With the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards airing tonight (Sunday, Aug. 28), let’s look back at some of the wildest moments and biggest scandals throughout VMA history, thanks to an article in Buzzfeed.
1984 — Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” performance
Madonna performed her hit hit song “Like a Virgin” at the first VMAs ever in Sept.1984. Though MTV was worried about the controversial nature of the song and its title, they agreed to let Madonna perform.
Originally, Madonna had wanted to sing the song to a Bengal tiger, but MTV was not on board with the idea. Instead, Madonna emerged out of a wedding cake for her performance.
As she descended from atop the massive cake, Madonna lost one of her stilettos. To play it off, she kicked off the other stiletto, only to realize she would need them to finish her performance.
As she bent over to retrieve the shoes, she had another wardrobe malfunction — her dress went over her head, exposing her undergarments to the entire world.
To play off the second wardrobe malfunction, Madonna decided to perform “Like a Virgin” in a much more sexually suggestive way than MTV had anticipated.
The performance was so provocative and unexpected that Madonna’s manager told her that her career was “probably over.”
… But as we all know, “Like a Virgin” was a huge hit, landing the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 just three months later.
1989 — Andrew Dice Clay’s X-rated stand-up set
Stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay is the only person in history to be banned from the VMAs after a raunchy x-rated stand-up act that served as an opener for a performance by Cher.
During a tiny three-minute set, Clay managed to drop “two X-rated curse words” alongside “his signature naughty nursery rhymes.”
Because of his raunchy set, Clay was banned “not only from attending future shows but also from appearing on MTV altogether.”
His performance made network officials nervous to include stand-up comedy at the VMAs. Stand-up comedy didn’t return to the VMAs again until Dane Cook’s set in 2005.
1991 — Prince’s “Gett Off” performance
Prince performed his song “Gett Off” at the 1991 VMAs, by taking sexy to the next level, as per usual, when he exposed what appeared to be his bare butt cheeks.
Though many believed it was actually Prince’s derrière and were outraged, it was revealed that the suit with the ass-cheek cutouts was his stylist’s idea. The stylist “had sewn in (incredibly lifelike) flesh-colored panels to give the illusion of nudity.”
What a bummer.
1992 — Howard Stern debuts Fartman
In 1992, Howard Stern decided that Fartman was going to make his television debut at the VMAs.
Fartman was a superhero character created by National Lampoon magazine in 1979, but Stern had been featuring his version of the character on his radio show since the 1980s.
In an effort to launch a new film franchise, Stern decided to take his version of the character to the stage. Before Stern presented the award for Best Heavy Metal Video, he descended to the stage via wires hanging from the ceiling while wearing the butt-baring Fartman costume.
The stunt ended up being a huge flop, and audiences were less than impressed. The film franchise starring Fartman that Stern was trying to launch was quickly scrapped afterward, though Stern still included a reenactment of the VMA scene in his memoir-based film Private Parts.
1993 —Snoop Dog attends VMAs while wanted by police
Snoop Dog, then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, was wanted by the police for his involvement in the shooting death of Philip Woldemariam, when he attended the 1993 VMAs.
Just weeks prior to the drop of his debut album, Snoop Dog was slated to present an award for the Best R&B Video at the ceremony.
Snoop’s attorney had arranged for him to turn himself into the authorities with the two other suspects, but Snoop decided to attend the VMAs instead.
Snoop did turn himself into police after the VMAs. When the case went to trial in 1995, Snoop Dog claimed self-defense and was found not guilty of the crime.
2001 — Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U” performance
At the 2001 VMAs, Britney Spears performed “I’m a Slave 4 U” while she carried a 7-foot-long python across her shoulders. Spears said she was terrified of the serpent, but the performance went down in history as one of the most iconic VMA performances ever.
MTV producers had to get a permit for the python because they had been banned by the New York Department of Health.
As her performance included not only the snake but also a tiger, PETA condemned it because the animals were exposed to loud music and pyrotechnics.
2002 — Michael Jackson accepts nonexistent award
Michael Jackson’s 44th birthday happened to be on the same day as the 2002 VMAs on Aug. 29.
To celebrate his birthday, MTV producers had decided to have Britney Spears present Jackson with a birthday cake.
When she did so, Britney called Jackson, “the artist of the millennium.”
Jackson mistakenly thought he was being presented with an “Artist of the Millennium Award.”
When he stepped up to the podium, Jackson preceded “to deliver an incredibly awkward speech for the nonexistent honor.”
In his speech, Jackson thanked God and magician David Blaine.
“When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana, if someone told me I’d be getting the Artist of the Millennium Award, I’d never have believed it,” Jackson said in his acceptance speech.
2002 — Eminem gets roasted
At the 2002 VMAs, Eminem confronted Moby for a comment he had made during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine backstage at the 2002 Grammys.
