There are no shortage of salient stories heading into the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, and the race for Best New Artist will definitely garner its fair share of attention. And we're not just talking about the battle for boy-band supremacy between One Direction and the Wanted.
Because, sure, while 1D and the Wanted are both nominated for BNA, they're by no means the only acts who have a legitimate shot at taking home the Moonman on September 6 (they do, however, have the best bone structure): Breakout hitmakers Fun., Canadian sensation Carly Rae Jepsen and critical darling Frank Ocean are also in the running for the coveted award — and this year, it's anyone's for the taking.
After all, it'll be up to the fans to determine who wins — voting is now under way in all VMA categories, through VMA.MTV.com or via mobile phones at m.mtv.com — and given the rather fervent support both 1D and the Wanted enjoy, it's entirely possible their fanbases might split the vote, leaving the door open for someone else to sneak in and snatch Best New Artist away. But whoever ends up on top, they'll be worthy successors to the category's legacy, which includes previous winners like Lady Gaga, Eminem and Nirvana.
Both One Direction and the Wanted broke through big time over the past year, becoming sensations on both sides of the pond thanks to the success of hits like "What Makes You Beautiful" and "Glad You Came," respectively, not to mention their willingness to align themselves with Justin Bieber and take shots at Christina Aguilera. And though the two acts are evenly matched, 1D might have a slight advantage over their chiseled competitors: They're not only nominated for two awards ("Beautiful" is also up for Best Pop Video), but they're performing at the big show itself. Still, this is going to be a race that goes down to the wire.
Of course, you'd be foolish to overlook their competition: Fun. came out of nowhere to score one of the year's most indelible hits with "We Are Young," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six-consecutive weeks (follow-up single "Some Nights" continues to climb the chart and now appears poised to enter the top 10). No flash in the pan, they've continued to build on that momentum with eye-catching music videos and a show-opening performance at the MTV Movie Awards. We wouldn't bet against them here.
Speaking of momentum, there are few artists who've ridden a wave of press quite like Frank Ocean has in recent months, beginning with the brave revelation of a previous relationship with a man, continuing with the release of his lauded Channel Orange album (which debuted at #2 on the Billboard albums chart without the support of one of the nation's largest retailers, Target) and ending with his three VMA nominations. He's seemingly become the hottest artist in the world overnight, and a win in Best New Artist would not only cement his status, but it'd give his Odd Future collective its second-straight BNA Moonman, after Tyler, the Creator took home the award last year.
And finally, there's Carly Rae Jepsen, whose "Call Me Maybe" — currently in its seventh week atop the Hot 100 — has become so ubiquitous that it may have locked up song of the year honors already. And as if that weren't enough to make her a BNA favorite, consider the rather amazing list of stats she's accumulated to date, including more than 178 million YouTube views for the "Maybe" video and nearly 4 million downloads of the track (guess that Bieber endorsement really paid off). Or the fact that, with "Good Time," she's already got another certified smash waiting in the wings. Few artists have had the kind of breakout year she's strung together, and a BNA win would certainly be icing on the cake.
But who will emerge victorious in this year's ultra-competitive Best New Artist category? Well, it's up to you: Vote for your favorites online at VMA.MTV.com through your mobile phones at m.mtv.com or by texting BNA to 22444. And trust us: Every vote is gonna make a difference.