7 VMA-Nominated Music Videos Global Citizens Need to Watch
Lin-Manuel, Kendrick, Coldplay, and more.
A good music video tells a compelling story in a new way. It challenges the viewer to confront issues, local and global, that can sometimes be hard to put into words, or lyrics.
On Tuesday, MTV released it’s 2017 Video Music Awards (VMA) nominees, which for the first time eliminated gendered awards categories, combining the best male and female video categories into one: “Artist of the Year.”
And this year, also for the first time ever, the VMAs will launch a new award for “Best Fight Against the System.”
The videos that fit into this department confront some of the biggest issues in the past year, including race, gender, class, body-image, religion, protest.
Among the “Best Fight Against the System” songs, and the other VMA-nominated music videos, are several gems that speak to Global Citizen’s core issues, such as women and girls, citizenship, and health.
Here are seven VMA-nominated music videos Global Citizens should absolutely be watching right now:
“HUMBLE,” Kendrick Lamar
A critique of the excesses of fame, Lamar’s “HUMBLE” has been called “scathing,” “anti-conformist,” and “Too F*cking Good.” In it, the artist praises natural beauty in an era of super-charged beauty standards, rapping “I'm so f--kin' sick and tired of the Photoshop,” as the video shows a split screen image of a black woman with and without makeup.
“Immigrants: We Get the Job Done,” The Hamilton Mixtape
An ode to the undocumented, and under-appreciated, laborers that make up the backbone of the US economy, “Immigrants: We Get the Job Done” brings together a motley crew of rappers, actors, and poets, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Riz Ahmed, and Calle 13’s Residente. The video depicts workers of all backgrounds toiling in low-income jobs, as ICE agents attempt to track down and apprehend them.
“A Head Full of Dreams,” Coldplay
Filmed in the streets of Mexico City, the powerful music video for “A Head Full of Dreams” begins by sampling Charlie Chaplin's speech from the film, “The Great Dictator.” “We all want to help one another,” Chaplin’s monologue goes, as grainy images of men and women, young and old, flit by on screen, “Human beings are like that.”
“Surefire,” John Legend
Two lovers — one an undocumented Hispanic man, the other a hijab-wearing Muslim woman — must confront myriad challenges to their budding relationship: parental disapproval, a deportation, unprovoked harassment. The video, director Cole Wiley told Rolling Stone, was meant to show that “love is the most powerful force in the universe” and that “we are more capable of doing more good than ever before.”
“Scars to Your Beautiful,” Alessia Cara
Singer Alessia Cara, who at 20-years-old is already changing the world, used her video “Scars to Your Beautiful” to tell the stories of those who, for one reason or another, are marginalized or judged for how they look (or don’t look): transgender individuals, cancer patients, and others with visible and non-visible scars.
“Scars to your beautiful is a reminder that beauty isn’t only one look, shape, size, or colour,” the singer wrote on Instagram.
“Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL,” Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley
A powerful homage to the Standing Rock protests that for months rocked the state of North Dakota and the world, “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” features native artists and activists singing and rapping about their struggle to protect sacred lands from developers hoping to extract crude oil.
“To all my native people, recognize yourself, keep your head up // To all my tribal people, recognize yourself, keep your head up,” the refrain repeats.
“Light,” Big Sean ft. Jeremih
Big Sean’s music video for “Light” recognizes the victims of gun violence and racial discrimination in the United States. A young girl caught in the crossfire of gang violence, two unarmed black boys shot by police, and a young woman wearing a hijab who is mugged and stabbed are the victims and the heroes of this powerful music video.