Over the course of 28 (!) years, the Video Music Awards have played host to epic battles like "Nirvana v. Axl Rose," "RuPaul v. Milton Berle" and "Tyler, the Creator v. the censors," but the 2012 edition has a chance to really raise the bar.
Yes, when the 2012 VMA nominations were revealed Tuesday morning (July 31), the big headline was Drake and Rihanna leading the field with five nods apiece. But coming in a close second was the race for Best Male Video, which pits Drizzy's "Take Care" against Chris Brown's "Turn Up the Music," just over a month after the two were involved in a now-infamous nightclub brawl where somebody lobbed bottles of booze, resulting in a spate of injuries (and allegedly leaving Tony Parker's outside game suffering).
Of course, according to reports, neither Drake nor Brown were actually the ones who chucked the bottles, and we're reasonably sure they'll both be on their best behavior on September 6, when the VMAs air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles. But the fact remains that their Best Male Video showdown is sure to be one of the most talked-about stories in the lead-up to the show, and you can bet neither man is going to back down (neither will their fans, and since fan votes will ultimately determine who comes out on top, it's sure to be a tight race).
And while Drake v. Brown may top the card, there's no shortage of other battles that will be fought at the 2012 VMAs. Let's turn to the race for Best New Artist, which pits boy-band behemoths One Direction and the Wanted against each other, adding yet another chapter to their (sorta) rivalry and allowing fans to finally determine just who has the best dimples (j/k, everyone knows it's Harry Styles).
And then there's the Best Hip-Hop Video category, which, on the surface, looks to be a brawl between heavyweights Drake and Kanye West. But more interesting is the case of Childish Gambino, whose "Heartbeat" is the surprise nom here — and as such, he'll be fighting a battle of a different sort. A win would not only be an upset, but it would strike a blow for underdogs everywhere, and perhaps serve notice of a changing of the guard. And that battle for recognition is perhaps the theme of the 2012 VMAs. Everywhere you look, there are up-and-coming pups nipping at the old dogs' heels. Can Selena Gomez cement her status by knocking off established icons like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Beyoncé in the race for Best Female Video? Can Frank Ocean — up for three Moonmen — channel critical acclaim into actual awards? Will M.I.A. score the upset of upsets and best Katy, RiRi and Drake for Video of the Year?
And all those races are sure to make the 2012 Video Music Awards a show to remember. Will this be a year of upsets and underdogs, or will the old guard maintain their dominance? You know either side isn't going to go down without a fight — and given the VMA history of battles, both onstage and off, that's oddly fitting. Get ready: This one's going 12 rounds.