The MTV Video Music Awards have delivered some of the most outrageous moments in pop culture history. From scandalous fashion to surprise performances, the VMAs have shocked viewers for more than three decades. In honor of the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards airing on Aug. 30, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of the craziest, most buzz-worthy moments of VMAs past, starting with Kanye West's infamous "Imma let you finish" diss: During the 2009 show, Taylor Swift won the Moonman for best female video for "You Belong With Me." But before she could make her acceptance speech, Kanye jumped on stage, grabbed the microphone and announced, "I'm sorry, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!" The crushed country cutie later told People magazine, "I was standing on stage, and I was really excited because I'd just won the award, and then I was really excited because Kanye West was on stage. And then I wasn't excited any more after that." Keep reading to relive more of the craziest moments in VMA history…
It was the kiss seen 'round the world! While opening the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera paid tribute to superstar Madonna by recreating her iconic 1984 VMAs "Like a Virgin" performance. Madonna herself later joined the ladies on stage and shared a smooch with both pop princesses that people are still talking about!
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To kick off the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley took the stage to publicly declare their love with an incredibly awkward kiss. Before the uncomfortable liplock, Michael told the crowd, "Just think, nobody thought this would last." Unfortunately for the newlyweds, it didn't: The two divorced less than two years later in August 1996.
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Madonna set the bar pretty high for iconic moments when she performed during the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. Singing her song "Like a Virgin," the superstar donned a white wedding gown and writhed around suggestively on the stage. While it might seem tame compared to more recent VMA moments, it certainly raised eyebrows back in the '80s.
That's one way to make headlines! Lil' Kim commanded attention during the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards when she arrived wearing an outrageous purple ensemble. The rapper's sparkly asymmetrical jumpsuit left half of her chest exposed, so she wore a matching purple pasty to cover up. The legendary outfit certainly got the attention of her co-presenter Diana Ross, who grabbed the rapper's exposed breast on stage in another buzzed-about VMA moment.
Courtney Love famously interrupted Kurt Loder's live interview with Madonna during the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, but that was hardly the lowest point of the rocker's night. In addition to throwing makeup at Madonna and falling off a chair while crashing the interview, the Hole singer also had to be dragged off the VMA press stage due to her ridiculous antics.
A live snake! Britney Spears pulled out all the stops while singing "I'm A Slave 4 U" during the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, delivering what would become an iconic performance. The pop star entered the stage in a cage with a tiger and later shimmied and sang while holding an albino python. Wild!
Only Lady Gaga could pull off a dress made of meat! While attending the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Mother Monster donned a frock crafted from 50 pounds of raw animal flesh. The pop star didn't stop there: She also rocked footwear and a hat made of meat during the show.
MTV VMAs fashion is known for being the most outrageous in the world of award shows, and Rose McGowan certainly did her part to set the tone back in 1998. The actress, who attended the show with then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson, rocked a barely-there mesh dress on the red carpet that left nothing to the imagination.
After leaving her girl group Destiny's Child behind, Beyonce made her debut as a solo star during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Descending from the stage upside down, the singer began her performance with "Baby Boy" before transitioning into her massive hit "Crazy in Love," joined on stage by her then-boyfriend, JAY-Z.
The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards took us right back to our high school days with the appearance of original "The Hills" castmates Justin Bobby, Stephanie Pratt, Frankie Delgado, Jason Wahler, Audrina Patridge, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. The crew reunited at the award show to announce that "The Hills" would be back for a reboot in 2019! The reality TV show, dubbed "The Hills: New Beginnings," has since premiered and we can't get enough.
Prince had viewers buzzing when he performed his hit "Gett Off" at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards wearing a lacey yellow bodysuit designed with zero material in the back — leaving his buttocks completely exposed! It was certainly a sight to behold.
Kurt Cobain hit the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet with an unlikely accessory for a rock star — a baby bottle! The Nirvana rocker attended the show with wife Courtney Love and their infant daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. The rare red carpet appearance came just seven months before Kurt's suicide in April 1994.
Fiona Apple took the stage after winning best new artist during the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards and gave viewers a lecture. Instead of talking about her music, Fiona instead delivered one of the strangest speeches in VMAs history, telling the audience, "This world is bulls—."
It was clear that a surprise was in store when Beyonce donned a conservative costume during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Known for her more revealing performance ensembles, the pants, blouse and blazer were a major departure from Queen B's typical VMA fashion. The reason for the modest getup? At the end of her performance of "Love on Top," Beyonce unbuttoned her sparkly purple blazer to reveal a burgeoning baby bump!
