Since its first ceremony on September 14, 1984, the MTV Video Music Awards have been chock full of outrageous, awe-inspiring and unforgettable performances and appearances that have kept audiences buzzing.
As we get ready to create more memories for the VMA scrapbook on Sunday night, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the VMAs – as well as two of the awards’ indisputable MVPs.
Checkout out our list of 10 Memorable Moments…
Madonna….queen of the scene!
Let’s face it, like it or not, without Madge, this article would be a lot shorter! Who would have ever thought the young woman writing around on the stage warbling “Like A Virgin” would still be regarded at pop music royalty to this day? Since I appreciate the fact that many of our Socialite Life readers were too young to see this star-making performance before, here is the Material Girl herself:
Madonna wasn’t content to just rest on her laurels, that’s for sure – she kept audiences enthralled through the years with some of the most talked-about performances and…umm… encounters in VMA history. From her Marie Antoinette-inspired performance of “Vogue” in 1990 to the infamous kiss with Britney Spears (and Christina Aguliera too) in 2003 – but my favorite, all-time Madonna VMA moment was during a post-award interview between Madge and Kurt Loder…oh, and an incredibly inebriated Courtney Love. As Madonna spoke to Kurt, a compact whizzed by her head and up on to the raised interview platform stumbled Courtney. And the rest, my dear friends, is television gold.When Madonna was presented with the (well-deserved) Video Vanguard Award in 1999, she came out after a gaggle of drag queens came out in costumes representing the many, many different phases of her career – from her Like A Virgin-al bride to her Ray of Light look – and quite a few memorable looks in between. Of course, with my affinity for the drag queens, you know I wouldn’t deprive you of a peek!
Michael Jackson – King of Pop, King of the VMAsIf you’re talking about pop icons who have made a memorable impression during the VMAs, you can’t leave the late, great King of Pop out. After collecting many Moonmen for his legendary video for “Thriller” in 1984, MJ turned in scads of memorable musical performance, but the Michael moment that no one will ever forget was when he opened the ceremony by planting a kiss on his then wife, a very uncomfortable Lisa Marie Presley. Enjoy the awkwardness!
Even though Michael racked up many, many awards over his long career, the one that meant the most to him was the Artist of the Millennium Award bestowed to him by Britney Spears at the 2002 VMA ceremony. The problem was, the award didn’t actually exist. Brit Brit was just paying tribute to MJ on his birthday and somehow, Mike thought the cake topper was his award – and gave an Oscar-worthy speech, and lots and lots of ribbing!
Here are ten other VMA moments you may have forgotten!1989: I know it’s probably hard for many of you to remember a time when comedian Andrew Dice Claywas relevant, but for a brief time in the late 80s/early 90s the Diceman was on top of the comedy game. I’m not sure what exactly he was supposed to do as a performer on the VMAs, but he launched into his famous naughty interpretations of nursery rhymes, and it just got worse from there – resulting in a “lifetime ban” from the network. Check out his scandalous performance and his surprising introduction to the following presenter!
1991: Having a memorable opening has been a tradition of the VMAs and the last person anyone expected to see introduce the awards was the (unfairly vilified) Paul Reubens, a/k/a Pee Wee Herman. After his arrest months earlier in an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Pee Wee’s career – his highly successful children’s show and line of merchandise – was seemingly in the toilet. But, surprisingly, when Pee Wee took the stage at the VMAs and asked one simple question – “Heard any good jokes lately?” – which was met by a standing ovation and nothing but love from the audience, Paul Reuben’s career was reborn. Paul went on to guest roles on Murphy Brown and 30 Rock and even brought Pee Wee back with a successful revival of his stage show in LA (and later in New York).
1992: It’s pretty much unheard of for an appearance on the VMAs to lead to a big screen re-creation, but lifelong rule-breaker Howard Stern once again proved the exception to the rule. For whatever reason, Howie thought the world needed a cinematic feature starring his questionable super alter-ego Fartman and gave him an audition of sorts as he presented the award for Best Hard Rock/Metal video during the ceremony, with an amused Luke Perry. Unfortunately, award recipient Lars Ulrich of Metallica, who won for the “Enter Sandman” video, was less than amused. Howard went on to recreate the awkwardness in his film Private Parts- but for the uninitiated, it truly was one of the most cringe inducing moments in the history of the VMAs.
