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We got your crazy: The wildest VMA moments of all time

Yahoo Music

Let’s be real: When it comes to the MTV Video Music Awards, it’s never about who wins or loses. Everyone has long forgotten that the Cars’ “You Might Think” took top honors at the first VMAs ceremony 34 years ago, but no one will ever forget Madonna’s career-making performance that opened that famous telecast. What are the craziest incidents in VMA history? Review them here and decide for yourself.

Madonna’s Opening Number: A Video Star Is Born (1984)

Older generations vividly recall the exact moment when they first saw Elvis twitch his pelvis on TV or when the Beatles first performed on Ed Sullivan. But for children of the ’80s, one of the most defining televised music moments was when Madonna kicked off the inaugural VMAs. And it wasn’t even planned. “I lost [my shoe] and I thought, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to get that? It’s over there and I’m on TV.’ So I thought, ‘Well, I’ll pretend I meant to do this,’ and I dove onto the floor. And I rolled around and I reached for the shoe, and as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up, and then the underpants were showing. And I didn’t mean to,” Madonna told Jay Leno years later. And thus, VMAs history was made. (Source: Getty Images)

Smells Like Stern Spirit (1992)

Plenty of people have accused Howard Stern of being full of hot air, so it made total sense when the shock jock descended upon the 1992 VMAs audience as his not-so-superhero alter ego, Fartman, in a buttocks-baring, prosthetically enhanced unitard. This hilarious stunt no doubt inspired Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno stunt at the MTV Movie Awards in 2009.

Nirvana Perform at VMAs, Chaos Ensues (1992)

Kurt Cobain never seemed at ease with the whole MTV megafame thing, which was at its peak in 1992, one year after Nevermind came out and changed the music business in ways he probably never imagined or intended. So when Nirvana performed at that year’s VMAs, Kurt was his typical rebellious self — starting their performance with a few politically incorrect bars of their unreleased and unrehearsed tune “Rape Me” (against VMA producers’ wishes) in one of the most chaotic and punk-rock appearances in MTV history. At the performance’s conclusion, bandmate Krist Novoselic hurled his bass guitar in the air and tried to catch it, but it wacked him in the face instead. Krist blogged years later that Queen’s Brian May had nursed him backstage with a glass of champagne, indicating that Krist had adjusted to the swishy MTV lifestyle much more easily than Kurt ever did. (Source: Getty Images)

The Beasties Sabotage R.E.M.’s Speech (1994)

The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” one of the most iconic music videos ever, ridiculously lost out in all categories in 1994. This shutout so angered Beastie Adam Yauch’s lederhosened alter ego, Nathaniel Hornblower, that Nathaniel famously bumrushed the stage during Michael Stipe’s typically P.C. speech, yodeling, “This is an outrage! This is a farce!” (over the injustice that “Sabotage” mastermind Spike Jonze had lost the Best Direction award to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”). Stipe just looked confused. But we think it was the VMA judges who were most confused. Spike really should have won. And Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died in 2012, really deserves a posthumous Video Vanguard Award. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Courtney Love Doesn’t Let Madonna & Kurt Loder Finish (1995)

The most exciting moment of the ’95 VMAs actually took place offstage, once the show was over, when loose-cannon rock widow Courtney Love hijacked VJ Kurt Loder’s perfectly civilized interview with elder stateswoman Madonna. (Courtney got Loder’s attention by tossing her powder compact into the press pit.) A lesser pop star may have been intimidated by Courtney’s crazy antics. But Courtney was no match for Madge, who in a refreshing change of pace came across as classy and totally non-controversial, smiling benignly while Courtney struggled to remain upright and babbled about Michael Stipe and Birkenstocks. This was live television at its finest. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love: Van Halen’s Botched Reunion Attempt (1996)

The reunion between Van Halen and off-on original frontman David Lee Roth on the VMAs stage — their first appearance together in 10 years — was so exciting. For about 47 seconds. Because that’s about how long this particular VH reunion lasted. Eddie Van Halen’s icy body language at the VMAs made it clear that he still loathed Diamond Dave; at times he was standing so far away from Roth, he may as well have been on a different show on another network. And Dave’s constant goofy quips about Eddie’s hip surgery didn’t help matters. Rumor has it they nearly got in a fistfight backstage. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Fiona Is One Sour Apple (1997)

