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9 First-Time VMAs Nominees You’ll Want To Stan ASAP

If it wasn’t clear by now, the 2023 VMAs are my Super Bowl. It’s almost time to celebrate the year’s biggest accomplishments in music videos and bear witness to some show-stopping performances. 

On Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EST, the award show will be airing live on MTV and Paramount+ from Newark, New Jersey. Nicki Minaj is hosting for her second year in a row, and the legendary Shakira will accept the prestigious Vanguard award, before performing a medley of her most iconic hits. The festivities have already begun, with the VMA Block Party on Sept. 10, and performances on the Extended Play Stage filmed on Sept. 8. 

This year’s ceremony is sure to make history, with an all-female lineup in the running for Video Of The Year, and a record number of 35 first-time nominees! I love that the VMAs highlight rising talent just as much as the big names — honestly, this is how lots of viewers find their new favorite artists. Definitely keep your eyes on these up-and-comers if you want to claim that OG spot!


Nominated for Best Alternative & Best Art Direction

This supergroup composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker formed organically in 2018, when the trio bonded over frustrations of navigating the indie rock scene, as well as a mutual admiration for each other. Fun fact: Before they perfomed shows together, boygenius was a book club! Post-pandemic, the members focused on solo projects and tours — but boygenius was revived in 2023 with the release of their debut album, the record, and an extended visual for some of its tracks, the film. Since then, they’ve snagged a supporting slot at Coachella and a headlining gig at the Re:SET Concert Series. Singles like “Emily I’m Sorry” and “$20” have captured old and new fans’ hearts, moving many to tears.

Reneé Rapp

Nominated for Best New Artist & Push Performance Of The Year; performing on Extended Play Stage

If you’re a theater kid, her name might ring a bell for you. We first heard her powerhouse vocals during her show-stopping run as Regina George in the Broadway adaptation of Mean Girls. Her solo music, a strong mix of soft ballads and high-energy anthems, has done so much for mental health awareness and LGBTQ+ representation. In August, she released Snow Angel, which broke this year’s record for the biggest female debut album in all genres (as it should)! I can’t even begin to imagine how 2019 Rapp fans are feeling right now, knowing that they can’t really gatekeep her anymore.

ice spice

Nominated for Best New Artist & Push Performance Of The Year; presenter

Ice Spice’s refreshing mix of pop rap and traditional Bronx drill rap is just what we need right now. Last year, Ice Spice released her debut EP, Like…?, which thrust her into the spotlight. Not only did the TikTok-viral hit “In Ha Mood” put this queen on the map — she’s smashed many high-profile collaborations quite early on in 2023. These include “Boy’s A Liar” with PinkPantheress, “Princess Diana” and “Barbie World” with Nicki Minaj, and last but not least, a remix of “Karma” with none other than Taylor Swift.


Nominated for Best New Artist

Perhaps best known for her Ice Spice collaboration, “Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2,” PinkPanthress is redefining the lo-fi hip-hop scene. Influenced by contrasting forces at the same time, like Paramore’s grungy alternative rock and Beyonce’s polished soulfulness, she’s able to tap into everything that her voice and stage presence can do. As she arrives with a nostalgic, yet fresh sound, this British sensation’s unique style appeals to fans of rap, R&B, and bedroom pop all at once.


Nominated for Best K-Pop

I’m highly pleased to present you with your newest K-Pop obsession: Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning. Aespa is the first girl group to come out of industry giant SM Entertainment since Red Velvet’s debut in 2014. Aespa is the next Korean group to make waves in the U.S., following in the footsteps of artists like Blackpink and BTS. This month, they’re set to wrap their first-ever headlining tour, and it’s been a massive triumph for the group. They have three EPs out right now, and each one is packed to the brim with bangers.

lauren spencer smith

Nominated for Push Performance of the Year

A new queen of Sad Girl Hours has entered the chat. Lauren Spencer Smith’s breakthrough single, “Fingers Crossed,” as well as follow-ups like “Best Friend Breakup” and “Narcissist,” detail her experience with heartbreak. She’s also served as the fearless leader of numerous cathartic scream sessions on her Mirror Tour, in support of her debut album released this summer. The fact that fans can see themselves in her lyrics and persona allows her to resonate with them — her secret to success is that she unapologetically holds nothing back.


Nominated for Best New Artist

Thanks to TikTok, Kaliii quickly rose to fame this summer, after countless users on the app discovered the bop that is “Area Codes.” The catchy tune and its lively, subtext-filled music video serves as a pick-me-up for the newly single, as Kaliii reclaims her strength and independence following a breakup. Additionally, her irresistible dance party anthem “KToven” is on the rise, and it pretty much comprised 99% of my summer soundtrack.


Nominated for Push Performance Of The Year

Since Little Mix has been on hiatus for over a year (big sad), a new trio in town is filling the void they left in British pop music. FLO has even worked with many of Little Mix’s collaborators and mentors, such as Stormzy, Kelly Rowland, and MNEK, allowing them to cultivate a similar sound. The group consists of Stella Quaresma, Renée Downer, and Jorja Douglas, three Gen Z women who are continuing to make their mark. Their natural chemistry, ‘00s R&B influences, and impeccable harmonies have captivated worldwide audiences.


Nominated for Best New Artist and Best Hip-Hop

When the popular producer Hitkidd took a chance on fellow Memphis, Tennessee talent — giving the beat for “F.N.F.” to GloRilla rather than Megan Thee Stallion — he made an overnight hit and put a new powerhouse in the spotlight. Her effortless charisma and tell-it-like-it-is approach to rap truly set her apart. In the past year, GloRilla’s star has only continued to rise, and not just because of her Cardi B collaboration. Most recently, in “Lick Or Sum,” she resolves to be a baddie and stay delusional. Why? Because YOLO!

Karly Ramnani is a junior at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, studying music industry, with a strong passion for art and journalism. They discovered this amazing community shortly after starting college, and are super stoked to a national writer for Her Campus this semester. Karly worked with Her Campus in Fall 2022 as well, as the Entertainment & Culture Editorial Intern. Other outlets they've written for include All Country News, The Honey Pop, Medium, Newsbreak, and their own startup music blog Playlists & Polaroids. They currently serve as a campus ambassador for Amazon Prime Student and Tinder. When they're not writing blogposts and music reviews, you can find them composing and performing music, putting their nose in a rom-com book, binge watching "The Summer I Turned Pretty," or crying over Taylor Swift.