The MTV Video Music Awards are a strange beast. More than any other awards show, it seems like the goal is to shock, be it through wild red carpet moments, on-screen antics, or head-shaking award wins. To that end, the award for Best New Artist is often a bit of a wild card category, with artists like Rihanna and Taylor Swift losing out to bands that have long been forgotten. There are also plenty of artists whose nominations feel, in hindsight, like the apex point of their careers. What’s become of these formerly rising stars? In honor of the next batch of maybe legends, we decided to take a look around the internet to suss out that info.
Tasmin Archer, “Sleeping Satellite” (1993)
Despite her very ’90s bangs, Tasmin Archer‘s “Sleeping Satellite” was a prime example of the best kind of ’90s music. Between the chill, mystical vibe and the substantial lyrics, this is the kind of pop that made people sit up and listen. She may not have won that year, but Archer was a UK import to be cherished.
Since 1993, Archer has struggled with writer’s block and label disputes, but has released two albums since 1992’s Great Expectations with Bloom in 1996 and On in 2006. However, she started her own label, Quiverdisk, in 2006. She maintains an active Twitter account, thanking fans for their continued support and love of her music. In 2015, Archer sent a YouTube message to ESA astronaut Tim Peake to encourage him on his latest Principia mission that December.
Des’ree, “You Gotta Be” (1995)
Born in Barbados and raised in South London, Des’ree (Desirée Annette Weeks) was everywhere in 1995. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “You Gotta Be,” which made her a natural choice for the VMAs. However, her follow-up song may have been even bigger. “Kissing You” was a part of the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, and Des’ree even appeared in the film to perform the ballad.
Des’ree continued to make music until 2003, including a collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” She also won a Brit Award for Best Female Artist in 1999 and studied at the Camberwell College of Arts from 1999 until 2003. Des’ree has mostly remained out of the public eye since then, but in 2007, she did sue Beyonce over an unauthorized cover of “Kissing You,” which caused Beyonce to remove it from the deluxe edition of B’Day. Following her musical career, Des’ree became interested in naturopathy.
Tracy Bonham, “Mother Mother” (1996)
The ’90s gave us a plethora of alternative folk rock musicians and Tracy Bonham is an oft forgotten great. Overshadowed by artists like Aimee Mann and Fiona Apple, Bonham nevertheless made an impact with her first album The Burdens of Being Upright. While three singles emerged from that album, “Mother Mother” was definitely the breakout hit.
In 2001, Bonham took a break from the studio to tour with The Blue Man Group before recording her third EP, Bee. Bonham would go on to record and co-produce five more albums, the latest of which came out this August. According to her Twitter, Bonham still does shows in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon, and her current city of Woodstock, New York.
Sisqó, “Thong Song” (2000)
Try as you may to forget it, you can probably recall the chorus to “Thong Song” verbatim. Sisqó ushered in the new millennium and everything that entailed musically with the inescapable track, to this day explaining what the hell “dumps like a truck” even means. He was part of the R&B group, Dru Hill, but released three solo albums, the last coming out in 2015.
Sisqó parlayed his musical success into a role in Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Snow Dogs and as a fixture in modern reality TV shows like Celebrity Big Brother 2010, CMT’s Gone Country in 2008, and Celebrity Wife Swap in 2013. In 2016, Sisqó recorded a country song with Marie Osmond called “Give Me a Good Song.” He is presently touring with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Sister Hazel, and the Spin Doctors on a tour called 90sFest.
Nikka Costa, “Like a Feather” (2001)
Nikka Costa‘s career began long before her VMA nomination in 2001, performing professionally as a child as early as 1981. However, her adult career got a kickstart thanks to “Like a Feather” being used in a Tommy Hilfiger campaign ad. Following her album, Everybody Got Their Something, Costa collaborated with artists like Mark Ronson and Eric Clapton. Her songs were also used in film and television, including Blow and Grey’s Anatomy.
While her last studio album was released in 2008, she is currently running a PledgeMusic campaign to record a new album with Strings. According to her Twitter account, she did a number of shows this summer at Largo in LA.
B2K, “Uh Huh” (2002)
While B2K may have been the R&B answer to the boy band craze of the early aughts, Omarion, Raz-B, Lil’ Fizz, and J-Boog did not last long as a group, breaking up in 2004 in a whirlwind of drama. “Uh Huh” came off of their debut album B2K, and they released a follow up, Pandemonium!, in 2002. All four members appeared in and performed music for the dance film, You Got Served, in 2004, but that would be the last time they all collaborated. They all went on to attempt solo careers, but only Omarion managed to find a hint of success.
There were rumors that a B2K reunion was in the works this year thanks to Raz-B’s Instagram, but that was quickly shot down by all of the other members. Apparently, they’re still bitter about Raz-B’s smear campaign following the group’s breakup. Don’t hold your breath for a reunion any time soon.
Jet, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” (2004)
Another case of a one hit wonder, Jet formed in 2001, with Australian band members including brothers Nic Cester and Chris Cester, guitarist Cameron Muncey, and bassist Mark Wilson. Their first studio album, Get Born, was released in 2003, and featured the smash “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?,” which ruled the airways in the midaughts.
While the band would go on to release two more albums, they never found a way to replicate the commercial success of Get Born. While the band was on hiatus in 2011, Chris Cester and Mark Wilson performed together under the name DAMNDOGS. However, in 2012, Jet called it quits for good, with a closing message to their fans:
“After many successful years of writing, recording and touring we wish to announce our discontinuation as a group. From the many pubs, theatres, stadiums and festivals all across the world it was the fans that made our amazing story possible and we wish to thank them all. Thank you, and goodnight.”
Who is the likeliest of this year’s class to fade away in the future? Hopefully none of them, but the above list indicates that that isn’t super likely.