When waify songstress Fiona Apple was only 20 years old, she was presented with a Best New Artist award by none other than Elton John, beating out frontrunners like Hanson, the Wallflowers, and Jamiroquai, the latter of whom won a ton of VMAs for “Virtual Insanity” that year.This was every young artist’s dream. But not for Fiona. Instead she took her time at the podium to denounce the entire awards show. “Everybody out there who is watching this world, this world is bulls***,” she ranted. It seemed ungrateful at the time, but looking back, maybe she had a point. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Diana Ross Gives Lil’ Kim a Hand (1999)

When Motown legend Diana met queen bee Kim (when they presented an award together with Mary J. Blige), a simple handshake just wouldn’t do. Dirty Diana instead took a very hands-on approach, and enthusiastically jiggled Kim’s purple-pastie’d left bosom onstage. Talk about a boob-tube moment! (Source: Yahoo Music)

Rage Against the Machine’s Bassist Rages Against… Something, We’re Just Not Sure What (2000)

Rage Against the Machine were known for their organized protests, but there was nothing organized about the 2000 VMAs, when RATM bass-slinger Tim Commerford (who was calling himself “Tim2K” at the time, in honor of the new millennium) climbed on top of some stage scaffolding during the broadcast and refused to come down. No one was really quite sure what he was protesting, either — although we’re going to guess it was the fact that Limp Bizkit had just won an award. Regardless, it was later revealed that rabble-rousing documentary director Michael Moore had encouraged Tim2K to “follow his heart” and go through with this stunt. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Michael Jackson Wins Non-Existent “Artist of the Millennium” Award (2002)

The King of Pop was once of the king of MTV. So it’s understandable that when Michael appeared on the VMAs — with Britney Spears presenting him with his 44th birthday cake and saying he was the “artist of the millennium” in her eyes — he thought he was getting a well-deserved lifetime achievement. The truly embarrassing part was that he mistook a cheap Styrofoam cake decoration for a trophy, then delivered an emotional acceptance speech that name-checked David Blaine. Oh well. After his death, MTV’s Video Vanguard Award was renamed after Michael. (Source: Yahoo Music)

Eminem Feuds With Moby, Puppet (2002)

Marshall Mathers really needs to pick on people his own size. While Kid Rock at least had the decency to brawl with an equal opponent that year (Tommy Lee), in 2002 Eminem flipped off bookish, bespectacled techno star Moby (whom the rapper ridiculed in “Without Me”), then later called Moby a “little girl” in one of his acceptance speeches and warned, “I will hit a man with glasses.” He also shoved Conan-affiliated canine hand puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, when Triumph attempted to interview Eminem about the Moby incident. Despite being the big VMA winner that year, Shady’s shady behavior elicited rounds of audience boos. Where was Kanye to interrupt Eminem’s nasty speech, when Moby and Triumph needed him most? (Source: Yahoo Music)

Madonna, Britney & Xtina: The Kiss Heard Around the World (2003)

Can you believe this was FOURTEEN years ago? All anyone remembers about the 2003 VMAs is the opening number featuring Madonna and the two logical successors to her pop-starlet throne: Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. We just think it’s sad that people only remember Madge swapping spit with Britney — she kissed Christina too, you know! But somehow it’s that Britney-Madonna smooch that remains ingrained in every VMA viewer’s brain. Missy Elliott also rapped with the trio, by the way, and her video “Work It” won Video of the Year. No one remembers that either. (Source: Getty Images)

Britney’s “Gimme More” Performance: Gimme Less, Please (2007)

Don’t call it a comeback. Because it wasn’t. Yes, the big hype in ’07 was the fact that Britney Spears, a woman who’d made VMA history in the past by performing with Madonna and a live albino snake, would be kicking off that year’s Vegas ceremony with a performance of her supposed comeback single, “Gimme More.” But Britney definitely was not ready for her close-up that year, and disaster ensued. Thankfully, Britney recovered at the following year’s VMAs (when she was the big winner), and last year she gave her first VMAs performance since 2007. However, at the time, it seemed like her career was over. (Source: Getty Images)

