The divas of pop and R&B look set to steal the show at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs)on Sunday, with Beyonce leading all nominations for her testament to female empowerment “Lemonade,” and excitement building over performances by Rihanna and Britney Spears.

But don’t count out Kanye West, the rapper with a talent for the unpredictable, who is a contender for the coveted video of the year award and who will be seated in the front row just a short leap from the VMA stage.

VMA organizers won’t say whether Beyonce, West, or sultry eight-time nominated British singer Adele will sing during Sunday’s live show from New York’s Madison Square Garden.

That’s because the annual VMAs thrive on surprises and controversy.

“The culture around the show is that every artist has the latitude to express themselves in whichever way they want to, and we sort of light that candle and hold on for dear life,” said VMA executive producer Garrett English.

“There is a volatility to it, a massive creative expectation and a lot of one-upmanship that happens, and from that a lot of spontaneity happens and we are good with that,” he added.

Beyonce dominates the VMA nominations, with a career-best 11 nods for videos from her visual album “Lemonade” and its bold songs about betrayal, revenge and race.

The R&B singer’s politically-charged “Formation” will compete for video of the year prize with Adele’s 2015 comeback single “Hello,” Canadian rapper Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and West’s sleeping nude celebrity look-alikes in “Famous.”

The winners are voted on by fans.

Confirmed performers include Nicki Minaj, who will join Ariana Grande for Grande’s new song, “Side to Side,” Nick Jonas who will sing “Bacon” with Ty Dolla $ign, and the Chainsmokers with Halsey on their summer hit “Closer.”

Spears, 34, will return to the VMA stage for the first time since her humiliating 2007 showing with “Gimme More” when her personal and professional life was falling apart.

This time, with a newly-released album already a hit, Spears is one of the most-talked about celebrities ahead of Sunday’s show.

Rihanna will open the show and is expected to perform a career retrospective marking her lifetime achievement award in the form of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard prize.

One of pop music’s biggest names isn’t expected to attend. Taylor Swift, who has dominated music award shows for the past decade, didn’t get a single VMA nomination this time.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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