MTV’s Video Music Awards have brought us memorable musical moments ever since Madonna first belted out “Like a Virgin” onstage at the first-ever show in 1984. From Britney Spears emerging with a live python to Eminem’s fleet of lookalikes, here are the best performances that ever took place on the VMA stage. Scroll through below, and don’t forget to tune in to MTV on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET to see this year’s contenders.
1. 'N Sync’s Reunion (2013)
Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass may have said “Bye Bye Bye” to 'N Sync back in 2002, but the classic ‘90s boy band reassembled to celebrate JT’s 2013 Video Vanguard win with a medley of their greatest hits.
2. Beyoncé’s Big Reveal (2011)
Beyonce’s big pregnancy announcement following her performance of “Love on Top” at the 2011 VMAs was the bump heard ’round the world.
3. Britney Spears’s Snake Moment (2001)
The princess of pop completely dominated the 2001 VMA stage when she danced with a giant yellow python draped over her shoulders.
4. Michael Jackson’s Unforgettable Medley (1995)
Michael Jackson pulled together a captivating 15-minute performance for the 1995 VMAs, four years after the Video Vanguard (Lifetime Achievement) Award was renamed after him to honor his ongoing contribution to the music biz.
5. Puff Daddy and Faith Evans’s Tribute to Biggie Smalls (1997)
Puff Daddy gave a moving performance at the 1997 VMAs in honor of his partner and longtime friend, The Notorious B.I.G., who was killed earlier the same year. Sting, Faith Evans, and 112 joined him on stage, backed by a gospel choir, to perform his tribute song, “I’ll Be Missing You.”
6. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna’s Three-Way Kiss (2003)
Britney Spears, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott opened the 2003 VMAs with a showstopping number, alluding to Madge’s 1984 VMA performance of “Like a Virgin,” and one very memorable onstage kiss.
7. Eminem’s Cohort of Clones (2000)
Eminem and 100 other Slim Shadys kicked-off the 2000 VMAs outside Radio City Music Hall performing “The Real Slim Shady” and “The Way I Am,” marking the first time an artist continued his act from the streets indoors to the stage.