Michael Jackson earned his title as King of Pop for his mosaic of entertainment talent and ingenuity—especially when it came to creating iconic music videos. With Thriller, Jackson introduced cinematography into music videos, turning what used to be simple live recordings into fully-fledged short films. The 13-minute video (which I performed in a summer camp talent show as a teenager, and still remember most of the moves) was MTV’s first world premiere.
Jackson’s musical mosaic of R&B, rock, pop, jazz and funk coupled with a repertoire of iconic dance moves made him the benchmark for artistic excellence in the entertainment industry. The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber are just some of today’s most prominent stars entertainers who cite Jackson as inspiration.
The MTV Video Music Awards pay credence to this legacy with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
The award celebrates “forerunners in the music video sphere,” according to Slate.
“MTV is legitimately the definitive arbiter on such matters. And their track record with the Vanguard has reinforced their authority: The first recipients of the award, in 1984, were the Beatles and Richard Lester, for the trailblazing A Hard Day’s Night, and David Bowie, for his groundbreaking films from the late ’60s and ’70s.”
This year, pop star P!NK will receive the honor, joining the pantheon of esteemed winners from previous years. The gutsy songstress established a close relationship with MTV and the VMAs over the course of her 17-year career.
Watch some of P!NK’s greatest VMA moments:
P!NK snagged her first two VMA wins in 2001 for Lady Marmalade, along with Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott and Mya. The powerhouse girl gang performed the ballad onstage that year, gussied up in Moulin Rouge attire.
In her 2008 performance of So What, the renegade smashed mirrors and scaled buildings in the backstage lot of Paramount Studios, while screaming lyrics about her ex, Carey Hart. It was a notoriously badass performance and a cathartic breakup ritual.
P!NK’s career-defining VMA moment was arguably her 2009 trapeze performance of Sober.
“Dangling 60 feet above the Radio City stage, held in place by only a harness,” wrote MTV News, “She killed the song (and almost killed herself), nailed a series of high-risk trapeze tumbles, and, in a moment of silence just before the climactic tumble, had every hair in the building standing at attention.”
In 2012, P!NK told MTV News how she had come full-circle from having VMA “FOMO” to being one of the tentpole event’s main performers.
“I grew up watching MTV, begging my mom to not ground me for watching it,” P!NK told the network. “I think what’s exciting is being able to finally say, ‘See Mom? I did make it.’”
Watch the clip:
As this year’s Video Vanguard winner, she’s got even more MTV clout.
MTV and the VMAs are yet again cultural pioneers with this year’s ceremony. After the MTV TV & Movie awards removed gendered award categories in May, the VMAs continued the progressive trend, turning categories formerly known as Best Female Video and Best Male Video into Artist of the Year. And winners of these gender-neutral categories will receive a revamped version of the trademark trophy: the Moon Person.
“Why should it be a man,” MTV president Chris McCarthy told the New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”
Prepare for launch…the 2017 VMAs will broadcast live from the Sunday, Aug 27 at 8 p.m. Visit the website for more updates.