The roster for this year’s VMAs is teeming with megastars who’ve each had a killer year.
Between Ariana Grande inspiring us to say “thank u, next” and Lil Nas X taking over country music with his chart-topping hit, “Old Town Road,” the awards show is about to be epic, especially since the star-studded lineup of performers includes sweet new couple Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Lizzo, Bad Bunny, J Balvin and Taylor Swift. It is the VMAs, after all — the same show that’s given us Britney and Madonna’s famous kiss, Miley Cyrus’ twerk-tastic performance with Robin Thicke and Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress.
Let’s take a look back at this year’s nominees and their most viral moments ahead of Monday night’s show, which will surely produce plenty more Internet gold.
Lizzo Shoots the Shoot with Sasha Flute
The pop sensation, who is up for this year’s Best New Artist honor, had a breakthrough year thanks to her many talents. Not only can she sing and dance, Lizzo can also play the flute while doing both. Press play on this mind-blowing clip that shows the classically trained flautist playing a snippet of her song, “BYE Bitch,” on her flute (which she named Sasha Flute) while smashing the viral dance, the shoot.
Taylor Swift Breaks the Internet with Cryptic Palm Trees
While scrolling through Instagram, casual fans may have paused to admire this whimsical post from February and thought, “Palm trees and stars… how nice,” while die-hard Swifties stopped to strap on their investigative hard hats to decode clues about Swift’s new album Lover. At the time, the singer, who is famous for dropping hints about upcoming music, had to have known that posting the landscape shot with seven palm tree emojis as the caption would cause chaos — and it did. Once the photo hit the ‘net, all hell broke loose as fan theories about the singer’s then-mysterious upcoming seventh studio album flooded Twitter.
“My theory: Okay so in this picture there are 4 palm trees on the left (4 country albums). There are two palm trees on the right (2 pop albums). There is one large palm tree in the middle. This represents her new album. It’s gonna be a diff genre than anything she’s ever done,” one user tweeted.
My theory: Okay so in this picture there are 4 palm trees on the left (4 country albums). There are two palm trees on the right (2 pop albums). There is one large palm tree in the middle. This represents her new album. It’s gonna be a diff genre than anything she’s ever done pic.twitter.com/cVpc1mrFF0— lex (@tragicts) February 24, 2019
“Her latest photos have a colour scheme you guys!! I think we’re on to something!!!!!” another added.
The palm tree post became the first of many clues, which eventually led to Swift announcing that Lover will be released on Aug. 23, and the track list includes her current singles, “Me!” and “You Need to Calm Down.”
Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” Inspires Famous Figures to Bust a Move
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the name Billie Eilish. The 17-year-old is currently taking over the music industry with her soft, sultry voice and horror-inspired videos. The star, whose A-list fans include Julia Roberts, Melissa McCarthy and Dave Grohl, released the video for her song “bad guy,” which now has more than 474 million views and has become the No. 1 song in the country.
.@billieeilish is the first artist born this century to reach #1 on the Hot 100.— chart data (@chartdata) August 19, 2019
The viral single inspired a ton of hilarious memes featuring dance breaks from:
billie eilish really snapped during this part of bad guy pic.twitter.com/GShVOu3mMn— 𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐱 ⎊ (fan account) (@carterswrth) May 28, 2019
Lil Nas X’s Record-Breaking Hit Becomes a Kid-Approved Anthem
No one has taken over country music quite like Lil Nas X, since he released his viral single, “Old Town Road.” The song even surpassed Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” as the longest-running No. 1 song in music history.
Sending love & congrats to @LilNasX on breaking one of the longest running records in music history! We've been blessed to hold this record with a song that means a great deal to @BoyzIIMen and myself and has touched so many. Keep living your best life! ❤ pic.twitter.com/3YorLCg3lx— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) July 30, 2019
The catchy track, which was remixed by Billy Ray Cyrus, even caught the attention of North West.
Soon after, the song continued to explode once the rapper posted this performance he gave to an auditorium full of fifth graders, who sang along to every lyric, word for word.
Ariana Grande Makes Heartbreak Feel Totally Fetch
Following her engagement-then-split from Pete Davidson, Grande released this year’s breakup anthem, “thank u, next.” The single and its Mean Girls-inspired video, featuring cool mom Kris Jenner, has reached more than 414 million YouTube views and produced a ton of hilarious memes that truly capture how unpredictable love can be.
One minute, you can feel head-over-heels about a person (insert Grande’s 2018 album, Sweetener), and then the next moment, you can find yourself extremely single but loving yourself anyway (cue Grande’s followup 2019 album, thank u, next).
We Pretend Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper Fell in Love in Front of Our Eyes
A Star Is Born spurred a steady stream of romance rumors between costars Gaga and Cooper, but the rumor mill spun out of control once the two performed their hit, “Shallow,” during the 2019 Oscars. The undeniable onstage chemistry had viewers almost convinced that the on-screen couple had to be a real-life one (although that was never the case), and the Internet immediately went to work creating these hysterical memes.
Normani’s Latest Single ‘Motivates’ the Internet to Stan
Fifth Harmony’s breakout solo star Normani has solidified her spot as music’s artist to watch. Once the singer released the video for her latest single, “Motivation,” fans became vocal about how in awe they were of the star’s ability to sing and dance her butt off.
A few of her video highlights include this shot of her magically completing two pirouettes while seamlessly showing off her basketball skills.
This insane group shot of her and her dancers twerking in unison on a chain-link fence…
… and, this jaw-dropping scene where she lands in a split after holding a headstand while wearing heels in the pouring rain.
Fans immediately rushed to Twitter to process their thoughts.
Y’all don’t understand. I cried watching this video of Normani re-making scenes from videos I grew up watching — just with more chocolate girls. This would have meant everything to me.— Dani Kwateng-Clark (@danikwateng) August 16, 2019
I’m so so thankful this generation has @Normani . #Motivation
Don’t mind me I’m just emotional about Normani like the rest of my TL pic.twitter.com/uaRuCXunT5— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) August 16, 2019
Normani in the Motivation music video (2019) pic.twitter.com/Qk3tB2O9R8— Ayo Edebiri (@ayoedebiri) August 16, 2019
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards air live from Newark, New Jersey, on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.