Today, MTV announced Kanye West as the recipient of the Video Vanguard Award at this year's Video Music Awards. This is well-deserved, but also pretty funny for a number of reasons -- in addition to Kanye's checkered past at the VMAs, he's barely been recognized by the body that bestows the awards. Only two West music videos have taken home statues at the ceremony (for "Jesus Walks" and "Good Life"), but that's nothing compared to the many, many pieces of visual art that were snubbed. Here are the five most noteworthy exclusions from VMAs past.
5. "Through the Wire" One of the best early Kanye videos, "Through the Wire" is good precisely because of how simple it is. It might not have the visual flair of the "Jesus Walks" video (one of Kanye's first expensive pieces of visual bombast), but the "Jesus Walks" visuals point toward where Kanye wanted to go in his career. "Through the Wire," with its corkboard-Polaroid looks at Kanye's post-accident jaw surgery and attendant warm images from his life in Chicago, paints a more accurate picture of where he was.
4. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (with Zach Galifianakis) Somehow, the only one of these videos to not actually feature Kanye is also one of the best (and weirdest). There was a standard "Can't Tell Me Nothing" video, but the version that includes Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham lip-syncing the lyrics and wandering through a field, with lots of surreal imagery, manages to tap into a something bizarre and funny because of how very un-Kanye it is.
3. "Bound 2" Remember when people thought this video was bad? Remember when James Franco and Seth Rogen made a not-great parody that mocked the actual parody (and reclamation) of Americana happening in the original? It's crazy that people ever labored under the delusion that Kanye would make a video and somehow not realize it looked corny and low-budget. That's the whole point.
2. "Runaway" Yes, the epic version of "Runaway," a film unto itself, should count -- it tells the whole story of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and is just beautiful to look at and rich. At the very least, the shortened cut could have been nominated. (Astute Ye observers will note that "Runaway" was nominated for Best Male Video at the 2011 Japan VMAs, but let's not give that ceremony's astuteness the opportunity to let the VMAs proper off the hook.)
1. "Flashing Lights" Did you know that this video, directed by Spike Jonze, wasn't nominated for a VMA? Are you as angry as I am about that? Aren't you excited to rewatch the sparse, abstract, and violent video where a woman beats Kanye to death with a shovel? Do you know what was nominated from Graduation instead? "Homecoming."