This year’s MTV Video Music Awards on the 27th of August were, among other things, expected to be dramatic because of the long-standing Taylor Swift-Katy Perry rivalry, with the first one promoting the video for her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do” and the latter one hosting the show.
The VMAs are well-known for regularly yielding controversial moments which are discussed for years after, so let’s look at some of the most contentious ones from the past.
1. Madonna and Britney Spears kissing (2003)
The two locked lips when Spears joined the Queen of Pop for a performance of “Like a Virgin,” along with Christina Aguilera.
Madonna and Aguilera also kissed, but it was mostly missed because the camera quickly cut to Britney’s ex, Justin Timberlake.
2. Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech (2009)
One of the most notorious moments in the history of VMA is Kanye West interrupting Taylor’s acceptance speech for winning Best Female Video in 2009. The rapper tried to show his support for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” music video but instead managed to start up a feud with T-Swift.
3. Lady Gaga’s meat dress (2010)
On the Ellen DeGeneres show, Gaga revealed that the meaning behind the much-talked-about outfit was a statement regarding the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy towards LGBTQ+ service members. “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as many rights as the meat on our bones,” she said at the time.
4. Britney Spears’ snake performance (2001)
Spears took her steamy Amazon-themed look to another level when she decided to wrap an actual snake around her shoulders during her performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U.”
5. Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus (2015)
After Cyrus commented on Nicki seeming upset over nominations that year, Minaj hit back at her colleague during her acceptance speech.
The camera cut to Miley, who was the host that year, where she responded, “We’re all in this industry. We all do interviews, and we all know how they manipulate stuff.”
6. Lil’ Kim’s purple pasty (1999)
The rapper famously made headlines with her outfit for the 1999 awards. The over-the-shoulder jumpsuit exposing her left breast covered just by a single pasty left little to the imagination.
Diana Ross had her own shocking moment that year when she reached over to touch Lil Kim’s breast.
7. Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke (2013)
Miley got down and dirty during her performance with the R&B singer.
8. Lil Mama crashing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance (2009)
While Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performed “Empire State of Mind,” Lil Mama hopped up on stage and began dancing alongside them. She also posed with the pair at the end of the song.
9. Kanye’s ten-minute speech (2015)
Two years ago, Kanye West gave a very long acceptance speech when he accepted the Video Vanguard Award. The award was presented by none other than Taylor Swift, after they had reconciled, but before their latest feud. During the speech, Kanye revealed his ambition to become US President in 2020.
10. Michael Jackson accepting a fake award (2002)
The 2002 VMAs happened to take place on Michael Jackson’s 44th birthday so they decided to have Britney Spears present him with a token in celebration of his big day.
However, when Britney said the line, “I consider him the artist of the millennium,” Jackson apparently thought that was the award he was presented with and proceeded to give an acceptance speech for the non-existent recognition.