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Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande kick off MTV VMAs

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm •  Published: August 24, 2014
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Miley Cyrus returned Sunday, wearing leather, this time as a nominee for video of the year with "Wrecking Ball." She isn't set to perform, but the outrageous singer, who has kept quiet recently, could surprise with another moment that could own the night and steal the spotlight from the slew of A-list pop divas.

Beyonce, who will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, is the leading nominee, competing for eight awards, including video of the year for "Drunk In Love."

Azalea, like Eminem, has seven nominations. The Australian rapper is nominated twice for both best female and pop video thanks to the success of "Problem" and "Fancy." The latter will compete for video of the year.

Charli XCX, who co-stars on "Fancy," said she first met Azalea on the set of the "Clueless"-inspired music video after they recorded the No. 1 hit separately. The 22-year-old English singer, who was also featured on last year's summer smash "I Love It" with Icona Pop, is nominated for the artist to watch award for her breakthrough solo hit, "Boom Clap."

"I mean it's cool, that's for sure," said Charli XCX, who said she's got four outfits lined up for Sunday. "I'm excited to be there because I haven't done an awards show like on my own, if you know what I mean."

She'll battle girl group Fifth Harmony and rising acts who have topped the charts this year, including boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, rapper Schoolboy Q and pop singer Sam Smith, who will also perform Sunday night.

"My dreams are coming true this weekend. I'm performing at the VMAs," Smith said at the MTV benefit concert also featuring Azalea.

Smith's "Stay With Me" is also up for best male video, pitting him against Eminem, John Legend, Ed Sheeran and Pharrell, whose "Happy" is also nominated for video of the year.

Sia's "Chandelier," which has helped the singer-songwriter achieve a musical breakthrough this year, will battle Pharrell, Azalea, Beyonce and Cyrus for the night's top trophy.

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AP entertainment writers Sandy Cohen and Nicole Evatt in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin