The Top 10 Most Shocking Moments of the MTV Video Music Awards

By Javy Rodriguez,

The MTV Video Music Awards have always been the prime stage for music’s most shocking and exciting moments. This year’s show will go down at the Staples Center in Los Angeles September 6, and the full list of nominees can be found here. Until then, we’re counting down the top ten most jaw-dropping moments that could have only happened on MTV’s stage.

10. Lady Gaga bleeds on stage, 2009

In 2009, Lady Gaga was quickly becoming infamous for her over-the-top fashion choices and theatrical music videos. For her VMAs debut, she performed her hit “Paparazzi.” Shocking the crowd that night, as her singing got more manic, she started to bleed on stage. For the finale, Gaga hung by one hand with a dead expression on her face. With this bloody showing, Gaga wasted no time taking her spot in the MTV history books.

9. Britney Spears strips on stage, 2000

From the beginning of her career, Britney Spears had always been sexy, but she coated that sexiness with a virginal girl-next-door charm. Starting off her performance with her cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” Spears came down a staircase wearing a black tuxedo. Before getting into “Oops...I Did It Again,” she ripped off the tux, revealing a skin-tight, nude-colored outfit. It might have been the first true indication that Spears was now a woman who wasn’t so innocent after all.

8. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog flirts with Jennifer Lopez, 2001

Throughout the 2001 MTV VMAs, no one was safe from Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Conan O’Brien’s puppet canine sidekick who was making the rounds in the audience and letting them have it. The funniest encounter has to be when he snuck up on Jennifer Lopez, who he asked if he could sniff her butt. When she pushed him away, he said, “She doesn't understand, for a dog it's like climbing Mount Everest.”

7. Howard Stern as Fartman, 1992

It wasn’t a bird, it wasn’t a plane…it was Howard Stern? For the 1992 VMAs, the shock jock descended down to the stage as Fartman. We still can’t decide which was more lethal: his case of gas or his superhero regalia that didn’t leave much of his backside to the imagination. Co-presenter and Beverly Hills, 90210 heartthrob Luke Perry got in on the fun by touching Stern’s derriere.

6. Courtney Love vs. Madonna, 1995

At the pre-show for the 1995 MTV VMAs, Kurt Loder’s interview with Madonna was going smoothly. That was until Madonna was almost hit with a powder compact thrown by Courtney Love, who wanted to come up to the interview pit. While the “Material Girl” was hesitant at first
(“Should we let her come up? No, don’t, please”), she rolled with the punches and engaged in an awkward conversation with Love that included topics such as ambulance drivers and Birkenstocks. Although we aren’t sure if Love was sober or not, we do know this made for great television.

5. Diana Ross jiggles Lil’ Kim’s breast, 1999

Rapper Lil’ Kim had already caused a stir when she showed up to the 1999 VMAs missing half of her top, covering the nipple of her exposed breast with a pasty. Later, when she presented an award with Mary J. Blige and Diana Ross, Ross jiggled Kim’s breast upon greeting her. Lil’ Kim’s ensemble and the moment it led to is what VMA fashion is all about. To see the moment again, look to the 1:27 mark.

4. Michael Jackson Kisses Lisa Marie Presley, 1994

We already couldn’t believe that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley. Opening the 1994 show, Jackson decided to hush the haters by grabbing Presley and kissing her. But judging by her reaction, it seemed forced and awkward. “Just think,” said Jackson about their marriage, “Nobody thought this would last.” While it didn’t, the moment has definitely lasted in pop culture’s history books.

3. Britney Spears, “Gimme More,” 2007

The year was 2007, and we saw Britney Spears go through a list of lows such as shaving her head and losing custody of her two boys. Her performance at that year’s VMAs was supposed to be her big comeback. Even though we saw her partying with Diddy in Las Vegas all weekend, we believed her redemption would come. While her slinky club banger “Gimme More” was hot, Britney seemed burnt out as she lethargically walked and stumbled on stage in messy hair extensions and an unflattering two-piece ensemble. But the disappointing showing would set the stage for Britney’s true comeback appearance at the next year’s ceremony, accepting numerous awards while glowing.

2. Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift, 2009

It was supposed to be a glorious moment for Taylor Swift, who had won her first MTV Moonman for Best Female Video. Suddenly, Kanye West crashed the stage, cut off Swift by snatching her microphone, and objected in support of fellow nominee, Beyonce. “Yo Taylor. I’m really happy for you,” said the rapper. “I’ma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” It would’ve been best if someone didn’t let you finish, Kanye.

1. Madonna and Britney Spears Kiss, 2003

In the pantheon of shocking VMA moments, it’s simply “the kiss.” For the opener to 2003’s show, alleged rivals Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera joined forces to honor Madonna with an updated rendition of her “Like a Virgin” performance nearly 20 years prior. What had started as an already exciting affair, with the two singers cooing and writhing on the floor in wedding dresses, got even better when Madonna joined in on the action. Dressed as a groom, the Queen of Pop exchanged seductive stares with her successors. Then, she leaned in to kiss Britney. It was clear who stole the show when we got treated to a shot of Britney’s recent ex Justin Timberlake looking none too pleased over Madonna and Christina’s kiss. Britney had always been vocal about Madonna’s influence on her, making the lip lock the ultimate passing of the torch – VMA style.



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