No one can say the race for Best New Artist lacked in color — Macy Gray sporting a deep red afro snatched the award for “I Try,” beating out young female singer Pink, who has a cropped bubblegum-colored hairstyle in the video for “There You Go,” Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants,” R&B singer Sisqo’s anthemic “Thong Song,” and alternative rockers Papa Roach for “Last Resort,” also a hit song this summer.
And winning this award could be a good omen. Consider last year’s champ, Eminem, who went on to score one of the top-selling albums of 2000 with his Marshall Mathers L.P. The album spawned the video “The Real Slim Shady,” where the singer challenges wannabe rap singers.
The video for that song is up for the coveted Video of the Year, with ’N Sync for “Bye Bye Bye,” D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” and pop-punksters Blink 182’s “All the Small Things,” which spoofs the boy bands that continue to dominate MTV.
Slim Shady vs. ’N Sync Calderone is not surprised the event is largely becoming a showdown between Eminem and ’N Sync.
“In reality that’s kind of what MTV is right now, it is Eminem and ’N Sync, and I think that both provided really good videos as well as great drama behind the scenes,” said Calderone.
’N Sync has attracted throngs of female fans and racked up the most album sales in a week, ever, when No Strings Attached debuted in March. The album also generated the hit “Bye Bye Bye,” which is also up for Best Group Video, Best Dance Video, Best Choreography and the Viewer’s Choice award. In the video, the five band members pretend to be puppets and ultimately end up in a high-speed car chase in an attempt to lose a girlfriend.
In Eminem’s case, the behind-the-scenes drama includes legal troubles ranging from ongoing court hearings for weapons charges to defamation lawsuits and a recently announced split from his wife Kim Mathers, none of which deterred fans from calling in to make sure his video “The Real Slim Shady” became a staple earlier this year on MTV’s afternoon show, Total Request Live. The video is also up for the Viewer’s Choice award, along with Best Rap Video and Best Male Video.
Winners aside, Calderone says they’ve been working all year to ensure an evening filled with eye-opening moments, and to satisfy the viewers expecting this year’s event to top its predecessors. “Literally, the day after the Video Music Awards, we sit there and go, ‘OK, what are we going to do next year?’”
ABC Radio’s Andrea Dresdale contributed to this report.