By CHRIS TALBOTT
There may be no baby bump to talk about this year, but given its track record, the MTV Video Music Awards will surely provide some water cooler moments when the show airs 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 is set to kick off the show with A$AP Rocky. Rihanna and Drake are the show’s top nominees with five apiece.
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).
The awards will be held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center for the first time. The venue will be overflowing with hunky teens idols: Rival British boy bands One Direction and The Wanted will be there, and just maybe Justin Bieber, who’s up for three moonman trophies.
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. 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.
The action will start an hour earlier, at 8 p.m. EDT; MTV moved up the start time 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.