Moby told Rolling Stone that Eminem was “very clever, but he’s also a misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, and an antisemite.”
Obviously unhappy with Moby’s comments, Eminem decided to confront Moby during the VMAs.
Eminem called Moby a “little girl” while shoving his middle finger in his face. Eminem also confronted Moby offstage and called him a “p*ssy.”
Later on, the drama escalated when the puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog started roasting Eminem. In turn, Eminem pushed the puppet aside while heading to the stage.
“I will hit a man with glasses,” Eminem said while looking at Moby who was 100 percent wearing glasses that night.
At a press conference after the VMAs, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog took one final jab at Eminem.
“Everyone, please. Let’s all try to be easy on Eminem,” the puppet said. “At the end of the day, he’s just another white guy trying to make an honest living … stealing Black people’s music.”
Moby ended up getting beat up by a bunch of angry Eminem fans some months later.
2003 — Madonna and Britney’s kiss
One of the most memorable VMA moments ever occurred in 2003, when Madonna and Britney Spears shared a kiss onstage.
Technically, Madonna kissed both Spears and Christina Aguilera, when both performed with her onstage; however, the Britney and Madonna kiss was the only one that aired on Live TV because cameras decided to pan to Spears’ recent ex Justin Timberlake to see his reaction to the now famous moment, instead of airing the kiss between Madonna and Christina.
Even years after the kiss occurred, Madonna said she would love to reenact the steamy moment. In June 2022 at Spears’ wedding, Madonna got her wish, though it was just a mere peck between the pop stars.
2009 — Kanye storms the stage
I’m sure no one has forgotten when Kanye West stormed the stage during the 2009 VMAs after Taylor Swift had won the award for Best Video by a Female Artist, beginning an almost decade-long feud.
Both Swift and Beyoncé were nominated for the Best Video by a Female Artist. Beyoncé had also been nominated for Best Video of the Year for “Single Ladies,” but many thought she would be winning the former award.
When it was announced that Swift had won, Kanye jumped onstage, with a bottle of Hennessy in tow, and grabbed the mic.
“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” Kanye said. “One of the best videos of all time!”
Cameras panned to Beyoncé in the crowd mouthing, “Oh Kanye” before producers began playing a prerecorded segment while they ushered Swift and West offstage.
Beyoncé was later awarded Best Video of the Year. Once onstage, Beyoncé invited Swift onstage so she could “have her moment.”
After the VMAs, West apologized to Swift on his blog.
2013 — T-Swift takes jabs at Harry Styles
Taylor Swift and Harry Styles broke up in January 2013, but it appeared Swift was still upset over it months later at the 2013 VMAs.
When Styles and his bandmates were onstage presenting the award for Best Pop Video, the cameras panned to Swift who can be seen whispering to Selena Gomez, “Shut the f*ck up,” while Styles spoke.
When Swift accepted the award for Best Female Video later during the ceremony for her song “I Knew You Were Trouble,” she took another dig a Styles, saying, “I also want to thank the person who inspired this song because he knows exactly who he is, because now I’ve got one of these.”
2013 — Miley gyrates on a foam finger
While performing a medley of her song “We Can’t Stop” with Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines,” Miley Cyrus attempted to distance herself from her Disney past by putting on a raunchy performance.
Wearing a nude bikini, Cyrus twerked and gyrated on a foam finger, which many found “too raunchy for Live TV.”
Even Thicke was upset with Cyrus’s overtly sexual dancing, saying she had “hijacked the performance.”
Cyrus remains proud of her performance which she said changed the trajectory of her career.
2015 — “Miley, what’s good?”
“Miley, what’s good?” Nicki Minaj uttered to Miley Cyrus during the 2015 VMAs.
Why, you ask?
Two years prior, Cyrus had “come under fire for her twerking at the VMAs,” but then rebounded in 2014 to win Video of the Year.
Minaj had not been included in nominations for Video of the Year for her massive hit “Anaconda.” The video, though, was still chosen as the winner of the Best Hip-Hop Video.
Cyrus had spoken with the New York Times, saying Minaj was “not too kind” when she became upset about her lack of a nomination for the Best Video of the Year award, and “for calling out the show for nominating mostly white women for the honor.”
So when Minaj accepted her award for Best Hip-Hop Video, she uttered those infamous words, that clearly threw Cyrus off her game as the host of the 2015 VMAs.
2015 — Miley Cyrus exposes her boob
During the 2015 VMAs, Miley Cyrus “hid behind a curtain for a backstage segment.”
While speaking, her grip loosened on the curtain, which exposed her bare breast for the world to see.
The VMAs executive producer said they had planned and added extra precautions in the event that Cyrus might “act like Miley.”
“We have [planned] a lot of wide camera shots and a lot of audience reactions,” he said. “And we have a delay, so we’re prepared for her.”