The following guest post is from Michael Merritt. Enjoy. The MTV Video Music Awards were given out on Sunday, August 28, and without a doubt, Katy Perry was the night's big name, winning Video of the Year. The results of the program resulted in some grumbling among some "professional" observers – namely the bloggerati and music critics – who saw their hard work making predictions go straight down the tube. I count myself as one who feels the night was stolen from the likes of Adele and Pitbull.
The reason some artists won isn't a secret. Online voting was introduced this year as a deciding factor. I believe its inclusion was the reason for the gap between what the predictors divined and what ultimately went down that night. Essentially, the observers had much different criteria for their predictions than the fans did for their votes, and they failed to account for that difference.
The predictors based their decisions on aesthetics and editorial decisions. I mean things like cinematography, editing, and direction. That's the reason Adele won many of the technical awards like Best Cinematography. Voting wasn't allowed for those awards, so the predictors' views were more in line with that of the judges. Fans, on the other hand, based their votes on any multitude of reasons, though I'd speculate that most votes went to the artists the elector liked. Basically, it was a popularity contest, and whoever could gain the most votes won.
This kind of crowdsourcing, or getting a lot of people to vote at least once for a contestant, started with the People's Choice Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, and the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards. However, I think the decision to let people vote for VMA winners has more recent roots in American Idol. It started the trend, and the other competition shows that sprung up over the last decade imitated the same system. Now it seems that it's come to award shows. I guess it's only a matter of time before we see it used to decide Grammy winners.
In case that doesn't seem to explain why, for example, Katy Perry won Video of the Year over Adele, consider that Perry has simply been in the U.S. longer than Adele. Despite Adele's skyrocketing popularity over the past couple years, Perry still has a larger fan base here, and so there are more people to vote for her in the polls. Give it another year or two and Adele might have a shot at Video of the Year, even with online polling.
So voting was allowed, and many of the people predicting VMA winners just didn't think about that when writing their blog posts (including myself). Our posts were not supposed to be about who we wanted to win, or who best deserved to win. They were supposed to be about who would win, and a little bit of time using the Internet should have reminded us that these kinds of online polls are always subject to crowdsourcing. We ought to consider this in the future, when voting is allowed for awards, and adjust our predictions accordingly.