MTV VMAs: 10 Memorable Moments

The MTV Video Music Awards are known for showcasing some of the biggest and wildest moments in pop culture history – from outrageous twerking to drama-filled feuds.

Here’s a look back at some of the show’s most memorable moments:

1) Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift (2009)

Kanye West and Taylor Swift

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The birth of one of pop music’s biggest beefs all started when Kanye West jumped on stage in the middle of Taylor Swift accepting her award for best female video.

When Swift’s video for You Belong With Me beat Beyonce’s Single Ladies, the rapper headed for the stage and took Taylor’s microphone.

He said: “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and I’ma let you finish… but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”

Kanye was booed by he audience, and when Beyonce herself accepted the award for video of the year later in the ceremony, she invited Swift back onstage to finish her speech.

2. Britney’s Python performance (2001)

Britney SpearsImage copyright: SCOTT GRIES

Although Britney Spears was already a global superstar, this moment cemented her status as a pop culture icon as she performed her hit song I’m a Slave 4 U whilst draped with a seven-foot Burmese python.

Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and several other animal rights groups weren’t too thrilled about this.

Recalling the performance last year, Britney said: “Oh my goodness, why did I do that? That was so dumb,” adding that she would “never” do it again.

3) Lady Gaga’s fashion steak-ment (2009

Lady GagaImage copyright: GETTY IMAGES

Lady Gaga is no stranger to shocking the world with crazy outfits, and this one surely topped the list.

In 2010, the pop star accepted her video of the year award in a dress made from raw beef.

The dress was condemned by several animal rights groups but went on to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

In an interview with American news anchor Anderson Cooper, Gaga explained that her dress was in protest against the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a rule that banned open homosexuality in the armed forces.

4) Beyonce’s baby bump (2011)

Beyonce at the 2011 MTV VMA's

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Beyonce announced her pregnancy with Blue Ivy in the most Beyonce way ever.

After delivering a killer performance of Love On Top, she unbuttoned her blazer, dropped her microphone on the floor (we’re sure the sound engineers were big fans of that) and began rubbing her tummy.

The audience (and her fanbase) went suitably crazy.

5) Madonna’s performance at the first ever VMAs (1984)

Madonna in 1986Image copyright: GETTY IMAGES

Madonna isn’t a stranger to delivering crazy performances – from hanging on a crucifix to rocking up in a ball gown as a French royal, we’ve seen it all.

And whilst her 1984 performance at the VMAs would be considered quite tame by today’s standards, at the time it was pretty groundbreaking.

From her wedding dress costume, to the massive cake she emerged from to her hip thrusting on stage, critics suggested Madonna had set the standard for other artists performing at the VMAs to match.

6) Britney’s grown-up debut (2000)

Britney Spears in her 2000 MTV VMAs performanceImage copyright: GETTY IMAGES

Britney and VMA stunts go hand-in-hand, so it’s perhaps unsurprising she features more on our list than anybody else.

The singer started her 2000 performance in a tuxedo whilst singing I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction). All very formal and elegant.

But then the whole world watched Britney rip off her clothes to reveal a skin-tone, bedazzled body suit as she began to sing Oops… I Did It Again.

Critics cited this moment as a turning point for Britney’s career – between the song and the costume, she did a pretty good job of trying to shed that Mickey Mouse Club image and show the world she was growing up.

7) Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus (2015)


One of the most jaw dropping moments of VMA history was when Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus.

It all started when the rapper criticised MTV for leaving Anaconda out of the video of the year category, implying that she would have been nominated if she was white.

Taylor Swift took this as a jab directed at her and responded on Twitter, after which the two engaged in a war of words. And then Miley weighed in on the topic.

“What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj, is not too kind,” Miley said.

“It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.”

As Nicki accepted her award on stage and handed back to Miley, who was hosting the ceremony, she said: “And now, back to this [girl] that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”

Nicki later explained to The New York Times Magazine: “I saw [Miley] just looking at me, with her face screwed up, and I thought, ‘What the…?'”

“The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls.”

8) Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus’ double act (2013)

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at the MTV VMA's 2013

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And while we’re on the subject of Miley Cyrus…

After finishing her performance of We Can’t Stop in 2013, the singer was joined on stage by Robin Thicke and that’s when things got a little… R-rated.

As Thicke began singing the controversial Blurred Lines, Cyrus began stroking him with a foam finger and doing her own interpretation of “twerking” in her latex beige bikini.

After Twitter melted, the singer defended it and claimed that she wanted to make history (mission accomplished) – but now it seems she regrets it.

9) Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance gets hijacked (2009)

From left to right: Lil Mama, JAY-Z and Alicia KeysImage copyright: GETTY IMAGES

Natia Kirkland – commonly known as Lil Mama – seemed to have got caught up in the moment when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were performing their ode to New York, Empire State of Mind.

As the song came to a close, Kirkland who is also a native New Yorker, jumped on stage and posed next to the two superstars with Jay-Z trying his hardest to ignore her.

10. Madonna and Britney’s kiss (2003)

Britney Spears(L) , Madonna, and Christina Aguilera perform onstage during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards

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In the middle of performing a mash-up of hits in 2003, Madonna surprised the world by kissing Britney Spears onstage.

After cutting to the confused look on Justin Timberlake’s face, Madonna then kissed Christina Aguilera.

At a time where both Spears and Aguilera were still trying to shake off their innocent teen-idol images, the kiss was an unforgettable VMA moment.

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