MTV EMA’s are not European awards

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The 2016 MTV EMA’s (also known as the MTV Europe Music Awards) will be held at the Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on 6 November 2016.

It will be hosted by Bebe Rexha. This will be the third time the awards have taken place in the Netherlands, and the second time Rotterdam has been the host city. The awards will be held in the same venue as the 1997 MTV EMAs.

Despite being branded as a ‘European’ show it’s mostly an outdated American tv network promoting itself as an authority on music and entertainment around the continent. 

Of all the nominees less than 20% is actually European. Several European countries have ‘special’ categories to determine who deserves an award in their specific country and to give it a certain Euro-feel. 

Of the 13 performances only four are from the old continent and two of them are DJ’s, Rotterdam native Afrojack and the best DJ in the world Martin Garrix, also Dutch. Swedish star Sara Larsson and a Danish pop and soul band Lukas Graham complete the European line-up on Sunday.

The other performers, though some good ones are all from North America: DNCE, Bruno Mars, Shawn Mendes, Bebe Rexha, The Weeknd, OneRepublic, Martin Garrix, Afrojack, Kings of Leon, Green Day and Lady Gaga.

Some of the European presenters include Charli XCX, Tinie Tempah, Idris Elba, Jourdan Dunn (all British) and vampire girl Nina Dobrev (Bulgaria). Along with American host Bebe Rexha the other presenter are all American too.

Nominations

So what about the nominees? Well, same story! Mostly Americans.

Here they are:

BEST SONG 
Adele – “Hello”
Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
Lukas Graham – “7 Years”
Mike Posner – “I Took A Pill In Ibiza (Seeb Remix)”
Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work”

BEST VIDEO
Beyoncé – “Formation”
Coldplay – “Up & Up”
Kanye West – “Famous”
Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”
The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk – “Starboy”

BEST FEMALE
Adele
Beyoncé
Lady Gaga
Rihanna
Sia

BEST MALE
Calvin Harris
Drake
Justin Bieber
Shawn Mendes
The Weeknd

BEST LIVE
Adele
Beyoncé
Coldplay
Green Day
Twenty One Pilots

BEST NEW
Bebe Rexha
DNCE
Lukas Graham
The Chainsmokers
Zara Larsson

BEST POP
Ariana Grande
Fifth Harmony
Justin Bieber
Rihanna
Selena Gomez
Shawn Mendes

BEST ROCK
Coldplay
Green Day
Metallica
Muse
Red Hot Chili Peppers

BEST ALTERNATIVE
Kings of Leon
Radiohead
Tame Impala
The 1975
Twenty One Pilots

BEST HIP HOP
Drake
Future
G-Eazy
Kanye West
Wiz Khalifa

BEST ELECTRONIC
Afrojack
Calvin Harris
David Guetta
Major Lazer
Martin Garrix

BEST PUSH
Alessia Cara
Anne-Marie
Bebe Rexha
Blossoms
Charlie Puth
DNCE
Dua Lipa
Elle King
Halsey
Jack Garratt
Jonas Blue
Lukas Graham

BIGGEST FANS
Ariana Grande
Beyoncé
Justin Bieber
Lady Gaga
Shawn Mendes

BEST WORLD STAGE
Duran Duran – Piazza Del Duomo, Milan (2015)
Ellie Goulding – Piazza Del Duomo, Milan (2015)
Jess Glynne – Isle of MTV, Malta (2016)
Martin Garrix – Isle of MTV, Malta (2015)
One Republic – MTV Evolution, Philippines (2016)
Tinie Tempah – MTV Crashes, Plymouth (2015)
Tomorrowland – Belgium (2016)
Wiz Khalifa – Isle of MTV, Malta (2016)

BEST US ACT
Ariana Grande
Beyonce
Charlie Puth
Kanye West
Twenty One Pilots

BEST CANADIAN ACT
Alessia Cara
Justin Bieber
Drake
Shawn Mendes
The Weeknd

BEST UK & IRELAND ACT
Adele
Coldplay
Little Mix
Zayn
Years & Years

There are also some categories for other regions and continents, but none of them will be featured in the live show.

Why don’t the MTV European Music Awards support European Music?

The MTV Europe Music Awards “were established in 1994 by MTV Networks Europe to celebrate the most popular songs and singers in Europe”.

A large sum of money on this being a fairly accurate description of what the MTV EMAs are. So why then, in 2016, are less than a third of the nominated acts actually from Europe?

