The Best and Worst Choreography Up for a 2015 VMA

July 22, 2015

What does MTV look for in choreography? The VMA nomination process is notoriously secretive (though that hasn’t protected the network from angry Twitter rants about racially prejudiced choices). Most people assume it’s simply based off of whatever MTV thinks will attract the most viewers. The 2015 nominees have been announced, with five very distinct choices for Best Choreography, offering us a clue about what the network thinks will excite its audience dance-wise.

Chet Faker’s “Gold” choreographed by 
Ryan Heffington

Most of us were expecting to see Heffington nominated for his viral Sia videos starring Maddie Ziegler. Instead, he got a nod for this sexy, lyrical hip hop trio on roller skates. There are a few ice skating moves (i.e. painfully flexed-footed arabesques), but the best parts are when the dancers pull out so-bad-they’re-good movements like head rolls and booty pops while beautifully flowing downhill on their wheels. It makes you want to go back to the ’80s.

OK Go’s “I Won’t Let You Down” choreographed by OK Go, air:man and Mori Harano

This video is my hands-down favorite of the bunch. It showcases OK Go’s trademark nerdy fun aesthetic as the camera follows the band scooting around on seated Honda UNI-CUB moving chairs. The video is shot in one take by a drone that gets in close then flies up high to capture birds-eye views of Busby Berkeley-style ensemble work, complete with synchronized umbrella-ography. Beyond the skill required to actually pull this off (with what looks like hundreds of Japanese dancers), the sheer creativity behind the concept is why it gets my vote.

Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” choreographed by Nappy Tabs

The incredible Philip Chbeeb pops and locks his way through a Southern California neighborhood, in and out of increasingly fancy houses as he ostensibly climbs the social ladder. The things he can do with his body are mesmerizing, although I was hoping for more complex partner work from Nappy Tabs during Chbeeb’s brief bit with a rich housewife.

Beyoncé’s “7/11” choreographed by Beyoncé, Chris Grant, and additional choreography by Gabriel Valenciano

This mock DIY-style video of a booze-filled girls’ weekend features Beyoncé and crew acting silly in a hotel. Though there are great touches—like Beyoncé talking into her foot like it’s a phone—overall the dance movement is fun, but a bit too ‘meh’ to feel award-worthy.

Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar’s “Never Catch Me” choreographed by 
Keone and Mari Madrid

A pair of kids dancing at their own funeral then running away from it seems like a risky concept to try to tackle in a music video. But this team somehow pulls it off. The dynamic movement is compelling and age-appropriate, and—as performed by two incredibly talented youngsters—surprisingly uplifting.