Beyonce on Tuesday led nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards as she basked in acclaim for her intertwined film-album “Lemonade.”
The pop diva was in the running for 11 awards at MTV’s annual extravaganza, which will take place August 28 in New York’s Madison Square Garden, a shift from the more common venue in Los Angeles.
Adele came in second with eight nominations. All but seven were for the chart-topping English balladeer’s “Hello,” which with more than 1.6 billion views is the fifth most watched video ever on YouTube.
“Hello,” filmed by the Canadian director Xavier Dolan, shows Adele on the phone with a younger version of herself and was the first music video created for the high-resolution IMAX format.
“Hello” was in the running for Video of the Year against Beyonce’s “Formation,” the most overtly political work of the former Destiny’s Child singer’s career as she aligned herself with the Black Lives Matter protest movement.
Filmed by Melina Matsoukas, “Formation” at one point shows a row of police officers with their hands in the air and graffiti on a wall that reads, “Stop shooting us.”
The video riled some conservative commentators and law enforcement groups who voiced anger when Beyonce performed the song at the Super Bowl, the most watched television event of the year.
Shot in New Orleans, “Formation” marked a shift in sound by Beyonce to the southern city’s bounce hip-hop scene.
“Formation” was her first single off her album “Lemonade,” which she released in April to accompany a film that she made for HBO.
The album and film are full of references to infidelity as well as forgiveness, drawing speculation that Beyonce’s husband, rap mogul Jay Z, had been unfaithful.
If Beyonce sweeps the awards, she would make MTV history. Peter Gabriel holds the record for the most VMAs in a single night, taking home 10 in 1987 amid a global following for his animation-driven “Sledgehammer.”
– Posthumous nods for Bowie –
Other nominees for Video of the Year included Kanye West’s controversial “Famous,” in which the rapper boasts that pop superstar Taylor Swift may sleep with him and that he made her famous.
Despite her protests over the song, the video features a naked woman in bed with West who resembles Swift as well as nude doppelgangers of other celebrities including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Also in the running for the top prize were two videos dominated by dancing — rapper Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and pop celebrity Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”
Bieber’s “Sorry” is the sixth most watched video ever on YouTube, closely trailing Adele’s “Hello,” which was released on the same day last year.
The late rock icon David Bowie’s video for “Lazarus” took four nominations, although not in the main categories.
Bowie, who embraced music videos as an art form when MTV was in its infancy, released “Lazarus” three days before stunning the world with his death from an unannounced battle with cancer.
The video, in hindsight, was full of foreshadowing of his death with the singer levitating over a hospital bed and retreating into a closet with outfits from his prolific music career.
– ‘Disappointed’ Jonas –
The VMAs have often been more closely watched for incidents at the televised gala than for actual winners, who are determined by fan voting.
At last year’s awards, West vowed to run for president in 2020, although his level of seriousness was unclear.
In one small controversy already this year, Nick Jonas said on Twitter he was “disappointed” he was not nominated for “Closer,” in which he and Swedish singer Tove Lo grope longingly for each other but struggle to connect physically.
But minutes later, the onetime child star tweeted that he would not let himself be bothered by “small stuff.”
“Actually after thinking about it more, there are so many amazing things happening in my life and career. Nine out of 10 boxes are checked.”