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Every MTV VMAs Video of the Year Winner from 1984 to Now and the Videos They Beat

Which winning music video is your favorite?

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ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

MTV has crowned 35 music videos with the title of Video of the Year since 1984—the year that the MTV Video Music Awards first aired three years after the network launched.

 

Another video will join the pantheon of winners when the 2019 VMAs airs on August 26, but until then, let’s quickly recap the past winners and their contenders. Notably, some of the most-memorable videos in music history ended up losing: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in 1984, Madonna’ “Vogue” in 1990, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 1992, Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” in 1996, Backstreet Boys’s “I Want It That Way” in 1999, NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” in 2000, Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” in 2001, Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” in 2013 and Childish Gambino’s “This is America” in 2018. 

 

That’s not to say the list of champions isn’t strong because it sure is with such winners as Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Pearl Jam, TLC, Sinéad O'Connor, R.E.M., Aerosmith, Eminem, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and Swift.

 

2019: Winner TBD on August 26

Nominees: 

  • 21 Savage (featuring J. Cole) “a lot” 
  • Billie Eilish “bad guy” 
  • Ariana Grande “thank u, next” 
  • Jonas Brothers “Sucker”
  • Lil Nas X (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus) “Old Town Road (Remix)” 
  • Taylor Swift “You Need to Calm Down”

2018: Camila Cabello (featuring Young Thug) “Havana”

Other nominees: 

  • The Carters (featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z) “Apeshit” 
  • Drake “God's Plan” 
  • Childish Gambino “This is America” 
  • Ariana Grande “No Tears Left To Cry”
  • Bruno Mars (featuring Cardi B) “Finesse (Remix)”

2017: Kendrick Lamar “HUMBLE”

Other nominees: 

  • Alessia Cara “Scars to Your Beautiful” 
  • DJ Khaled (featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller) “Wild Thoughts” 
  • Bruno Mars “24K Magic” 
  • The Weeknd “Reminder”

2016: Beyoncé “Formation”

Other nominees: 

  • Adele “Hello”
  • Justin Bieber “Sorry”
  • Drake “Hotline Bling” 
  • Kanye West “Famous”

2015: Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar) “Bad Blood”

Other nominees: 

  • Beyoncé “7/11”
  • Kendrick Lamar “Alright”
  • Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) “Uptown Funk”
  • Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud”

2014: Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball”

Other nominees: 

  • Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX) “Fancy” 
  • Beyoncé (featuring Jay-Z) “Drunk in Love” 
  • Sia “Chandelier”
  • Pharrell Williams “Happy”

2013: Justin Timberlake “Mirrors” 

Other nominees: 

  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis “Thrift Shop”
  • Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven”
  • Taylor Swift “I Knew You Were Trouble”
  • Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell) “Blurred Lines”

2012: Rihanna (featuring Calvin Harris) “We Found Love” 

Other nominees: 

  • Drake (featuring Rihanna) “Take Care” 
  • Gotye (featuring Kimbra) “Somebody That I Used to Know” 
  • M.I.A. “Bad Girls”
  • Katy Perry “Wide Awake”

2011: Katy Perry “Firework”

Other nominees: 

  • Adele “Rolling in the Deep” 
  • Beastie Boys “Make Some Noise” 
  • Bruno Mars “Grenade”
  • Tyler, the Creator “Yonkers”

2010: Lady Gaga “Bad Romance”

Other nominees: 

  • B.o.B (featuring Hayley Williams) “Airplanes” 
  • Eminem “Not Afraid” 
  • Florence and the Machine “Dog Days Are Over” 
  • Lady Gaga (featuring Beyoncé) “Telephone”
  • Thirty Seconds to Mars “Kings and Queens”

2009: Beyoncé “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”

Other nominees: 

  • Eminem “We Made You” 
  • Lady Gaga “Poker Face”
  • Britney Spears “Womanizer” 
  • Kanye West “Love Lockdown”

2008: Britney Spears “Piece of Me”

Other nominees: 

  • Chris Brown “Forever” 
  • Jonas Brothers “Burnin' Up”
  • Pussycat Dolls “When I Grow Up” 
  • The Ting Tings “Shut Up and Let Me Go”

2007: Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z) “Umbrella” 

Other nominees: 

  • Beyoncé “Irreplaceable”
  • Justice “D.A.N.C.E.”
  • Justin Timberlake “What Goes Around... Comes Around” 
  • Kanye West “Stronger”
  • Amy Winehouse “Rehab”

2006: Panic! at the Disco “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”

Other nominees: 

  • Christina Aguilera “Ain't No Other Man” 
  • Madonna “Hung Up”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”
  • Shakira (featuring Wyclef Jean) “Hips Don't Lie”

2005: Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Other nominees: 

  • Coldplay “Speed of Sound” 
  • Snoop Dogg (featuring Pharrell) “Drop It Like It's Hot” 
  • Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl”
  • Kanye West “Jesus Walks”

2004: OutKast “Hey Ya!”

