Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Who Is That?! A Parent’s Guide to the VMAs

If you were watching the Video Music Awards with me and my teen daughters on Monday night, you would have heard me yelling at the screen, “Who is that?” every 30 seconds or so. (Well that and, “You stole my look, Katy Perry!”)

I didn’t recognize a good number of the performers, presenters and nominees and was hoping that someone like Bono or Prince would appear on stage just so I could say, “I know who that is!” and prove that my musical exposure hadn’t ended back in the days of the 8-track and American Bandstand.

RELATED: Your Handy Guide to Teen Pop Stars

But my girls gave me an education that night, patiently explaining to me who each artist was and speaking slowly so that I could jot the names down on the back of the "Tiger Beat" from 1978 that I was reading. Now I’m sharing that knowledge with you, so that the next time one of their songs comes on the radio you can pretend like you know 5 Seconds of Summer isn’t the name of a spray tan.

1. Jessie J

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

This is one of the artists that opened the show, along with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. Jessie — whose real name is Jessica Cornish — is an English performer who previously gained notoriety for her songwriting skills. She’s written songs for Chris Brown and co-wrote Miley Cyrus’ "Party in the USA," but let’s not hold that against her. The 26-year-old was also a coach on "The Voice UK" for two years.

Hit Songs You’ve Probably Heard: The ubiquitous “Bang Bang” (with Ariana and Nicki), and “Domino” from 2011

2. 5 Seconds of Summer

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

I refer to these four Australian heartthrobs as a bland One Direction, but don’t listen to an old lady who’s still sad about the Monkees breaking up. I know one thing for sure: Teen girls go crazy when they hear Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin sing the lyrics, “You look so perfect standing there / In my American Apparel underwear,” and frankly, who wouldn’t swoon over that?

Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: “She Looks So Perfect”

3. Fifth Harmony

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

This girl group beat out the super popular 5 Seconds of Summer and current "It" singer Sam Smith for the coveted Artist to Watch award at the VMAs on Monday. Like One Direction, Fifth Harmony was formed by V-neck enthusiast Simon Cowell on the "X-Factor" — after not making it as individual contestants, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Hamilton, Dinah Jane Hansen, Camila Cabello, and Lauren Jauregui were put together on the second season of the show, where they eventually finished in third place. Moral of the story: The true path to success lies in getting voted off of the "X-Factor."

Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: “Miss Movin’ On”

4. Charli XCX

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

You’ve been listening to this British artist for awhile and probably didn’t even know it: She’s featured on “Fancy,” the song by Iggy Azalea that seems to be playing on an endless loop everywhere, and also co-wrote and sang in the infectious “I Love It,” by Icona Pop from a couple of years back. Charli — whose real name is Charlotte Aitchison — was nominated for the Artist to Watch award at the VMAs. My apologies for now getting “Fancy” stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: “Boom Clap” (also featured on the “Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack)

5. Childish Gambino

Photograph by Getty Images

Childish Gambino is the stage name of Donald Glover, who was a writer for (and sometimes appeared in) NBC’s “30 Rock” and also played student Troy on the series “Community.” Stay with me: He also had a short-lived role as Lena Dunham’s boyfriend on HBO’s “Girls” and was a voice on the popular “Adventure Time” series. So what was he doing at the VMAs? Because this over-achiever raps, too, and was nominated for Best Hip Hop Video for his song “3005”! Sadly, he lost out to Drake, but doesn’t everybody?

Hit Songs You’ve Probably Heard: “3005” and “Heartbeat”

Share this on Facebook?

More from entertainment