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VMAs 2021: Justin Bieber's return performance, Doja Cat hosts and how to watch the MTV awards

Since launching in 1984, the MTV Video Music Awards have weathered controversies, adapted to trends and endured COVID.

The show has also triggered more than a few viral moments (Kanye stealing Taylor's mic, Miley twerking, Lady Gaga’s meat dress and, of course, that Britney/Madonna/Christina kiss) in its spotty history.

Will this year’s model inspire or irritate? Probably a little of both.

Here are some things to know to prepare for this year’s event.

MTV history: The VMAs through the years

When are the VMAs?

Unlike last year’s mélange of pre-taped productions and outdoor performances scattered around New York City, the 2021 installment returns to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Airing live at 8 p.m. ET Sunday, the show – which will include an audience – is hosted by “Kiss Me More” hitmaker Doja Cat. It’s the first time the ceremony has aired after Labor Day since 2012.

Doja Cat, performing at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, is hosting the 2021 MTV VMAs.

Where can I watch the VMAs?

Along with – obviously – MTV, viewers can tune in to nine other Viacom-owned stations (CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop, TV Land and VH1), as well as The CW Network.

A pre-show featuring Kim Petra, Swedish House Mafia and Polo G will air at 6:30 p.m. ET on MTV. Fans can also follow along on Twitter @MTV starting at 6:15 p.m. ET.

Who are the top VMA nominees?

A high-profile cameo in “Popstar” and his own No. 1 hit “Peaches” launched Justin Bieber to the top of the nominations list with seven, including artist of the year.

Justin Bieber, shown performing in Atlanta in April 2021, is up for a leading seven VMAs this year.

Following closely is Megan Thee Stallion with six nods, also including artist of the year. The majority of the rapper’s nominations are for “WAP,” her saucy pairing with new mom Cardi B.

The varied parade of Billie Eilish, BTS, Doja Cat, Drake, Giveon, Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo scored five nominations each.

Check out the full list of VMA nominations.

Lil Nas X has five nominations for the 2021 MTV VMAs.

Who is performing at the VMAs?

The Foo Fighters, recipients of this year’s Global Icon Award, will rock the VMA stage for the first time since 2007. The band shares the marquee with Camila Cabello, Chlöe, Doja Cat, Kacey Musgraves, Shawn Mendes, Normani, Olivia Rodrigo, Ozuna, Tainy and Twenty One Pilots.

Sending a message: Lil Nas X has one in "Industry Baby" video

Machine Gun Kelly will be joined by Travis Barker for the unveiling of their new single, “Papercuts.”

Some of the special performances planned include Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly teaming for the unveiling of their new single, “Papercuts.” Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow will perform “Industry Baby” live for the first time. The Kid Laroi will make his VMA debut with Justin Bieber on “Stay” (it will be Bieber's first VMA performance since 2015). Ed Sheeran has also joined the lineup for his first VMA gig since 2017. He's expected to play his new single, "Shivers," from Pier 3 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Who is presenting?

Among the artists scheduled to hand out Moon Person trophies are: AJ McLean, Ashanti, Avril Lavigne, Billie Eilish, Billy Porter, Conor McGregor, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Fat Joe, Hailey Bieber, Halle Bailey, Ja Rule, Lance Bass, Megan Fox, Nick Lachey, Rita Ora, Simone Biles and Barker.