1992: This was also the year of Nirvana – much to the dismay of our hair band friends like Poison (who had fired C.C. Deville after a fight backstage at the ’91 show). After sending a Michael Jackson impersonator to the stage to collect their award for Best Alternative Song for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, they gave a scare to MTV execs by starting to play the controversial “Rape Me” (which they were told prior to the performance not to play) before launching into “Lithium”. At the end of the performance, bassist Krist Novoselic launched his instrument into the air only to have it crash land onto his face on the way down. An impromptu tribute to The Who then ensued as Kurt and drummer/future Foo Fighter Dave Grohl trashed the stage – and Dave took time out from the mayhem to repeatedly yell “Hi Axl!” into the microphone!
1993: Thanks to the infinite wisdom of some (probably fired) MTV exec, the decision was made to pair legendary comedian Milton Berle, who made his career by dressing in drag for a chuckle (and whose claim to fame for the MTV generation was his appearance in Ratt‘s video for “Round and Round”) with drag musician/supermodel (and one of my favorite human beings in the world) RuPaul to present an award. Milton’s a comedian, Ru’s a riot…a match made in heaven, right? Not so much. Apparently the pair didn’t get along too well backstage and by the time they hit the podium, the tension had hit a crescendo. Uncle Miltie grabbed Ru’s chest and Ru wasn’t having it. He cracked, “So you used to wear gowns, but now you’re wearing diapers.” Milton, still ready with a retort (even if it wasn’t that funny) came back with, “Oh, we’re going to ad lib? I’ll check my brain and we’ll start even.” Ouch. Obviously, the publicity didn’t hurt Ru!
1994: And you thought Kayne West was the first artist to bum rush the stage during a fellow artist’s acceptance speech – wrong! While the members of R.E.M. were accepting the award for Best Director for their haunting “Everybody Hurts” video, Nathaniel Hornblower (the alter ego of Beastie Boy MCA, a/k/a Adam Yauch) interrupted the festivities demanding Spike Jonze be recognized with top honors for his work on the Beasties’ classic vid for “Sabotage”. In addition to screaming, “This is an outrage! This is a farce,” he also claimed that he had the original idea for Star Wars.
1996: Hard rock fans everywhere were ecstatic to witness the original members of Van Halen reunite on stage for the first time in over a decade. Sadly, the famous quartet, really thrown back together to promote an upcoming compilation album – which fueled speculation of a full-blown reunion – were involved in verbal fisticuffs before the event was even over. Accusations of Diamond David Lee Roth hogging the spotlight during backstage interviews and deception on the rest of the band’s part on the choice of a permanent lead singer (following the departure of Sammy Hagar) led to the death of the highly anticipated reunion, Fortunately (for me, at least) Dave, Eddie and Alex Van Halen toured once more as Van Halen a few years ago (with Eddie’s son Wolfgang taking over for bassist Michael Anthony) – proving that sometimes, good things do cone to those who wait!
1997: Fiona Apple (remember her?) was given Best New Artist honors (beating Hanson!) and gave what can be best described as a confounding, rambling speech. She quoted Maya Angelou, said that “this world is bulls**t” and encouraged the crowd to “go with yourself” before leaving the stage to a smattering of applause. Probably the best thing that came out of Fiona’s verbal diarrhea was host Chris Rock‘s response, “Let’s hear it for Fiona X!”
1999: When rapper Li’l Kim and R&B diva Mary J. Blige hit the stage to present the Best Hip-Hop Video award, maybe they shouldn’t have acknowledged the artists who paved the way for them so publicly. But then, we would never had the pleasure of seeing Motown legend Diana Rossjiggling Ms. Kim’s partially visible breast (partially obscured by a pastie). The woman who once sang a song called “Reach Out and Touch” probably shouldn’t have taken those lyrics quite so literally…
2000: It’s rage against the set! When Limp Bizkit took to the stage to accept their award for Best Rock Video (for “Break Stuff”), Rage Against The Machine bassist Tim Commerford climbed up the fake palm tree behind the podium and refused to come down, despite the crowd’s “jump” chant and Bizkit’s lead singer Fred Dursttelling Tom to “stage dive”. For his demonstration, Tim spent the night in the pokey, but has a great story for the grand kids! (Yes, the video is in German, but you’re only cheating yourself if you don’t wait for the “money shot”!)
What’s going to be the event from the 2010 ceremony that we’ll be talking about years from now? You’ll have to tune in Sunday night to find out!