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The 2022 MTV Video Music Awards embraces the Metaverse

This Sunday, the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards will be held in the Prudential Center, a multi-purpose indoor arena situated in Newark’s central business district in New Jersey, USA. This marks the thirty-eight year for the annual awards ceremony, which has been recognising music video prowess since 1984.


American rapper Jack Harlow, American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor LL Cool J, and Trinidadian-born rapper, singer, and songwriter Nicki Minaj will be hosting this year’s awards. Minaj will be honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, given to recording artists and music video directors for "outstanding contributions" and "profound impact" on music video and popular culture, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be honored with the prestigious Global Icon Award, which “celebrates an artist or band whose unparalleled career and continued impact and influence has maintained a unique level of global success in music and beyond, leaving an indelible mark on the music landscape”.


More importantly however, this year’s awards include a new category, under which artists are eligible to compete for “Best Metaverse Performance”. Back in November 2018, long before most of us had even heard of the Metaverse, American electronic music producer and DJ Christopher Comstock, otherwise known as Marshmello, made history by performing the first ever in-game concert in Fortnite.


Fast-forward to 2020, and Travis Scott’s Astronomical Tour in Fortnite, which attracted over 45 million viewers. Even more watch the recording of the event on YouTube which, at the time of writing, had garnered over 190 million views. In 2021 Ariana Grande performed a series on concerts, also in Fortnite, and Justin Bieber made his debut performance in the Metaverse, on the immersive extended reality, or XR, platform Wave – prior Wave performers include Jauz, Galantis, Tinashe, John Legend. And The Weeknd.


But the Metaverse isn’t reserved for Western artists. Earlier this year, Punjabi singing star Daler Mehndi perform on PartyNite Metaverse, drawing in 20 million viewers from around the world. And it hasn’t been all plain sailing, a recent Foo Fighters Super Bowl LVI virtual reality (VR) concert hosted by Meta, was allegedly beset by problems. At the time of writing, you can still catch the Foo Fighters 40-minute show on Oculus TV. While it’s great to be able to get this close to one of the world’s biggest rock bands, this is a passive VR experience, where the with no ability to move within the virtual environment.


This year’s six nominees for “Best Metaverse Performance” are: "the Rift Tour", featuring Ariana Grande (on online video game Fortnite), Blackpink's "The Virtual" (on online multiplayer battle royale game PUBG: Battlegrounds, previously known as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds), BTS (on online 3D sandbox game Minecraft), Charli XCX (on online gaming platform Roblox), Justin Bieber’s “An Interactive Virtual Experience" (on Wave), and the "Twenty One Pilots Concert Experience" (also on Roblox).


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