More often than not, MTV does a pretty good job with awarding the appropriate artists at the Video Music Awards. They’re certainly batting a higher average than the Oscars—good luck finding three Video of the Year winners from the past decade worse than Crash, Million Dollar Baby and A Beautiful Mind—and the less said about the Grammys in this regard, the better. Still, no award show is perfect, and over the course of their 27 years, MTV and the voting public have ended up with a handful of winners that give us pause when looked at today. Some made marginal sense at the time, while others were always bizarre, but today, they stand as the ten least explicable wins in the history of the Award Show. History may have forgotten them, but we at Popdust never forget.
10. Limp Bizkit – “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)”
Category: Best Rock Video
Beat Out: Aerosmith’s “Jaded,” Linkin Park’s “Crawling,” Staind’s “It’s Been a While,” Weezer’s “Hash Pipe”
Some day, we will have to explain to our children how our nation let Limp Bizkit win Best Rock Video two years in a row at the VMAs—and neither time for “Nookie,” even. One year after taking home the honors for the marginally tolerable “Break Stuff,” the Bizkids made it two in a row with the outright-deplorable “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” in ’01. Admittedly, it wasn’t the strongest group of nominees to begin with—rock was at something of an all-time low point in 2001, as you can see from the list of videos it beat, the cream of which is probably only Weezer’s 12th or 13th best single—but still, damn.
9. No Doubt – “It’s My Life”
Category: Best Pop Video
Beat Out: Hillary Duff’s “Come Clean,” Avril Lavigne’s “Don’t Tell Me,” Jessica Simpson’s “With You,” Britney Spears’ “Toxic”
Not that there was anything so terrible about No Doubt’s highly inoffensive cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life,” but it was a little weird that this marginal single recorded for the band’s greatest hits album—the last single the band has released to date—was winning such a big category as Best Pop Video. Not to mention that one of the clips it beat, Britney’s “Toxic,” basically resurrected the career of one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, and was a much better song besides.
8. Mick Jagger & David Bowie – “Dancin’ in the Street”
Category: Best Overall Performance
Beat Out: Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” Sting’s “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free”
There’s definitely at least one superlative merited by the overall performance of Mick Jagger and David Bowie in “Dancing in the Street,” but “Best” probably isn’t the one. The absurdly ridiculous video features two of the coolest human beings in rock and roll history dancing (and flirting) like absolute idiots for three minutes, making Kevin Bacon’s angry-dancing scene in Footloose look tasteful and restrained by comparison. The video ends with a freeze-frame of the duo’s asses, which…yeah. And not like it even needs the competition, but Robert Palmer was pretty damn badass in that “Addicted to Love” video.
7. Arrested Development – “People Everyday”
Category: Best Rap Video
Beat Out: Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray”
We’re fans of the AD here at Popdust, and “People Everyday” has endured as one of the more fun jams of the era for sure. But Arrested Development had already taken the Best Rap Video moonman home the year before for their definitive hit, “Tennessee,” and by the time of their ’93 win, there was another nominee that was far more deserving of the distinction—Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” only the most iconic rap music video, like, ever. The award has aged particularly poorly due to the fact that shortly after the snub, Dre and Snoop went on to change the direction of hip-hop for the rest of the decade, while Arrested Development were basically never heard from again.
6. USA for Africa – “We Are the World”
Category: Best Group Video
Beat Out: The Cars’ “Drive,” Eurythmics’ “Would I Lie to You?,” Huey Lewis and the News’ “If This is It,” U2′s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
The Cars’ biggest-ever chart hit, the Top 40 breakthrough for U2, and a fine single and video from Eurythmics to choose from, and what does the MTV voting public choose as the Best Group Video from 1985? USA For Africa’s “We are the World,” a celebrity-laden charity single that Americans were almost contractually obligated to send to #1 that year, but which no one in their right mind would argue was a better video or song than the other nominees. Perhaps even more shocking than the Group Video win was the fact that it won Viewer’s Choice as well, beating Tom Petty, Don Henley and a pair of David Lee Roth videos. Did people actually like this song back then? Even “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was 20 times better!
For the top five most perpelxing VMA wins, including the two strangest-ever winners for Video of the Year, click NEXT.