Eminem, Nirvana Pave Way For 2011 VMA Best New Artist

Big Sean, Foster the People, Kreayshawn, Tyler, the Creator or Wiz Khalifa will follow in their footsteps come Sunday.

We’re all rookies at some point, but when it comes to the MTV Video Music Awards‘ Best New Artist category, you only get one shot at being the new kid on the block. And for this year’s nominees — Big Sean, Foster the People, Kreayshawn, Tyler, the Creator and Wiz Khalifa — now is their time to shine and join an illustrious list of previous winners that includes Lady Gaga, Guns N’ Roses, Justin Bieber and 50 Cent.

Since the very first Moonman was handed out in this category in 1984, MTV has a pretty stellar track record for picking artists who either went on to superstardom or at least represent a very specific moment in time (we’re looking at you, Jesus Jones).

While hip-hop heavy, this year’s nominees span a pretty wide range of styles, from Kreayshawn’s bawdy, viral sensation “Gucci Gucci” to Khalifa’s day-in-the-life “Black and Yellow,” Tyler’s bugged-out, arty “Yonkers,” Big Sean’s penthouse-rockin’ “My Last” and the DIY feel of the lone rock entry, Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.”

Who’s gonna win? Well, you’ll have to tune in Sunday to find out, but chances are whoever takes home the prize will be a name you’ll be hearing for a good, long time. The very first BNA Moonman went to the Eurythmics in 1984, notable not just because of that British synth soul duo’s long, hit-filled career, but because they beat out a singer that went on to quite a career herself: Madonna.

Over the years, such beloved bands as Crowded House (1987), GN’R (1988), Nirvana (1992), Eminem (1999), Alicia Keys (2001), 50 (2003) and Gaga (2009) have taken the prize.

“I will always remember Best New Artist,” Lady Gaga told MTV News recently, recalling how she surprised Eminem by asking him to hold her Moonman as she thanked “God and the gays” and took off her red lace mask. “The first time that MTV recognized me, that changed my life.”

Of course, there have also been some winners whose video work represented their artistic and commercial high point, such as ‘Til Tuesday (1985), A-ha (1986), Michael Penn (1990), the aforementioned Jesus Jones (1991), Fiona Apple (1997) and Macy Gray (2000).

Even more surprising are the commercial heights reached by a number of nominated acts who didn’t win the award but went on to some pretty stellar careers regardless, including Whitney Houston (1986), Lenny Kravitz (1990), Beck and Green Day (1994), Kid Rock (1999), Christina Aguilera and Pink (2000), Coldplay (2001), Katy Perry (2008) and Nicki Minaj (2010).

And, of course, there are the nominees who make you think: Really? Sure, Timbuk3′s “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” was fun, but Best New Artist? The same might be said for others whose careers never quite reached their initial peaks, from Neneh Cherry (1989) to Jane Child (1990), Gerardo (1991), Chumbawamba (1998), Orgy (1999), the Darkness (2004) and James Blunt (2006).

Viewers can vote for Best New Artist by visiting VMA.MTV.com online or m.mtv.com on their mobile phone. In addition, Best New Artist text voting is open to all wireless carrier subscribers by texting BNA to 66333. Voting continues through the show, live on Sunday.

The 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards will air live Sunday, August 28, from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following the Selena Gomez-hosted pre-show at 8. See the list of nominees, revisit last year’s highlights and vote for Best New Artist by visiting VMA.MTV.com.

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