Relive 10 of the most memorable performances from the VMAs
The VMAs are always home to some of the best stage performances around.
The 2017 MTV Video Music Awards has finally arrived for its annual weekend takeover; with the official broadcast airing this Sunday (Aug. 27).
As we’ve seen year after year, the legendary celebration honoring the art of the music video brings quite the party, full of outrageous fashion statements, memorable live performances and, of course, a little sprinkle of on-air drama.
The show’s legacy lies in its showmanship and in its unpredictable live nature, with performers often going above and beyond to make sure that they best utilize their time on stage, either by giving their all or by giving the audience something to write home about.
As reported, the 2017 VMAs (and its pre-show) will see performances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, host Katy Perry, P!nk, Shawn Mendes, Logic, Khalid, Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Gucci Mane, Fifth Harmony, Post Malone, Cardi B, DNCE and more.
In the spirit of this weekend’s festivities, we’ve taken a nostalgic deep dive into some of the most memorable and show-stopping live performances the Video Music Awards has played host to over the years.
Michael Jackson (1995)
Michael Jackson was graciously awarded a full 15 minutes on stage during the 1995 VMAs, during which he performed a medley of songs from his storied catalog. Four years later, the VMAs renamed the Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award after the legendary musician to honor his contributions to pop culture.
Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, Sting & 112 (1997)
In 1997, in honor of the late Biggie Smalls, who tragically was killed earlier the same year, Puff Daddy organized an incredible live rendition of his heartfelt tribute, “I’ll Be Missing You.” He was also joined by Sting, Faith Evans and 112, with each performer backed by a powerful gospel choir to pay homage to the late iconic rapper.
For Eminem’s performance of the “Real Slim Shady” and “The Way I Am,” in 2000, the Detroit rapper recruited 100 other Slim Shady “clones,” with the performance marking the first time an artist continued their act from the streets, through the audience indoors and onto the stage.
Britney Spears (2001)
Britney Spears, at the peak of her reign as pop’s princess, gave a memorable performance of her track, “I’m a Slave 4 U,” during which she held a giant yellow python over her shoulders.
Britney Spears, Madonna, Christina Aguilera & Missy Elliott (2003)
This performance featured the now-infamous 2-second onstage kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears, and then between Madonna and Christina Aguilera. This was one of the most-talked about moments from the 2003 VMAs, with the performance an ode to Madonna’s 1984 rendition of “Like a Virgin,” which she performed at the inaugural VMAs.
Lady Gaga (2009)
As exemplified over the years, Lady Gaga truly shines during award shows, with the 2009 VMAs often heralded as one of her best live performances. During the performance, she plays off of the music video for “Paparazzi,” but instead of falling like she does in the visual treatment, she begins bleeding from her chest, adding to the brilliant drama of the pop ballad’s impactful ending.
Beyoncé (2011 & 2016)
While Beyoncé did what she does best during the 2011 VMAs and absolutely slayed her live performance, fans will never forget that she ended her rendition of “Love on Top” with a captivating pregnancy reveal.
Years later, in 2016, Bey not only broke Madonna’s record, becoming the most decorated artist in VMAs history with an impressive 24 trophies, she also broke the internet, giving a surprise 15-minute medley performance of songs off of her visual album, Lemonade.
Justin Timberlake (2013)
During his performance at the 2013 VMAs, Justin Timberlake surprised fans by bringing out each of his former N*Sync cohorts, resulting in the boy band’s first reunion in over a decade.
Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke (2013)
This performance skewed on the racier side, with many expressing their shock from Miley Cyrus’ on-stage twerking and accenting her pelvic-thrusts with a large foam finger prop. 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar also made cameos during this performance, ending the show with Thicke’s track “Give It 2 U.”
While Rihanna has taken to the VMAs stage in years past, 2016 presented her with the opportunity to perform no less than four times throughout the evening, with each segment dedicated to different sounds and styles the singer has worked to perfect over the years.