2012 VMA Video Of The Year Race Pits Drake Against Rihanna

With Katy Perry, M.I.A., Gotye also vying for VOTY prize, the ladies have an advantage in the coveted category.

The fellas are going to have to bring their A game if they want to take home the Video of the Year moonman at the 29th annual 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. Seeking to break the four-year run of female VOTY winners are Drake and Gotye, who will vie for the honor against Katy Perry, Rihanna and M.I.A.

The action will all go down live on September 6 at 8 p.m. EST from the Staples Center in Los Angeles during a show that will feature performances from four-time VMA veteran Alicia Keys and VMA first-timers One Direction. Click here
 for the full list of 2012 VMA nominees.

The video of the year category is anyone's game, but 2011 winner Perry certainly has the inside track thanks to the gothic sleepwalking clip for "Wide Awake"
. The epic video
, which borrows from author Lewis Carroll's classic book "Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There," is a kind of shorthand look at the singer's hectic past few years.

Trapped in a labyrinth, Perry discovers her lost innocence in the form of a young girl, as she gets hounded by hellish paparazzi and finds her Prince Charming, who may have a double-cross in mind. Read into what you will, but Perry certainly doesn't play coy with this one.

Another girl with love troubles to work out on film is Rihanna. In her exploration of a love undone by substances and violence
, she shares the screen with British boxer/model Dudley O'Shaughnessy as the pair of gutter punks stumble their way through Belfast, Ireland in a haze of post-coital bliss, drug-fueled benders and physical altercations.

There is no such angst in the body-painted video for Gotye's breakthrough hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know." In a nod to the low-concept efforts from MTV's early-1980's heyday, "Somebody" finds the mostly naked singer and equally exposed pal Kimbra blending into abstract background courtesy of geometrical shape body paint applied to match a piece of art created by Gotye's father, Frank de Backer.

M.I.A. hardly does anything that doesn't involve some political or social statement and the ghost-riding accompaniment to "Bad Girls" was no exception. In what appears to be a statement on the Saudi Arabian government's ban on female drivers, M.I.A. traveled to Morocco to film women in Arab garb getting behind the wheels and performing a type of stylized Middle Eastern form of drifting known as hagwalah.

If Drake is going to score some VOTY moon rock, he's gonna have to share it with Rihanna. The Young Money MC who isn't afraid to show his sensitive side made one of the best videos of his career with the maudlin, monochromatic "Take Care."

Packed with expansive, icy landscapes, achingly tense slow-motion footage and artfully framed animals, the minimal clip doesn't really take you anywhere as it depicts the pair amid images of birds taking flight, bulls charging and a shower of arrows.

But, somehow, at the end, after the pair shares a tender, sexually charged embrace and all that's left is burning trees and smoking earth, you feel exhausted and satisfied.

Who will hop into a limo at night's end with the Video of the Year moonman? It's anyone's guess, but whoever it is will have earned their spot.