During the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, the guys of *NSYNC reunited to honor Justin Timberlake, who received the network's Video Vanguard Award that year. Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick joined JT on stage to perform portions of two of their hits, "Girlfriend" and "Bye Bye Bye." Prior to the 2013 reunion, the boy band hadn't graced the VMAs stage since 2001 when they performed "Pop" with Michael Jackson.
For once, an artist at the VMAs wasn't intentionally trying to show more skin! During the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Nicki Minaj suffered a major wardrobe malfunction while performing her hit "Bang Bang" alongside Ariana Grande and Jessie J. Nicki later explained that she had problems with the zipper that ran down the front of her dress — it just wouldn't close — so she had to hold the garment together with her hands during the performance.
After feuding on Twitter a month before the show, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj publicly made amends during the 2015 MTV VMAs when the pop star joined the rapper on stage during the opening performance of her hit "The Night Is Still Young," which they mashed up with Taylor's "Bad Blood." (The beef started when Nicki complained about not earning a nomination for video of the year because her clip didn't celebrate "women with very slim bodies," which Taylor interpreted as a personal attack.) But with one feud laid to rest, it was on to the next one for Nicki. This time, the object of her wrath was host Miley Cyrus, who earlier in the week called the rapper "not too kind" and "not very polite" when asked for her two cents on the Nicki-Taylor drama. "And now… back to this b—- that had a lot to say about me in the press. Miley, what's good?" asked Nicki after winning a Moonman for her "Anaconda" music video. A stunned Miley hesitated before insisting that her comments had been manipulated, to which Nicki could be seen mouthing back, "Don't play with me, b—-." Yikes!
In 2015, the MTV VMAs happened to coincide with Justin Bieber's Great Apology Tour, during which the trouble-prone pop star attempted to redeem himself for seemingly countless wrongs — from a DUI arrest to assault charges — perpetrated during 2014. So the show that year, during which the Biebs performed his hit "What Do You Mean?" live for the very first time, turned out to be an especially emotional evening for the singer. The audience rewarded Justin's performance, which included aerial acrobatics, with a standing ovation that left him visibly choked up. With his hands on his knees, Justin appeared to fight back sobs before gathering himself and expressing his gratitude to the crowd. Who knew he had it in him?
Kanye West has never been one to hold back during award shows, and the 2015 MTV VMAs were no exception. While accepting the Video Vanguard Award that year, the controversial rapper launched into a bizarre rant that included a dig at Justin Timberlake, questions about MTV's motivations for having Taylor Swift present his award to him and an admission that he'd smoked marijuana before the show started. The whole thing culminated in Yeezy's announcement that he planned to run for president in 2020. He then literally dropped the mic before walking off the stage.
Taking self-promotion to a new level! Posing for photographers before an award show is great exposure, but Macy Gray wanted to ensure people knew about her next project. The singer showed up at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards in this impressively self-serving getup — a hot pink and blue metallic dress complete with an advertisement for her upcoming album release. The dress read "My new album drops Sept. 18, 2001" on the front and "Buy it" on the back.
The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards were all about Rihanna. Not only did she perform four different times during the show, but she also took home the Video Vanguard Award that night. And who better to present her with the iconic prize than her frequent collaborator and oft-rumored love interest Drake? When the rapper introduced RiRi, he revealed a little too much about their relationship, proclaiming, " [Rihanna is] someone I have been in love with since I was 22 years old." He also called her "one of my best friends in the world." Awww!
Everyone loves an unexpected MTV VMAs collaboration, and fans got a big one at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards when Post Malone hit the stage during Aerosmith's show-closing performance of "Dream On" and "Toys in the Attic." Post played guitar on the hits from early in Aerosmith's career after first delivering a low-key rendition of his own hit, "Rockstar" (which had won the song of the year VMA), with rapper 21 Savage.
Fifth Harmony made quite the statement at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. The girl group performed their single "Down & Angel" and shaded their former group member Camila Cabello in the process. When the girls emerged on stage, a fifth member (representing Camila) flew backwards off the stage, leaving only the current four members to perform Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui. Drama!
Talk about awkward! At the 2018 MTV VMAs, Madonna was tasked with giving a speech in honor of the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Unfortunately, honoring the legend didn't seem to be on the Queen of Pop's agenda. Instead, Madonna — who, like Aretha, was raised in Michigan — hijacked the speech and made it all about how Aretha made Madonna's own career possible. Viewers were furious she made the moment about her instead of the iconic singer. Yikes!