Video of the Year might be the top prize at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, but this year, there is some serious competition in another category: Best Female Video.
With pop heavyweights
Nominated Video: "Firework"
Her Massive Year: Katy Perry dropped the feel-good clip in October, saying she "believed in people" when she wrote the track. Months later, in January, she announced the dates on her sugar-coated California Dreams Tour. In late June, Perry threw herself a party in her other VMA-nominated video, for "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which director Marc Klasfeld said "is definitely '16 Candles'- and John Hughes-influenced."
In July, it was announced that Katy was the lead nominee for the VMAs, racking up nine nods. To top it all off, weeks before the VMAs, it was announced that Perry had tied with Michael Jackson's record of five #1 singles from the same album.
Nominated Video: "Run the World (Girls)"
Her Massive Year: In November, just two months after last year's VMAs, Beyoncé started teasing fans about her fourth album. What was her plan? To "make my own genre of music," she declared. B later added that her musical influences on the then-untitled project included Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill.
Fans finally heard and saw what she was talking about when she dropped the VMA-nominated video for "Run the World (Girls)" in May. Her album 4 eventually leaked three weeks early but still managed to debut at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. The year of 4 culminates when Beyoncé hits the VMA stage Sunday.
Nominated Video: "Born This Way"
Her Massive Year: Fans were teased with a taste of "Born This Way" at the 2010 VMAs when the meat-dress-wearing Lady Gaga belted out part of the chorus as she accepted her award for Video of the Year. By the time the full song dropped in mid-February, it broke a record as the fastest-selling single in iTunes history. Weeks later, the video, directed by Nick Knight, had everyone talking, thanks to its spacey theme.
Then Gaga finally released the album of the same name and it sold 1.1 million in its debut week on the charts, doing what no one has done since 2005. To celebrate her successes, Gaga is set to open the VMAs this year. Anything is possible with Gaga kicking off the show.
Nominated Video: "Super Bass"
Her Massive Year: Since hitting up the VMA Pre-Show last September, putting on what she described as an "amazing look" along with will.i.am, Nicki Minaj dropped her debut album, Pink Friday. The album debuted at #2 on the charts, only topped by Kanye West's Runaway, leaving Minaj feeling "so grateful and kind of still in shock."
In March, Minaj proclaimed she was "letting it all hang out" in her "Super Bass" video. Whatever she did, it worked, earning her first VMA nomination. Then she not only had a "crazy" set on the I Am Still Music Tour along with Lil Wayne, she also told us that touring with Britney Spears "raises the bar" for her own stage show.
Nominated Video: "Rolling in the Deep"
Her Massive Year: Adele's 21 was a smash from the start, hitting #1 on the charts in its first week. Then, week after week, the album kept reaching #1. Adele's only hiccup in her banner year was having to shuffle around tour dates after she got sick in June.
Adele bounced back in a big way by earning seven noms for her video, feeling "flabbergasted" by the honor. Just weeks ago, her album topped the charts again, as the singer geared up for the VMAs and her performance on the show.
The 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards will air live Sunday from 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.