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Updated by Kendra Brea Cooper on Oct 16, 2014
Headline for Backup Dancers and Beautiful Guitars: 10 Pop/Rock Nominees at the 2014 MTV EMAs
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Backup Dancers and Beautiful Guitars: 10 Pop/Rock Nominees at the 2014 MTV EMAs

The nominees for best Pop and best Rock at the MTV EMAs are well known for their quirks, presence, and music (of course). They are moving through our gaze, dropping tired images for new ones, shedding old notes for new ones, and showing up on the top of the charts.

1

Katy Perry-Pop

Katy Perry-Pop

Katy Perry has a firm grasp on her image. In her sticky way of picking up trends and moulding them into her stage presence, she is the one of the first to reflect what is about to be incorporated into popular culture (whether it should be, or not). Like others in her world, there is a furious consumption of symbols from other cultures in the search for meaning and novelty.

2

Miley Cyrus-Pop

Miley Cyrus-Pop

Like Perry, Miley Cyrus is no stranger to using symbols from other cultures to give herself stage cred, which has been fairly problematic in the past. She shed her former image like she was changing outfits backstage, but has her past to thank for the contrast that elevates her fame. The Disney image was bland enough to make any turn seem like rebellion.

3

Ariana Grande-Pop

Ariana Grande-Pop

People are still trying to figure out Ariana Grande. She's new-ish on the scene and still has some time to carve herself out. Right now, she has a 50s/60s aesthetic, and a passionate love for animals made obvious by her social media posts. Her challenge will be shaking off that one-sided sweet image when it's time to do so.

4

One Direction-Pop

One Direction-Pop

The entire pop world revolves around these boys, because right now they are the sun. They've reached that point in stardom where their own image exists in the creative culture the fans have made for them in photos, experiences, stories, and artwork.

5

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer

What is it about instruments that give a band, that otherwise would be in the boy band category, some edge? It could be the sense of control over the music and the concentration it takes to put on a good show. 5 Seconds of Summer seem like the boys you went to see at your high school battle of the bands, and that's the quality Blink 182 had, which only means success for 5SOS.

6

The Black Keys-Rock

The Black Keys-Rock

The Black Keys are walking on the fence between exclusivity in the indie world, and the crowds of the pop culture world. There is a constant search for "cool" that exists in our culture, so it was only a matter of time before a mass of people would look over the fence to catch of glimpse of this band.

7

Arctic Monkeys-Rock

Arctic Monkeys-Rock

The Arctic Monkeys have dipped into multiple sounds from rock to funk, and right now they're titled alongside major music influences such as Lorde and Beyonce. There will always be a set of fans who resist their favourite band moving into the mainstream, because their own image depends on every move the group makes. With bands like the Arctic Monkeys and the Black Keys, these crossovers will surely have a rowdy mixture of reaction.

8

Imagine Dragons-Rock

Imagine Dragons-Rock

Imagine Dragons have a unique way of being able to (sorry, Aerosmith) sing for the moment. Songs like Radioactive and Amsterdam sound like the end of a long day, when the only thing left having any friction are the thoughts in your head. Songs like these work in film, television, live shows, and life moments.

9

Coldplay-Rock

Coldplay-Rock

Coldplay is a comfort zone. It's the music that has been there for so long it has attached to our memories like smell and touch. We return to it to feel something again (whatever that is).

10

Linkin Park-Rock

Linkin Park-Rock

Linkin Park broke free of that late 90s/ early 2000s rap with rock era that held bands like Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. They've somehow been able to break the membrane of that particular image and move with changing tastes.