Taylor Swift led nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards, but quickly was embroiled in controversy when rapper Nicki Minaj suggested she was passed over because of racial bias.
The premier music video event announced Tuesday that Swift was in the running in nine categories for two hits from her blockbuster album “1989.”
The host of the August 30 gala in Los Angeles will be singer Miley Cyrus, who at the 2013 awards stripped down to a flesh-colored bikini and twerked with Robin Thicke — adding to her notoriety but also bringing the bottom-thrusting dance move into the mainstream.
Minaj, one of the top female stars in hip-hop, criticized MTV’s choices and hinted that she was ignored for Video of the Year as she is a fulsome African American woman.
She noted that her video for “Anaconda” — which is dominated by twerking — broke what was then a record for first-day views and turned into a popular meme for Halloween costumes.
“When the ‘other’ girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination,” she wrote on Twitter.
“If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” she tweeted.
“Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it,” she wrote.
“Anaconda” was nominated in three categories including Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video.
Swift broke Minaj’s first-day view record with “Bad Blood,” in which the 25-year-old pop superstar appears as an action hero with a bevy of fellow stars including actress Jessica Alba and model Cindy Crawford.
Swift, who has cast herself as a feminist, responded to Minaj by inviting her to share the stage if “Bad Blood” wins for Video of the Year.
“I’ve done nothing but love and support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot,” Swift tweeted.
Minaj said she was baffled by Swift’s comments and urged her to speak out on portrayals of African American women.
Two African American artists were nominated for Video of the Year — pop diva Beyonce and rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Beyonce was nominated in a total of five categories for “7/11,” in which the famously slender singer dances in locations including a hotel balcony, a bathroom and in front of a Christmas tree.
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was nominated in six categories including Video of the Year for “Thinking Out Loud,” which shows him ballroom dancing.
In addition to “Bad Blood,” Swift was nominated in two categories for “Blank Space,” in which she plays a romantic villain feuding with a lover at a mansion.
“Blank Space” is the fourth most-viewed video ever on YouTube, with more than one billion views.
The racial dynamics of the nominations mirrored a debate at the latest Grammys where critics questioned the four nominations given to white Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, although she ultimately went home empty-handed.
Rapper Azealia Banks was especially outspoken against Azalea, accusing her of exploiting African American culture.
Banks offered further commentary Tuesday, saying that she deserved both Grammys and Video Music Awards.
“But I’ll never get one because America doesn’t like opinionated black women,” she tweeted.
by Shaun Tandon