It's always tough to be the new kid on the block, especially in an arena as big as the MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET/tape delay PT). After all, this is the show where pop-culture moments are made — be it a twerk into the headlines or a steamy kiss-off between divas. So how are this year's first-time nominees holding up? USA TODAY caught up with five of them to chat plans for the evening, who they're rooting for and all-time favorite VMAs moments.
Nominated for male video and artist to watch (Stay With Me).
- Of the many artists slated to perform (himself included), "I am most excited to see Beyoncé," Smith says. "She is everything."
- The British singer's favorite VMAs moment to date? "Lady Gaga doing Paparazzi" at the 2009 show, he says. "Loved it."
- Accompanying Smith to his first VMAs will be "my lovely managers," he says.
- Rather than make post-show plans, "I'm going to go where the wind takes me," Smith says. "I like being spontaneous."
- As for who he's rooting for, "I would love to see Charli XCX take home an award," Smith says. "She's a fellow Brit and I'm so proud of what she's achieved."
Nominated for female video and collaboration (Katy Perry's Dark Horse).
- The rapper (real name Jordan Houston) was in Los Angeles when he heard he was nominated, and "I got really excited," he says. "I immediately called up everyone I knew to tell them the good news. It's an incredible feeling."
- So how did he celebrate his nominations? "I prayed."
- Miley Cyrus' tongue-wagging performance with Robin Thicke certainly turned heads, but Juicy J says her memorable appearance last year is his all-time favorite VMAs moment.
- This year, he's most looking forward to seeing Nicki Minaj take the stage. (She'll join Ariana Grande and Jessie J for the first performance of joint single Bang Bang.)
- On Sunday night, "I plan to hit up some VMA after-parties," Houston says. "That's the only way to do it right."
Nominated for artist to watch (Boom Clap), video of the year, female video and pop video (for Iggy Azalea's Fancy, which is also up for art direction).
- Who's tagging along with Charli on the big night? Her managers. "They are all like my dads. I'm going to be rolling with the dad crew," says the goth-pop singer (real name Charlotte Aitchison). "It will be fun, though."
- Of everyone, she's most excited to see Sam Smith perform. "We went to school in the same town and it's cool to see someone who is from where I'm from doing well," she says. "Plus his voice is like heaven."
- So what's she going to rock on the red carpet? "I'm always so last minute, so I have no idea. It will probably be something kind of Jawbreaker-esque," she says, referring to the 1999 comedy starring Rose McGowan and Rebecca Gayheart. "I'm so inspired by all the fashion in that movie right now."
- Naturally, she's rooting for Iggy Azalea to pick up the night's most coveted prize, video of the year. "The Fancy video was so cool to shoot and she totally killed it," Charli says. "The clothes were so next level and she put her everything into that video. She really deserves to win."
- As for her post-show plans, "I don't know yet, but I do not want to remember anything the next day," she says. "I'm ready to go wild."
Nominated for artist to watch (She Looks So Perfect).
- The Aussie pop-rockers have been opening for One Direction on tour this summer and learned of their VMA nomination while on the bus together. "(We) lost our minds," Calum Hood says. "We still can't believe we are even nominated."
- The first time Hood remembers watching the VMAs was in 2002, "when the Foo Fighters played All My Life," he says. His favorite moment to date came in 2009, courtesy of Green Day's electric performance of East Jesus Nowhere.
- Of the nominated artists, the boys would most like to see Usher walk home with best choreography for Good Kisser and Pharrell Williams take video of the year for Happy. They're also looking forward to watching Maroon 5 perform and hope to meet "Usher's mom," Jonetta Patton, Hood says.
- Leading the pack with eight nominations, Beyoncé obviously has legions of fans supporting her, including the 5SOS guys. Their favorite Bey song? "Irreplaceable, by far," Hood says.
- After last year's foam-finger antics, who's most likely to "pull a Miley" during Sunday's show? "5 Seconds of Summer," Hood says.
Nominated for artist to watch (Miss Movin' On).
- The girls were on their way to the airport when they got the news of the nomination, Ally Brooke says. "Normani (Hamilton) was actually asleep, so we had to wake her up and tell her. She was really excited and then she went back to sleep."
- Of the artists they'd most like to meet Sunday, Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande top the list. "Ariana's going to kill it," Brooke says. "She's had such an amazing year and I'm so excited to see her perform live. And Iggy, she's such an incredible artist."
- The group may be back at the airport after the show "because we're also on tour," Brooke says. "But if we can, we're definitely going the after-party route."
- Her favorite VMAs moment happened just last year, when Fifth Harmony attended the show as guests. "Justin Timberlake is one of my favorite artists of all time, and, of course, he had an outstanding (performance)," Brooke says of the 15-minute appearance, which included a 'N Sync reunion. "I was hyperventilating, crying and screaming. ... It was just all so magical."
- Although the X Factor finalists are first-time nominees, they won't be letting nerves get in the way of a good time. "We're just going to enjoy every moment," Brooke says. "There are very few people who get the opportunity, so we'll just soak up everything and hopefully take that Moonman back home."