Madonna kissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke. Beyoncé opening up her jacket at the end of her performance to reveal her pregnancy. The MTV Video Music Awards are always filled with iconic moments. And this year is sure to add a handful of more to the canon.
The annual honors — which began in 1984 — is known for its moonman-shaped trophy, given to celebrate the best video achievements of the year by music’s biggest stars.
This year, MTV has decided to shake things up by abolishing gender-specific categories — meaning that artist of the year will now be shared with musicians across all genders. The move comes on the heels of MTV’s decision to replace the former best actor and best actress categories with non-gendered best actor in a movie and best actor in a show at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards.
There’s also a new award: “best fight against the system,” which sheds a light on music videos that are making strong political statements.
Here’s everything you need to know about those big changes, and a whole lot more.
The 32-year-old star shared her big news on Twitter in July, referring to herself as a “MOONWOMAN” when sharing a promo video of herself floating in space dressed as the show’s iconic trophy. “Brace for impact!” she added.
Perry joins the ranks of fellow chart-toppers who have hosted the fête, including Miley Cyrus (2015), Jack Black (2006), Diddy (2005), Eddie Murphy (1985) and Bette Midler (1984). Last year, comedians Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele and “social media” hosted the show.
Of course, hosting means Perry also gets a chance to sing (and she’s reportedly planning a space-themed performance, so get ready).
But she won’t be the night’s only musical act. Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Fifth Harmony, Lorde, the Weeknd, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Shawn Mendes are just a few of the names in the VMAs’ star-studded lineup.
They’ll be joined by Demi Lovato, Logic, Khalid, Julia Michaels, Post Malone, Cardi B of “Bodak Yellow,” and legendary rocker Rod Stewart — the latter who will team up with DNCE for a cover of his 1978 track “Do You Think I’m Sexy.”
And then there’s P!nk. The 37-year-old high-flying pop star will perform her new single “What About Us” from her forthcoming sixth album, Beautiful Trauma — before accepting the evening’s lifetime achievement Video Vanguard award, which pays tribute to her 17-year long career as a performer and trailblazing impact on music, pop culture, fashion and philanthropy.
What About the Nominees?
P!nk may be the only star guaranteed to walk away with a moonperson this year, but there’s a good bet Kendrick Lamar should prep a thank you speech or two.
The rapper leads the nominations for the 2017 awards with eight spots, including video of the year for his song “HUMBLE.” He’ll duke it out in that category with Bruno Mars (“24K Magic”), Alessia Cara (“Scars to Your Beautiful), the Weeknd (“Reminder”) and DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller (“Wild Thoughts”).
The Weeknd‘s Video of the Year nomination is one of five he has (tying with Perry). He’s also up for the aforementioned artist of the year prize, against Mars, Lamar, Sheeran, Lorde ,and Ariana Grande.
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Fans were given their change to vote for their favorites in all categories by visiting www.vma.mtv.com. Only one category remains open now though — best new artist (presented by Taco Bell®). Nominees there? Khalid, Kodak Black, SZA, Young M.A, Julia Michaels and Noah Cyrus.
As for the inaugural best fight against the system award, that will either go to Cara (“Scars to Your Beautiful”), Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson (“Black SpiderMan”), The Hamilton Mixtape (“Immigrants…We Get the Job Done),” Big Sean (“Light”), Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley (“Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL”) or John Legend (“Surefire”).
Will Taylor Swift be there?
“She has been on the show many times and [has] performed with a new album coming, but not this time,” executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic tells PEOPLE. “I definitely wish she was coming on and performing.”
Swifties won’t be totally let down come awards night, though. The music video for her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” is set to premiere during the show. Plus, the star is nominated in the best collaboration category for her duet with Zayn Malik on “I Don’t Want to Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”, and there’s a chance she could still show up to accept her award if she wins.
Is there a pre-show?
Yes. Red carpet arrivals begin airing on MTV at 6:15 p.m. EST, with a live pre-show hosted by rapper Lil Yachty and MTV’s Charlamagne Tha God, Terrence J and Gaby Wilson. There will be performances too, from Bleachers, Khalid and Cardi B straight from the red carpet.
Online, fans can live-stream the pre-show on MTV.com site starting at 7 p.m.