Why the 2020 MTV VMAs Could Look a Lot Like the 2010 Award Show

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards are almost here. The event promises to be a massive one, taking place all across New York City and beyond. Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it marks the first award show to be not an entirely virtual event since the U.S. shut down in March 2020.

With actual live performances, the VMAs will set the stage for other award shows to come in the following months. But it also has many similarities to past events — specifically, one that took place a decade ago. Here’s why the 2020 VMAs may remind viewers of the 2010 show.

Lady Gaga won big

In 2010, Lady Gaga was still a fresh face in music. The previous year, she won her first three VMAs, including the award for Best New Artist. But 2010 was a huge step forward in her career. The artist earned a whopping 13 nominations and took home eight awards, including Video of the Year, for “Bad Romance.”

A decade later, and Gaga could have her best year since 2010. She is up for nine VMAs, most of which are for her collaboration with Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me.” This is her second time nominated for Video of the Year. Additionally, Gaga is nominated for a new award, Best Quarantine Performance.

Justin Bieber marked a first 

The year was also a big one for Justin Bieber. In 2010, he was nominated for his first VMA for Best New Artist, which he won for his lead single, “Baby,” off his debut studio album My World 2.0. When he won, Bieber became the youngest artist to win at the award show at just 16 years old.

In 2020, Bieber has earned more VMA nominations than any past year, with four nods. For the first time, he’s nominated for Artist of the Year, which isn’t directly tied to a video. He’s also nominated in a new category, Best Music Video From Home, for his collaboration with Grande, “Stuck with U.”

It set a record

The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

According to the network itself, the 2010 MTV VMAs “scored the biggest audience for any MTV telecast since 2002.” The award show brought in more than 11 million viewers and was its most-watched program of the year and No. 3 in its history. This record was broken the next year by the 2011 telecast.

However, in the years since, the award show’s numbers have dropped significantly, averaging around half the audience of 2010 and 2011. But with many still sheltering-in-place due to the pandemic and school largely taking place online, that could be good news for MTV’s viewership.

Taylor Swift performed

RELATED: Taylor Swift Reveals the One Thing She Always Wanted from Kanye West After MTV VMAs Diss

Back in 2010, Taylor Swift was coming off a strange year. At the 2009 MTV VMAs, she had what became a viral moment when Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech for Best Female Video. In 2010, she performed “Innocent,” a song believed to be about the infamous incident.

All these years later, and Swift and West’s feud has waxed and waned. Her latest album, Folklore, even included a song, “Mad Woman,” that is rumored to reference him. However, Swift wasn’t announced as a performer at the 2020 VMAs. But she is nominated for several awards, including Song of the Summer for “Cardigan.”