iggy Azalea: The Australian rapper is a nominee at the MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Getty Images

Provocative Sydney-born rapper Iggy Azalea is among the nominees for Monday's MTV Video Music Awards, a ceremony that has produced some of the most bizarre moments in the history of televised awards.

In 2007, Britney Spears' performance of Gimme More led many to think she was intoxicated; in 2008, host Russell Brand called then-president George Bush "a retarded cowboy"; and in 2009, Kanye West was booed after grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech.

Over the years, several musicians, some from the same band (Poison, in 1991), have come to blows during the awards. Madonna has grabbed the headlines several times for her antics, including kissing Spears in 2003.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: Video of the Year contenders.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: Video of the Year contenders. Photo: Getty Images

Bizarre and revealing outfits have long been a feature of the awards. In 2010, Lady Gaga famously wore a dress made of raw meat; in 1999, Lil' Kim's dress deliberately exposed her right breast (with covered nipple); and in 2000, Spears wore a flesh-coloured outfit, leading many to think she was naked.

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The hot tip for today's ceremony, according to the New York Post, is that Justin Timberlake will reunite his former boy band 'N Sync for a medley of hits. 'N Sync broke up in 2002.

Australian Iggy Azalea, 23, a model for Levis who raps explicit songs in a southern US accent, is in contention in the Artist to Watch category, for her song Work. Her nomination is acknowledgement of her rapid rise to the forefront of an ultra-competitive sub-genre of aggressive hip hop popular in the US which is populated by brash female MCs (or "femcees"). Her contemporaries include Nicky Minaj, Azealia Banks and Princess Superstar.

Azalea is up against 17-year old tween idol Austin Mahone, electonica duo Twenty One Pilots, the enormously talented Canadian singer/producer The Weeknd and house music producer Zedd.

Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly and grew up in Mullumbimby, in northern NSW. She moved to the US at 16 and self-financed her early releases, one of which, Pu$$y, got her widely noticed. Last year she became the first non-American female rapper to be included on XXL magazine's influential annual Top 10 Freshmen cover feature. Previous freshmen have included Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Lupe Fiasco.

Azalea, who has just released her debut album, The New Classic, has a rapidly growing fanbase of "Azaleans" in the US and UK, where she has played several summer festivals including Glastonbury - although cancelled appearances at the Leeds and Reading music festivals to be in New York for the VMAs.

The major award at the VMAs is Video of the Year, which has no clear favourite in 2013. Among the nominees are Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's Thrift Shop, Justin Timberlake's Mirrors and Taylor Swift's I Knew You Were Trouble.

Timberlake and Thicke are expected to fight out the Best Male Video, and either Swift or Rihanna should win the Best Female category, with Pink and Miley Cyrus also in contention. One Direction is favoured to beat Cyrus to the Best Song of the Summer award.

There are also awards for Best Rock Video, Best Collaboration and Best Video with a Social Message. That award sees Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's chart-topping same-sex marriage anthem, Same Love, up against a song Beyonce wrote for World Humanitarian Day, I Was Here, and performed at the United Nations, as well as songs by Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Lion and Miguel.

The VMAs are decided by public votes on the MTV website.

The MTV Video Music Awards pre-show begins at 10am AEST and the awards ceremony starts at 11am. Giles Hardie will be live blogging from 11am and live coverage will also be on MTV.

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