MTV letting stars loose on awards show
THE MTV Video Music Awards have long been more about the show than the actual winners, and this year the network will go all out by loosening the reins.
Stepping back from award ceremonies' traditional penchant for down-to-the-second scripts, the producers said they have simply selected the artists and will leave it to them to decide what to do.
The show, to be broadcast to more than 120 countries, will provide an open platform for outspoken stars including rapper Kanye West, who used last year's show to announce, however improbably, that he will run for United States president in 2020.
The set-up could encourage the outlandish or allow for more serious gestures in a year marked by global conflict, souring race relations in the West, and one of the most foul-toned US presidential elections ever.
"Last year, we took a bit more of a playful approach. This year, it's like this is a canvas for artists - not just for their art but for their statements, what they believe is going on in the world," said Erik Flannigan, an executive producer of the show.
"You've got to strike a balance between topicality and being heavy - and this is also a gigantic party. We kind of want to do both," he told Agence France-Presse.
After shock diva Miley Cyrus took much of the limelight as last year's MC in Los Angeles, the awards do not plan a single host, spreading the duties to a wide cast.
The show, which kicks off at 9pm Sunday (9am today, Singapore time), will for the first time take place in New York's Madison Square Garden.
Scheduled performers include R&B chart-topper Rihanna, who will receive the Video Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement, as well as pop idols Ariana Grande and Britney Spears and rappers Nicki Minaj, Common and Future.
Pop icon Beyonce tops the nominations at 11 amid acclaim for Lemonade, her intertwined film and album.
She is followed by Adele who is nominated in eight categories.