The MTV VMAs do not really carry the same kind of street cred and respect that a trophy like a Grammy would. But in its own special way, the VMAs are very much music’s biggest night, or at least, music’s most controversial, gossipy night. Luckily for us, that night is almost upon us, as the 2016 VMAs are being broadcast live from Madison Square Garden this Sunday, August 28.

With a nominee list for Video of the Year that is split between Beyoncé, Adele, Kanye West, Drake and Justin Bieber, picking favorites is about as easy as rationally speaking with a Belieber about why Justin deleted his Instagram account. Just as difficult will be sifting through the treasure trove of performances set to take place during the show. Being the VMAs, a bevy of surprises are sure to be in store, but here’s who we know is playing the show for sure:

Britney Spears

Britney is bona fide VMA royalty, with her Madonna-makeout and snake-charming performance of “Slave 4 U” ranking among the most iconic sets to grace the stage. But after a devastatingly terrible rendition of “Gimme More” when opening the show in 2007, she has steered clear of the awards show, only returning to collect the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard in 2011. But it’s Britney bitch, and she’s back with her new single “Make Me…,” even bringing G-Eazy along for the ride.

Nick Jonas & Ty Dolla $ign

Nick Jonas has officially blossomed out of his boy band and into the aggressively sexual pop-star we always knew he was capable of being. And to prove it to the world, he’s going to be singing his hit single “Bacon” with the one and only Ty Dolla $ign. It’s like the performative equivalent of a Barmitzvah, the boy has become a man.


Future. Live. On stage. Enough said.

Nicki Minaj & Ariana Grande

The last time these two took the VMA stage (with Jessie J in tow) a major wardrobe malfunction happened involving Miss Minaj’s catsuit. Yet in spite of this, it still proved to be one of the better shows of the evening. Which means that we are eagerly anticipating Round 2 of the Diva Duo.


The one and only queen is receiving this year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, and accepting it with a performance to boot. The last time a recipient performed in addition to accepting this trophy was when Justin Timberlake ran through a 15-minute medley of his hits, and that ended in a damn NSYNC reunion. So no matter what RiRi has up her sleeve, rest assured it is going to be colossally awesome.

The 2016 MTV VMAs airs this Sunday, August 28.

In other music news, check out our analysis of how artists like Kanye and Frank Ocean have changed the album release forever.

Music Editor
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