Kanye West Doesn’t Let Taylor Swift Finish (2009)

In a cruel move that’s been likened to pig’s blood being dumped on Carrie at the prom and is considered to be the craziest VMAs stunt ever, in 2009 Kanye ruined America’s sweetheart’s big moment when he hopped onstage to protest her winning the Best Female Video award over “Single Ladies,” aka the BEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME. (Capslock is Kanye’s, not Yahoo’s.) It may have been the greatest thing that ever happened to Taylor’s career, which took off as the entire music community sympathetically rallied around her. But it was still rude. Why you gotta be so mean, Kanye? (Source: Getty Images)

Lady Gaga Answers Age-Old Question, “Where’s the Beef?” (2010)

Only show-stealer Lady Gaga could upstage herself at the VMAs. You think it would be honor enough for her to take home the trophy for Video of the Year. But no. Gaga received her trophy wearing a dress literally made of raw meat. The beefy couture, which the good Lady had said is her favorite stage costume of all time, has since been preserved by a taxidermist and put on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Source: Getty Images)

Beyoncé’s Baby Bump Takes Over Twitter (2011)

When Bey revealed her five-month baby bump (concealed under an uncharacteristically modest sequined blazer and tuxedo trousers), it led to mass tweeting at the rate of 8,868 tweets per second, THE most ever recorded for a single event at that time — beating out other Twitter milestones like the deaths of Michael Jackson and Osama bin Laden. We can only imagine what will happen when Blue Ivy is old enough to join Twitter herself! (Source: Getty Images)

Lady Gaga Is Such a Drag (2011)

After a career built on dressing like filet mignon, Kermit the Frog, and a human lampshade, there was only one costume change left for Gaga to try: male drag. The Lady look more like a gentleman when she opened the 2012 dressed as her alter ego, Jo Calderone, whom many speculated was modeled after her swarthy off-on boyfriend, rocker bartender Luc Carl. Gaga/Jo’s rambling monologue, which basically sounded like Luc complaining about his ex-girlfriend’s unrelenting pursuit of fame and wigs, didn’t go over so well with the confused crowd. Maybe that’s why the VMAs totally shut Gaga out the following year? (Source: Getty Images)

Miley Cyrus Can’t Stop (2013)

The big performer at 2013’s VMAs was supposed to be Lady Gaga, who opened the show singing “Applause” in a tiny seashell thong. But then Miley and her famous foam finger hit the stage, and everyone instantly forgot about Gaga. Twerking up a storm in plastic panties, letting that foam finger do the walking, and grinding up on Robin Thicke (a married man 16 years her senior), Miley definitely blurred the lines of good taste. Everyone from concerned parents to the actual inventor of the foam finger complained about this shocking performance, but Miley’s career totally took off after this. The same can’t be said for Robin: Not long after this embarrassing public display, his wife of nine years, Paula Patton, filed for divorce, and Robin’s subsequent breakup album, Paula, was a massive flop. (Source: Getty Images)

Miley Cyrus Is Speechless (2014)

A year after Twerkgate, Miley returned to the VMAs to accept a Video of the Year award for “Wrecking Ball” and tried to class things up, using her time in the spotlight to draw awareness to an important issue: teen homelessness. Miley didn’t even give a speech, instead sitting on the edge of the stage in tears (real tears, not “Wrecking Ball”-video tears) while her date, a young homeless man named Jesse Helt, accepted the award on her behalf. Unfortunately, Miley was still unable to entirely avoid controversy, when it was revealed that Helt had a criminal past; his TV appearance prompted police to send out a warrant for his arrest for probation violation, and he was later sentenced to six months in jail. (Source: Getty Images)

Kanye West for President? (2015)

When delivering an 11-minute acceptance speech for his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award (presented to him by none other than Taylor Swift!),’Ye rambled about everything from “fresh orange juice” to smoking “something” before the show to his shocking plans to run for president in 2020. We bet J.Lo’s 2018 Video Vanguard speech won’t be as bizarre… unless she announces that she’s going to be Kanye’s running mate. (Source: Getty Images)

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