Since the 1980s, the MTV Video Music Awards (also known as VMAS) have been the stage of memorable performances by the greatest artists in music, such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Beyoncé and Britney Spears. In the past, these stars have dominated the show, giving us some of the most iconic pop- music moments.
This year, with the event taking place completely outdoor maintaining social distance, the VMAS will have a new setlist of performers which includes Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus, Maluma, Doja Cat and more. We are certain that their exhibitions will live up to fans’ expectations and make the night unforgettable. In the meantime, here are some of the most remarkable performances of the last two decades.
Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke – ‘We Can’t Stop’/ ‘Blurred Lines’ (2013)
After years of struggle to claim her independence, Miley transitioned into a new phase of her life and, consequently, her music changed with it. Perhaps, you may remember this performance not for the singing itself but rather the over the top twerking. Once Robin Thicke hopped on stage, things got a weird turn as Miley started ‘rubbing’ on him. It sure was a shocker performance that night for the audience.
Britney Spears – ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ (2001)
Matching the sexy vibes of ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’, Britney’s jungle-themed performance saw the singer in a tropical attire and belly button. But after coming out of a cage and dancing for over two minutes, she walked around the stage with a giant yellowish python around her neck like an accessory. This performance went down to be one of her best ones.
Britney Spears ‘I’m s Slave 4 U” Official Video
Beyonce – ‘Love On Top’ (2011)
Shining from the centre of the stage in her tux-inspired suit, Beyonce started her performance of ‘Love On Top’ belting out ‘I want you to feel the love growing inside of me,’ an iconic quote that shocked both the Internet and the audience. But if this wasn’t enough to hint to a possible pregnancy, she revealed it herself at the end of the song: after dropping the mic and unbuttoning her jacket, Beyonce winked and rubbed her belly with a big smile.
Taylor Swift – ‘You Belong With Me’ (2009)
Still rocking her country girl style, the young Taylor first took over the uptown subway station singing her hit single ‘You Belong With Me’ through a crowded coach with her famous red dress. She later was joined by a jumping crowd outside the Radio City Music Hall as she continued to sing on top of a car.
Lady Gaga – ‘Paparazzi’ (2009)
Fresh from the release of ‘Paparazzi’, Lady Gaga put on a quite dramatic performance which replaced the video’s fall with a dripping faux blood epilogue. Dressed in all white, Gaga sang, danced, and played the piano. Mother Monster finished the performance after being strung up from the ceiling covered in fake blood. That moment left the audience with a gasp in their mouth.
Chris Brown & Rihanna – ‘Wall To Wall’/ ‘Umbrella’/ ‘Kiss Kiss’ (2007)
Opening the show with a Charlie Chaplin tribute, Chris Brown took over the stage dancing and singing his 2007 hit ‘Wall To Wall’. Switching from stage to stage, he was later joined by Rihanna: rocking a sexy black ensemble, the singer strutted down the stage singing her smash hit ‘Umbrella’. The performance then continued with Chris Brown honoring Michael Jackson with some of his most famous moves like the moonwalk on the notes of his song ‘Kiss Kiss’.
Madonna, Missy Elliott, Britney Spears & Christina Aguilera – Medley (2003)
Channeling the original 1984 performance, the new princesses of pop performed in a medley of ‘Like a Virgin’ by Madonna as they strutted down in wedding dresses from a huge cake. But the show heated up as soon as Madonna herself came out of the cake joining Spears and Aguilera for a rendition of ‘Hollywood’. As if that wasn’t enough, she shared a kiss with both singers that had the audience stunned. Last but not least, Missy Elliott joined them afterward setting the act to become one of the most memorable moments in VMA history.
Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande – Medley (2014)
As the opening act of the 2014 VMAs, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande didn’t fail to impress the audience. Starting off with a bang, Ariana took us to space rocking a silver sparkly spacesuit in the first-ever live performance of ‘Break Free’. After her spaceship took off, Nicki Minaj appeared in a jungle-themed stage and outfit to perform her hit ‘Anaconda’. The booty-shaking performance was then followed by Jessie J who kicked off the beginning of their smash collaboration ‘Bang Bang’. Under thousands of flashing lights, the singer was joined by Ariana and later Nicki who had undergone some quick costume changes. Their performance set a bar for the 2014 VMAs which was hard to overcome.
Visit the MTV site to explore the best moments in VMA history Words by Gennaro Costanzo
Graphics by Georgia Walters