Other nominees: 

  • D12 “My Band”
  • Jay-Z “99 Problems”
  • Britney Spears “Toxic”
  • Usher (featuring Ludacris and Lil Jon) “Yeah!”

2003: Missy Elliott “Work It” 

Other nominees: 

  • 50 Cent “In da Club” 
  • Johnny Cash “Hurt”
  • Eminem “Lose Yourself” 
  • Justin Timberlake “Cry Me a River”

2002: Eminem “Without Me”

Other nominees: 

  • Linkin Park “In the End” 
  • NSYNC “Gone” 
  • Nas “One Mic”
  • P.O.D. “Alive” 
  • The White Stripes “Fell in Love with a Girl”

2001: Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa and P!nk (featuring Missy Elliott) “Lady Marmalade”

Other nominees: 

  • Missy Elliott “Get Ur Freak On” 
  • Eminem (featuring Dido) “Stan” 
  • Fatboy Slim “Weapon of Choice” 
  • Janet Jackson “All for You” 
  • U2 “Beautiful Day”

2000: Eminem “The Real Slim Shady” 

Other nominees: 

  • Blink-182 “All the Small Things” 
  • D'Angelo “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” 
  • NSYNC “Bye Bye Bye”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers “Californication”

1999: Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)” 

Other nominees: 

  • Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” 
  • Korn “Freak on a Leash”
  • Ricky Martin “Livin' la Vida Loca” 
  • Will Smith (featuring Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee) “Wild Wild West”

1998: Madonna “Ray of Light”

Other nominees: 

  • Brandy and Monica “The Boy is Mine” 
  • Puff Daddy “It's All About the Benjamins” (Rock Remix) 
  • Will Smith “Gettin' Jiggy wit It”
  • The Verve “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

1997: Jamiroquai “Virtual Insanity”

Other nominees: 

  • Beck “The New Pollution” 
  • Jewel “You Were Meant for Me” 
  • Nine Inch Nails “The Perfect Drug” 
  • No Doubt “Don't Speak”

1996: The Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight”

Other nominees: 

  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony “Tha Crossroads”
  • Foo Fighters “Big Me” 
  • Alanis Morissette “Ironic”

1995: TLC “Waterfalls” 

Other nominees: 

  • Green Day “Basket Case” 
  • Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson “Scream”
  • Weezer “Buddy Holly”

1994: Aerosmith “Cryin’”

Other nominees: 

  • Beastie Boys “Sabotage” 
  • Nirvana “Heart-Shaped Box” 
  • R.E.M. “Everybody Hurts”

1993: Pearl Jam “Jeremy”

Other nominees: 

  • Aerosmith “Livin' on the Edge” 
  • En Vogue “Free Your Mind”
  • Peter Gabriel “Digging in the Dirt”
  • R.E.M. “Man on the Moon”

1992: Van Halen “Right Now” 

Other nominees: 

  • Def Leppard “Let's Get Rocked” 
  • Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” 
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge”

1991: R.E.M. “Losing My Religion” 

Other nominees: 

  • C+C Music Factory “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” 
  • Deee-Lite “Groove Is in the Heart” 
  • Divinyls “I Touch Myself” 
  • Chris Isaak “Wicked Game” 
  • Queensrÿche “Silent Lucidity”

1990: Sinéad O'Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U” 

Other nominees: 

  • Aerosmith “Janie's Got a Gun” 
  • Don Henley “The End of the Innocence” 
  • Madonna “Vogue”

1989: Neil Young “This Note's for You”

Other nominees: 

  • Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy” 
  • Michael Jackson “Leave Me Alone”
  • Madonna “Like a Prayer”
  • Steve Winwood “Roll with It”

1988: INXS “Need You Tonight“ / “Mediate” 

Other nominees: 

  • George Harrison “When We Was Fab” 
  • Bruce Springsteen “Tunnel of Love”
  • U2 “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” 
  • U2 “Where the Streets Have No Name”

1987: Peter Gabriel “Sledgehammer”

Other nominees: 

  • Genesis “Land of Confusion”
  • Paul Simon “The Boy in the Bubble” 
  • U2 “With or Without You”
  • Steve Winwood “Higher Love”

1986: Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”

Other nominees: 

  • a-ha “Take On Me”
  • Godley & Creme “Cry” 
  • Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” 
  • Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere”

 

1985: Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” (video not available)

Other nominees: 

  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Don't Come Around Here No More” 
  • David Lee Roth “California Girls”
  • David Lee Roth “Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody” 
  • USA for Africa “We Are the World”

1984: The Cars “You Might Think”

Other nominees: 

  • Herbie Hancock “Rockit”
  • Michael Jackson “Thriller” 
  • Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” 
  • The Police “Every Breath You Take”

 

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