The news broke Thursday that the highest MTV Video Music Award, the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, will be bestowed upon none other than #BadGalRiRi herself, pop star Robyn Rihanna Fenty. To most (probably just the #RihannaNavy) and MTV, Rihanna is most deserving of this award. I disagree. Rihanna has only been in the game actively for just over 10 years and will undoubtedly deserve this honor at some point, but in 2016, not quite. Don’t get me wrong, ANTI is in my top five best albums of 2016 so far. She’s been coined the “best-selling digital artist of all time,” sold more than 54 million albums and 210 million tracks worldwide, and is an eight-time Grammy award winner. Rihanna is lit!
However, following Britney Spears (2011), Justin Timberlake (2013), Beyoncé (2014) and Kanye West (2015), I believe there are five other incredible artists who have the tenure, pop stardom and legacy of the former honorees. Here are the top five artists who should’ve gotten the MTV Vanguard Award this year.
1. Jenny from the Block aka J. Lo
Jennifer Lopez is arguably one of the hardest working women in show business and the most influential Latina in the United States. J. Lo went from hopping on the 6 train and being a Fly Girl in the hot '90s series In Living Color to selling over 60 million records worldwide, winning a Golden Globe for her stellar portrayal of Selena in biopic Selena and founding production company Nuyorican Productions, amassing over $200 million worldwide. On top of that, she has released eight studio albums, hosted American Idol and is currently in a Las Vegas residency. She continues to release new music and is low-key the Latina version of Beyoncé. (Don’t get me, Beyhive!) Her influence in pop culture, tenure in the music industry and impressive resume land her at the very top of my list for a Vanguard Award. After she nailed hosting the 2015 American Music Awards, it just seems right!
2. Jay Z
Jay Z is married to Beyonce, he brags different. Half of his “squad” has already won this award — Beyonce ’14 and Ye ’15 — and there is no need to describe his accomplishments and influence on pop culture. Just give this man anything he wants! Hov actually should have won this award when he came back from his "first" retirement from music with the release of The Blueprint III, but I digress.
3. Christina Aguilera
The '90s pop kid inside me just can’t seem to grasp how Britney and Justin received this award, but yet still no Xtina? They were once three peas-in-a-pod as Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club, then each went on to become some of the most popular artists of the millennium teen pop boom. However, Christina dared to challenge her sound and stereotype by releasing a strong R&B album in 2002’s Stripped, then the more classic pop/jazz/soul sounding Back to Basics album in 2006. The vocal pipes and range alone make her a legend and her pop stardom and musical prowess can’t be denied. Christina has been tapped to honor some of the best in music at countless tribute performances (James Brown's '07 Grammys still being my favorite) and after her medley of performances at former MTV Award shows, Xtina could have grabbed the award this year or any year before for that matter.
It drives me crazy that still to this day I have to defend Usher’s crown in the music game. I get it — it’s the MTV Vanguard Award. This award highlights star power in POP MUSIC, not so much R&B. But Justin Timberlake won this award and his last three solo albums are arguably solid R&B, so I’m taking no excuses! Usher deserves this kind of award and more. He has the tenure, star power and strong discography on the pop and R&B charts; he continues to drop bangers left and right; Confessions (2004) sold more than 1 million copies in its first week, the first for a male R&B artist; he has songs repeatedly landing at No. 1 on the charts; and he's earned five Grammys. GIVE HIM A VANGUARD!
5. Missy Elliott
I’m still high off the tribute Missy and the other women in hip-hop received at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors last month. Katy Perry reminded us of Missy’s legendary sound and presence at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, and let’s be real, you know you went ape shit when "WTF (Where They From)" dropped this year! I honestly have no desire to proclaim why Missy should receive this award; she should have it already. Drops mic.