With Lady Gaga set to open the MTV Video Music Awards, the audience braced themselves for a dose of patented Gaga shock treatment. For half a decade plus now, Gaga has served as the reliable producer of those jaw-dropping moments that dominate water cooler talk the next day.
And this year looked to be a return to form. Gaga, looking for a bit of a comeback after some time out of the spotlight, needed to hit the stage hard. Counting on her chatter-generating skills, MTV booked her Ladyship into the lead-off slot. On the red carpet before the show, Gaga was asked how she planned to stun the crowd. The expectations were high.
But after coming out standing in a milk carton, a few retrospective wig changes, smearing some paint on her face, the big moment? A quick spin to flash the singer's teeny tiny thong.
Just when people began to relax after Gaga's not-so-weird performance, the real sucker punch of the night came: when the girl who was still a practically a Disney princess while Gaga was rocking a meat dress - Miley Cyrus hit the stage.
Cyrus stepped up and assumed the throne for the strangest, most provocative performer at this year's VMAs, fitting nicely into the crown for Queen of Obscene, funny hair horns and all.
The singer emerged in a furry gray leotard with the face of a seemingly-intoxicated teddy bear to perform her single "We Can't Stop." Following the theme of her music video, she was backed up by a gaggle of dancers with the giant teddy bear backpacks, folks in teddy bear suits, and the World's Tallest Burlesque Dancer, Amazon Ashley, who stands at 6'7''.
Living up to her reputation for shamelessly working it, she didn't disappoint as she playfully bounced, popped and thrust through the song that had viewers in a trance.
Once Robin Thicke came out to perform what is probably the song of summer '13, "Blurred Lines," Cyrus shed the fun fur to reveal a very Gaga-esque nude vinyl bikini, not much unlike the latex getup Gaga wore at the 2011 Grammys. And she just kept twerking like she copyrighted the move.
"Miley better get a pregnancy test after all that twerkin', " joked comedian Kevin Hart during the show. The whole audience may need to as well. The 20-year-old left Gaga in the dust with her gratuitous show of both skin and gesturing this year, blowing up social media with images and commentary on her performance.
After Miley's dance, we'll never look at a foam finger the same way again. Prancing about the stage with the prop, the singer made every rude, crude gesture imaginable. Then she took it a step further and made Robin Thicke the victim of some very lewd pokes.
Ultimately, Miley Cyrus has made it clear over and over again that she is all grown up and raising the bar for sexiness and strangeness with every appearance. Could she be the next Lady Gaga? Where do you think she'll go from here?
As Jay Z says in "Somewhereinamerica," "Somewhere in America / Miley Cyrus is still twerkin' / Twerk, twerk Miley, Miley."