Any awards show whose prize statuette looks like a foil-wrapped chocolate astronaut is not, by definition, a prestige event. And yet the 26-year-old MTV Video Music Awards continue to deliver pure gold in one specific arena: outrageous, ungovernable watchability. As anarchic and overstimulated as it may be, who are we kidding? We love the chaos. Here, our top five reasons for tuning in to the show, which airs live on MTV on Sept. 12.
1 Kanye West and Taylor Swift may reunite
In the annals of an event famous for letting its pop stars’ ids run wild, Kanye’s outburst when the country-pop princess beat Beyoncé for Best Female Video in 2009 still towers above them all. One year later, the stage is set for what may well be the pair’s first reunion since that infamous moment of Awardus Interruptus. Will they dutifully satirize it? Steer clear? Tickle-fight? Only God (and Viacom) knows for sure.
2 Chelsea Handler is hosting
While recent emcees like Russell Brand and Jack Black were all loose-cannon twitchery, Red Bull-ish and manic, late-night TV star Handler is more martini-esque: a comedian of bracing, lemony astringence. If anyone can corral this three-ring freakfest with a single withering stare, she can.
3 There are sure to be some crazy live performances
Believe it or not, they do manage to squeeze in a few actual performances amid all the madness and Moonmen. The aforementioned Kanye will bring it live (unless, of course, Swift cuts him short; revenge, a chilly dish!). And don’t discount Eminem and Usher, plus relative upstarts Drake, B.o.B, and — cue national tween-hormone power surge — Justin Bieber, all of whom are set to take the stage.
4 Lady Gaga
With 13 nominations, Our Lady of Perpetual Next Level-osity is practically the show’s artist in residence. Last year, she brought date Kermit the Frog, smeared herself in stage blood, and accepted her Best New Artist prize in a red lace face cage. This year, will she bedazzle a burka, wet-nurse a litter of meerkats, and wear Elmo as a hat? Who knows!
5 Anything can happen
And oh, how it has. See: Diana Ross cupping Lil’ Kim’s purple pasty (1999), Lil Mama stage-crashing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ”Empire State of Mind” (2009), Madonna tongue-kissing Britney (2003), Eminem tongue-lashing sock puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (2002)…the list goes on. And this year, it will almost certainly get longer. We can’t wait.