The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) are one of the most prestigious and popular music awards shows in the world, honoring the best in music videos and live performances.
This year, the VMAs 2023 introduced a new category, Best Afrobeats, to recognize the growing influence and popularity of the African music genre that blends elements of hip hop, dancehall, R&B, and more.
The nominees for the Best Afrobeats category were:
– Burna Boy – “It’s Plenty”
– Davido and Musa Keys – “Unavailable”
– Ayra Starr – “Rush”
– Libianca – “People”
– Wizkid and Ayrra Starr – “2 Sugar”
– Fireboy DML and Asake – “Bandana”
– Rema and Selena Gomez – “Calm Down”
The winner of the first-ever Best Afrobeats award was Rema and Selena Gomez for their hit song “Calm Down”, which was also nominated for Song of the Year and Best Collaboration.
The song is a remix of Rema’s original track from his debut album Rave & Roses, which was released in March 2022. The remix features American pop star Selena Gomez, who added her vocals and co-wrote some of the lyrics with Rema.
How “Calm Down” Became a Global Smash
Rema is a Nigerian singer, rapper, and songwriter who rose to fame in 2019 with his breakout single “Dumebi”, which became a viral sensation across Africa and beyond.
He has since released several hit songs and EPs, earning him accolades such as the Next Rated award at the 2019 Headies, the Soundcity MVP for Best New Artist in 2020, and the BET Award for Best International Act in 2021.
Selena Gomez is an American singer, actress, and producer who started her career as a child star on Disney Channel.
She has since become one of the most successful pop artists of her generation, with over 200 million records sold worldwide.
Gomez has also starred in several movies and TV shows, such as Wizards of Waverly Place, Spring Breakers, The Dead Don’t Die, and Only Murders in the Building.
The collaboration between Rema and Selena Gomez was initiated by Rema himself, who reached out to Gomez via Instagram DM in July 2022.
He expressed his admiration for her music and asked if she would be interested in working with him on a remix of his song “Calm Down”. Gomez replied positively and agreed to hop on the track.
The two artists recorded their parts separately, but communicated frequently via phone and video calls to exchange ideas and feedback.
They also developed a friendship and mutual respect for each other’s talents and cultures.
The remix of “Calm Down” was released on August 25, 2022, and it immediately became a global hit.
The song topped the charts in several countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and the US. It also broke several records, such as:
– The first song by an African artist to join Spotify’s Billions Club, which honors songs that have amassed over a billion streams on the platform.
– The first song to lead the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart for a record-setting 52 weeks.
– The most-streamed song by a female artist in 2022.
– The most-viewed music video by an African artist on YouTube, with over 1.5 billion views.
How Rema and Selena Gomez Celebrated Their Win at the VMAs
Rema and Selena Gomez attended the VMAs together at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on September 12, 2023.
They walked the red carpet hand in hand, wearing matching outfits designed by Nigerian fashion label Orange Culture.
They also performed “Calm Down” live on stage for the first time ever, delivering an electrifying performance that featured dancers dressed in traditional African attire.
When they received their award for Best Afrobeats from presenter Rihanna, they hugged each other and thanked their fans, their teams, their families, and God.
Rema also gave a shout-out to the pioneers and legends of Afrobeats music who inspired him, such as Fela Kuti , 2Baba , Don Jazzy , D’banj , D’Prince , Runtown , Timaya , Wizkid , Burna Boy , Davido , and more.
He also acknowledged the new generation of Afrobeats artists who are taking the genre to new heights.
Selena Gomez expressed her gratitude to Rema for inviting her to be part of the song and the movement.
She said she learned a lot from him and his culture, and she hoped to visit Nigeria someday. She also said she loved him and wanted to take care of him.
The two artists ended their speech by saying “Afrobeats to the world!” and raising their trophies in the air.
What’s Next for Rema and Selena Gomez
Rema and Selena Gomez have both announced that they are working on new music projects that will be released soon.
He is preparing to drop a deluxe version of his album Rave & Roses, which will feature six additional tracks, including collaborations with Chris Brown and 6LACK.
Selena Gomez is working on her fifth studio album, which will be her first Spanish-language album.
She has already released two singles from the album, “De Una Vez” and “Baila Conmigo”, which have received positive reviews from critics and fans.
The two artists have also hinted that they might collaborate again in the future, as they have developed a strong bond and chemistry.
They have also expressed their support for each other’s careers and personal lives, as they have faced some challenges and controversies in the past.
Rema and Selena Gomez are undoubtedly two of the most influential and successful artists of their generation.
Their collaboration on “Calm Down” has proven that music has no boundaries or limits.
They have also shown that Afrobeats is not just a genre, but a culture and a movement that celebrates diversity, creativity, and unity.
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