From outrageous outfits and twerktastic performances to infamous stage rushes, let’s take a look at 10 of the most shocking MTV VMA moments of all time…
Britney & Madonna’s snogfest
In a highly sexualised version of passing the torch from one pop matriarch to another, Madonna locked lips with Britney during their 2003 VMA performance.
Steamy and highly symbolic, the moment was immediately followed by the reaction of Britney’s ex Justin Timberlake, who looked just about as shocked as the rest of us. This also cut out most of poor Christina Aguilara’s own smooch with pop queen Madonna, who we almost forgot was there at all.
Britney & her snake
Britney had given another unforgettable performance two years earlier. A then 19-year-old Britney permanently shed her squeaky clean teen image when she writhed around the stage to I’m a Slave for U complete with a team of scantily clad backup dancers, a tiger and of course that giant yellow snake. Few VMA acts have lived up to this iconic, fleshy performance.
Lady GaGa’s meat dress
Lady GaGa is naturally known for her out-there looks, dances and videos, and she certainly did not disappoint when she showed up at the 2010 VMA’s dressed quite literally head to toe in raw meat – beef to be exact.
Named by Time magazine as the top fashion statement of the year, the dress was designed by Franc Fernandez and she explained post award that her dress symbolised the need to fight for your beliefs, and her disapproval of the US military’s don’t-ask-don’t tell policy.
Lil Mama gatecrashes Jaz Z and Alicia Keys performance
Remember Lil Mama’s 2007 hit Lip Gloss? No, we don’t either. But Lil Mama grabbed headlines at the 2009 VMA’s when she felt inspired to rush the stage during Jay Z and Alicia Keys live performance of “Empire State of Mind.”
Bobbing her head harmoniously to the beat, she proudly stood arms folded next to Jay Z, who did his best to ignore her stage invasion. While we never got a conclusive answer as to why Lil Mama did this, it goes down in VMA history as one of its most bizarre moments.
Michael Jackson thought he won “Artist of the Millennium”
Oh MJ. While he is the artist of the millennium in the eyes of many fans, Jackson did not win this award at the 2002 VMAs but was merely being presented with a cake by Britney Spears on his 44th Birthday.
In a tragically embarrassing (yet undoubtedly funny) moment the late King of Pop buoyantly entered the stage and accepted his imaginary award and even had a heartfelt speech written out on a piece of paper. Talk about awkward.
Courtney Love and Madonna clash on live television
It seemed like Courtney Love and Madonna were good friends - and perhaps more besides - in the early 90s but this had evidently changed at the 1995 VMAs’ post-awards red carpet interviews when Madonna was having a pleasant interview with an MTV host only to have a makeup bag tossed at her by Courtney.
Despite Madonna asking the host to not invite her up he went ahead, and before you knew it the two songstresses were having an incredibly strange banter. Madonna while poised, Courtney was clearly inebriated and accused Madonna of being mean to her on a prior occasion. The two divas went back and forth in a seemingly nonsensical conversation that we still truly don’t understand more than 20 years later.
Dianna Ross in awe of Lil Kim’s dress (or lack thereof)
Diana Ross is known for being a pretty classy lady, but even she couldn’t resist copping a feel of Lil Kim’s bare breast. The rapper and former lover of the late Notorious BIG, Lil Kim wore a highly revealing dress to the 1999 VMAs that was scandalous enough to rival even Lady GaGa’s earlier mentioned raw meat dress.
Lil Kim’s purple ensemble exposed one of her cosmetically enhanced breasts, preserving her modesty by nothing more than a shell shaped pasty – a purple one naturally. When Diana jogged onto the stage to co-present an award with Mary J Blige and Lil Kim, Diana hugged the demurely dressed Mary and bounced her hand under Lil Kim’s bosom – who squealed in delight. And the rest is pop culture history.
Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke’s saucy performance
Twerking has been around for years, but it was Miley who bought it to mainstream attention at the 2013 VMAs when she suggestively twerked against the much older Robin Thicke during their live performance of the controversial hit song Blurred Lines.
In a skin-tight, skin-coloured lingerie ensemble, Miley flirtatiously rubbed a giant hand on Robin and herself, and a fully clothed Robin seemed all too happy to go along with it all. A bit shocking and a bit creepy, their duet certainly got tongues wagging, with worldwide headlines reporting their scandalous performance soon after.
Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s magical kiss
He’s back on the list, and this time instead of accepting an imaginary award is here for one of history’s most painfully awkward kisses.
Michael did many, many shocking things in his lifetime, but marrying Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1994, was certainly up there as one of his oddest moments. It was widely speculated that this was some kind of bizarre showmance, and Michael seemed set on proving his critics wrong when he ravenously snogged wife Lisa Marie Presley on stage at the 1994 VMAs. Unfortunately, this was an extremely uncomfortable kiss – perhaps the most awkward of all time.
Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift
By far the most talked about VMA moment in recent times came when pop darling Taylor Swift was accepting the music video of the year award in 2009, only for a boozed-up and sunglasses-wearing (it was at an indoors venue, in the evening) Kanye West stormed the stage, pulled the mike out of Taylor’s hands and declared that Beyoncé in fact “had one of the best videos of all time”.
A mortified Beyoncé is shown in the audience mouthing “Oh my God!” while a traumatised Taylor stood there clinging on to her award totally stunned. This led to an epic feud between Taylor and Kanye, which still seems far from over.