Admittedly, the EMAs do not have a rich history of being representative of European artists. Within the main (ie. televised) categories, the nomination pool has always been very much a hodgepodge of mostly established American names, a good showing of UK artists, a handful of continental Europeans, and assorted acts from around the world.

In 1998, concerted efforts were made to award more European talent, when categories were added to represent more European acts, expanding the number of included territories year on year, and introducing the ‘Europe’s Favourite Act’ award in 2008 (televised, and won by Emre Aydin, Turkey). This was replaced with ‘Best European Act’ in 2009 before doing away with it entirely in 2011 to usher in the ‘Best Worldwide Act’ category and completely eradicate any sense of European dominance at… the Europe Music Awards. In the three years since ‘Best Worldwide Act’ was introduced, it has been won by China twice (Han Geng, 2012 and Chris Lee, 2013) and Korea once (Big Bang, 2011). Imagine the frustration of the political Eurovision alliances on a vast scale; there’s just no stopping the East Asia voting blocs.

While the televised coverage of the EMAs hasn’t exactly been a real platform for showcasing European artists to a massive audience, at least we were allowed to host it. Between the first EMAs in 1994 and the 2001 ceremony hosted by Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Ali G, six European artists took on the role of MC, interspersed with Jenny McCarthy in 1998 and Wyclef Jean in 2000. In the 13 years since, Sacha Baron Cohen made a return as Borat and Heidi Klum hosted the 2012 ceremony, but every single one of the 11 other hosts have been American, including Katy Perry. Twice. (Pub quiz trivia: the only other person to host the EMAs twice is Irish charisma void Ronan Keating.)

Live entertainment

Until 2003/2004, at least half, and sometimes up to three quarters of the performers could be relied upon to fly European (mostly British) flags. That number has slowly depleted to make way for more and more huge name US artists. In 2013 the only European act to perform alongside a line up of 10 American artists were the Swedish duo Icona Pop.

What are MTV playing at? What should be, and perhaps did begin as a celebration of European music, and an opportunity to showcase European talent to a much wider, global audience, is now merely another promotional vehicle for the already ubiquitous American artists you can see on mainstream charts the world over. What’s the point in holding the MTV VMAs twice?

The audience figures for the EMA’s are huge – and it’s particularly galling when you realize what a missed promotional opportunity they are for so many European acts. The 2015 ceremony reached a new peak of 55 million worldwide viewers (11.5 million in the US), an impressive number compared to the 8.5 million US viewers who tuned in to the more explicitly US-centric MTV VMAs this year.

It could be said that the viewing figures for the EMAs continue to rise in tandem with the huge mainstream performers – but that still doesn’t explain why the awards and the presenters are less and less likely to be from European countries, and even less likely to be A-list megastars. P Diddy hosted the awards in 2002 and Kylie Minogue, Marilyn Manson, Pamela Anderson and Pierce Brosnan presented awards. Redfoo – the older guy from strange Uncle/Nephew frat band LMFAO – hosted in 2013, and featured appearances including a faceless “star” from an MTV teen drama and Bridgit Mendler, the not quite Carly Rae Jepsen of 2013.

The argument holds even less water when presented with the annual TV audience for the Eurovision Song Contest – an average worldwide total of 125 million. If 125 million people around the globe are willing to watch the Ukrainian Uncle Fester hurdy-gurdy dance in a tinfoil Lady Gaga halloween costume, surely they’d tune in for a bit of Erik Hassle or MØ?

Rotterdam 2016

While it’s obvious that the MTV Europe Music Awards are now named mainly because they are hosted in European countries, the big question remains as to why the awards are dominated by American exports? The continent of Europe, unlike North America, does suffer from language barriers halting the spread of music in some ways. Anomalies like 2004’s “Dragostea Din Tei” are few and far between, and if a massive hit in Romania is recorded in Romanian, it usually just remains a massive hit in Romania. As the most widely spoken language in Europe, English language pop will always be dominant. As the continental domination of Pharrell’s “Happy” would show you, America does account for a large portion of the European listenership taste, but isn’t this American whitewash of a European awards show just undermining the idea that cross-cultural European pop stars can compete with the best? Can they actually cut it against the likes of Katy Perry, Eminem, Miley, Pharrell and Beyoncé?

There is a phenomenal amount of talent coming out of Europe at the moment. MTV should be servicing these artists with the chance to break on a world stage, not furnishing massive international artists with multiple promo opportunities and further chances to peddle their wares. In short, the answer is: yes!

The MTV EMAs will air on Sunday, Nov. 6, from Rotterdam, the Netherlands.