TAYLOR Swift and SZA were reportedly among the top nominees for the MTV Video Music Awards 2023 (VMA), which recently concluded. However, eyebrows were raised when SZA was notably absent from the “Artist of the Year” category, despite her outstanding album release SOS, which received both critical acclaim and commercial success, making it one of the year’s standout albums.
“Obviously, she had one of the best years, if not the best year, of any artist at this point. I don’t see why she wouldn’t be nominated for ‘Artist of the Year’. It just really didn’t make any sense to me. It’s disrespectful,” SZA’s manager, Terrence “Punch” Henderson, tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview.
Artist of the Year nominees included Beyoncé, Shakira, Nicki Minaj, Karol G, Doja Cat and Taylor Swift, who ultimately won the award.
Henderson told the publication that he contacted MTV about the lack of nominations in the category during a call about a possible performance with SZA at the ceremony, but “they were unable to provide a clear explanation as to why she was not nominated.”
“It was just, ‘Well, she’s nominated for all these other awards.’”
“Why wouldn’t she be nominated for Artist of the Year? Even with the other artists that were nominated for Artist of the Year, some of them were even off-cycle. They didn’t have an album out. I mean, no disrespect to them or anybody else; everybody’s great and all of that, but still, you can’t discredit what SOS has done and is currently doing,” he added, about the musician’s most recent album, which NME awarded five stars and described as a “comeback well worth the wait.”
Despite SZA being nominated for other awards, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best R&B, Henderson found the lack of acknowledgement in the “Artist of the Year” category disheartening.
Frustrated with the situation, he decided to withdraw SZA from the MTV performance, emphasising the need for her to be respected and recognised at the highest level. SZA eventually won the Best R&B Award for her song Shirt but did not attend the ceremony.