There may be no baby bump to talk about this year, but given its track record, the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles will surely provide some water cooler moments Thursday.
Last year, Beyonce set a tweets-per-second record on Twitter when she revealed her pregnancy at the awards. While that’s a tough act to follow, there may be other opportunities to keep tongues wagging (and fingers typing).
Nicki Minaj, who recently caused a stir with a rhyme endorsing Republican Mitt Romney for president, has a planned collaboration with a special guest. Green Day is expected to perform despite lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s trip to an emergency room earlier this week.
And Rihanna, who arrived with her hair in a pixie cut and in a stunning scoop-backed white dress, is set to kick off the show with A$AP Rocky. Rihanna and Drake are the show’s top nominees with five apiece.
Demi Lovato took home the night’s first moonman trophy, winning best video with a message for “Skyscraper” on the pre-awards show. She then performed for the crowd outside the Staples Center.
It’s unclear if Drake will attend. He’s pitted against Chris Brown in one category — a noteworthy competition given that earlier this summer, their entourages were involved in a bottle-throwing brawl at a New York nightclub where both were present. The fight left several people injured and sparked lawsuits.
Brown is not scheduled to perform, but if he attends, eyes will be on a possible interaction with Rihanna. Though he once attacked his ex-girlfriend, the two have resumed their friendship, and Rihanna declared her love for Brown in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last month (however, she stressed they were not a couple).
MTV tried something new this year, unveiling a double-decker red carpet that featured two stories of stars and celebrity. Thousands of fans lined up outside the show’s new home in Los Angeles.
The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” at the appearance of members of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team. And heartthrobs in the boy band One Direction drew some of the loudest cheers of the day, though fans had to labor under a scorching sun with the temperature at 90 degrees.
Ne-Yo, wearing a long sleeve black shirt, camouflage pants and a black fedora, said he was feeling the heat.
“I’m sweating like a fool,” he said. “But I look good.”
Pink looked like seemed to be keeping her cool with a wavy blonde mohawk and said she was looking forward to debuting a new song
“I’m excited,” she said. “I like to sing.”
Taylor Swift is set to play her infectious runaway hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” live for the first time, while Lil Wayne, Pink and Alicia Keys will debut new songs. Frank Ocean will sing for perhaps his biggest audience to date. The women’s gold-winning Olympic U.S. gymnastics team will make an appearance as presenters, along with Psy, the Korean rapping YouTube sensation, Katy Perry and the recently shorn Miley Cyrus.
The VMAs also will begin acknowledging electronic dance music with a new category and Calvin Harris will serve as house DJ.
“I’ll be playing music in between things going on,” he said in an interview on the red carpet. “I’m like the bread in between the meat and the cheese.”
There also will be a teaser of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2.” And for the first time MTV will announce an award via Facebook. Best rock video will be given out early in the show’s run via a “Thank You Cam” live stream that can only be accessed at MTV’s Facebook page.
MTV moved up the start time to 8 p.m. EDT so the show would not conflict with President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., which is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. EDT.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, were on a few minds along the red carpet.
Tom Petty and Regina Spektor said that it if they could have anyone appear in one of their music videos, they’d pick the first lady.
“I would have to wear such high heels,” said Spektor, whose video is up for an art-direction award. “She is the most stunning, tall woman.”
Petty called Bill Clinton’s address Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention “one of the great American speeches I’ve ever heard” and said he’s “still kind of high” from hearing his band’s song play before President Obama took the podium.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Follow her at http://twitter.com/apsandy. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.