A timeline of the wildest MTV VMA moments of all time

Dusty Baxter-Wright
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

With the coronavirus pandemic meaning the majority of us are confined to our homes and practising social distancing right now, celebrity award shows are obviously not going ahead this year.

We've already waved goodbye to the Met Gala, and are anticipating the cancellation of the 2020 MTV VMAs, which usually happens in August. Which is gutting, not least because the Video Music Awards is typically one of the wildest of the lot.

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We're talking Britney's performance with that snake, Kanye West crashing Taylor Swift's stage and a mic drop from Beyonce in the shape of a baby bump. Here's a timeline of the wildest MTV VMA moments ever, in lieu of this year's ceremony going ahead.

1984 - Madonna dons a wedding dress to sing ‘Like A Virgin’

Early on in her career, the singer descended a 17-foot-tall wedding cake and sang 'Like A Virgin' in a white wedding dress - something which Madonna's former manager Freddy DeMann thought would ruin her career.

"He was white with anger, he was so upset," Madonna told Jay Leno in 2012. "He said, ‘That's it, you've ruined your career’ ... I didn't even know that my butt was showing. I couldn't compute everything that had happened. And since I didn't really have a career yet, I didn't feel that I had lost anything."

1998 - Rose McGowan steals the show in a totally backless dress

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The actress attended the ceremony in 1998 with then boyfriend Marilyn Manson in a sheer, black beaded knee-length gown with a black thong on full display - a look which has gone down as one of the most iconic red carpet dresses of all time.

2001 - Britney Spears performs ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ with a giant snake

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A 19-year-old Britney stole the show in 2001, when she performed with a 25-pound snake draped over her shoulders. And, fun fact: we now know the handler for the python was Doc Antle from Netflix's Tiger King, which is just, wow, really.

2003 - Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera kiss on stage

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Photo credit: Getty Images

What would a VMA round up be without that moment between Madonna, Britney and Christina at the 2003 awards? The trio were singing a mash up of Madonna’s songs ‘Like A Virgin’ and ‘Hollywood’ with Missy Elliott, with Christina and Britney in wedding dresses, harping back to Madonna's 1984 performance.

2008 - T-Pain arrives on an elephant

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What was it about the VMAs and exotic animals? Rapper T-Pain arrived at the ceremony in 2008 on the top of an elephant, surrounding by circus acts on stilts. We're not sure this is ethically OK tbh.

2009 - Lil Mama crashes Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance

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As Jay-Z and Alicia Keys brought their performance of 'Empire State Of Mind' to a close, Lil Mama jumped on stage and tried to crash the performance. Something which she later said ruined her career.

"It hurt," she told Complex in 2015. "It took a lot of mental strength, spiritual strength, and physical strength, not to want to hurt others, not to want to hurt myself. A person could be damn near suicidal."

"A lot of people felt like they didn’t want to take a chance on me with certain things because it might have made Jay Z or Alicia Keys not want to work with them," she said.

2009 - Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech

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There was clearly something in the water in 2009, because Kanye West also crashed the stage when Taylor Swift picked up the award for Best Female Video for 'You Belong With Me'.

During her cute acceptance speech, Kanye West jumped up on the stage and grabbed the mic, interrupting with the now-immortal words: "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!"

This moment went on to ignite their decade long feud, which still isn't over. Blimey.

2010 - Lady Gaga wears a dress made from meat

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Who could forget the time Lady Gaga wore a dress made from raw beef down the red carpet? Los Angeles-based designer/artist Franc Fernandez was behind the dress, who revealed it was "more than 50 pounds of meat" and "fairly heavy."

"Gaga said it smelled good," he continued. "It had a sweet smell. It hadn't been sitting out for more than five hours. And it's not a heavy gross meat."

2011 - Beyonce reveals she’s pregnant with Blue Ivy

Photo credit: Kristian Dowling - Getty Images

Well, technically she announced she was pregnant with her first child with Jay-Z on the red carpet, but Beyonce showed off her bump again during her performance of 'Love on Top.' After perfectly belting out the song, Beyoncé dropped her mic and unbuttoned her jacket to rub her pregnant belly. Iconic.

2013 - Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke give a highly provocative performance

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Miley Cyrus well and truly shook off her Hannah Montana roots when she took to the stage during Robin Thicke's performance of 'Blurred Lines', while also performing her own song 'We Can't Stop'.

She wore a latex bra and pants, twerking against Robin and a foam finger, speaking out at the time to defend hr performance. "I don't pay attention to the negative because I've seen this play out so many times," she told BBC. "Every VMA performance, that's what you're looking for; you're wanting to make history."

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In 2017, though, she said the performance resulted in her feeling overly sexualised. "It became something that was expected of me," she's told Harper's Bazaar magazine. "I didn't want to show up to photo shoots and be the girl who would get my [breasts] out and stick out my tongue.

"In the beginning, it was kind of like saying, '[Screw] you. Girls should be able to have this freedom or whatever.' But it got to a point where I did feel sexualised."

2015 - Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus have a bust up on camera

The singers shared a tense moment on stage during the ceremony which Miley was presenting. After Nicki won the Best Hip-Hop Video, she finished her speech with a dig aimed at Miley: "Back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press; Miley, what’s good?"

Miley, across the stage, came back: "Hey, we’re all in this industry, we all do interviews and we all know how they manipulate sh-t; Nicki, congratu-f--king-lations," she said, before pulling a shady face.

The 'press' Nicki was seemingly referring to was an interview Miley had with The New York Times a few weeks before the 2015 VMAs, where she was asked about Nicki's feud with Taylor Swift. "What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind."

2015 - Justin Bieber cries following his performance

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Justin Bieber made a comeback performance of 'What Do U Mean?' at the 2015 VMAs, following a hiatus, and was overcome with emotion by the end of it.

Speaking to Jimmy Fallon a few days later, the singer explained, "I just wasn't expecting [the fans] to support me in the way that they did. Last time I was at an award show, I was booed. I think I've worked so hard on this album. I've worked so hard at just becoming the man I want to become.

"Stepping into situations, you just can't help but feel judged. I was just feeling judged and wanting to win so badly and just wanting to do what I love so badly that I just put everything on the line."

2016 - Drake declares his love for Rihanna

Drake presented Rihanna with the Vanguard award (equivalent of a life time achievement award) in 2016, and confessed his love for the singer in the process. "She's someone I've been in love with since I was 22 years old," he commented. "She's one of my best friends in the whole world. All my adult life, I've looked up to her even though she's younger than me."

Rihanna later opened up about how the moment embarrassed her, telling Vogue in 2018 that looking back, the whole thing made her uncomfortable.“The VMAs is such a fan-focused awards show, so having that energy around me, and knowing the people who had received the award in the past, made it feel like a big deal," she said. "Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don’t like too many compliments. I don’t like to be put on blast."

2017 - Fifth Harmony throw a fake Camila Cabello off stage

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After Camila Cabello announced she was leaving the band, the remaining Fifth Harmony members continued as a foursome - starting their VMA performance with a blow up doll representing Camila Cabello jumping off the stage. SAVAGE.

So wild.

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