16 VMA Moments We Wish We Could Relive
1986: Whitney Houston Brings the House Down
If you type "diva" into YouTube, Whitney Houston's VMA performance of "How Will I Know?" should be the top result. Houston's vocals were at their best: soaring, goosebump-inducing, and amazing.
1989: Bon Jovi Inspires Unplugged
Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora performed soulful, stripped down versions of "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Wanted Dead or Alive" at the 1989 VMAs. The two men, with just two guitars, so enthralled the crowd that MTV was inspired to create Unplugged, one of their most popular and critically acclaimed series ever.
1990: Madonna Vogues
Madonna, at the height of her "Truth or Dare" fabulousness, shut it down when she performed "Vogue" in full Marie Antoinette drag (complete with snapping fans and pantless backup dancers).
1992: Nirvana's Bassist Nearly Knocks Himself Out
MTV execs wanted Niravana to play their generation-defining grunge anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the '92 VMAs, but the band wanted to play the controversial "Rape Me" instead. A compromise was struck and Nirvana agreed to perform "Lithium." In a bout of rock and roll rebellion on show night, Kurt Cobain started playing the first few notes of "Rape Me" live on stage giving execs heart attacks. The band quickly switched over to playing "Lithium" and ended their set spectacularly with Krist Novoselic throwing his bass high into the air, only to catch it with his face. He stumbled offstage while Cobain gleefully smashed amps.
1995: Courtney Love's Awkward Moment with Madonna
In one of the juicier moments in VMA history, Courtney Love crashed Madonna’s post-show interview by tossing makeup compacts (and whatever else was in her purse) at the diva. Madonna proceeded to give us all a lesson in shade with her exquisite side-eyes and barely masked disdain for Love. "Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now," is still one of the greatest cut-downs ever.
1997: The Foo Fighters Perform ON THE MARQUEE
Our favorite performance from the '97 VMAs happened during the pre-show. To kick off the festivities, the Foo Fighters took to top of the iconic of Radio City Music Hall marquee to perform a raw version of "Monkey Wrench."
1998: Rose McGowan Upstages Marilyn Manson
For once, no one was paying any attention to Marilyn Manson. The red-haired, leopard-suited shock rocker showed up on the red carpet with his girlfriend Rose McGowan who wore a sparkling fishnet gown, a G-string, and a smile.
1999: Lil' Kim Exposed
When Lil' Kim approached the microphone wearing a blue wig and seashell pastie, Diana Ross couldn't keep her hands to herself. The legendary diva jiggled the rapper's exposed breast while Mary J. Blige looked on (presumably feeling left out).
2000: Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?
Eminem took to the VMA stage in 2000 to perform "The Real Slim Shady" and "The Way I Am" while leading an army of hundreds of Marshall Mathers. The blond and buzzed phalanx of doppelgangers flooded Radio City Music Hall.
2001: Pop Royalty Takes the Stage
The reigning princes of Pop, *NSYNC, brought down the house with a surprise guest: the King of Pop Michael Jackson. Jackson showed off some of his iconic dance moves while Justin Timberlake beatboxed.
2001: Britney Spears Reigns
Britney Spears slithered on stage draped with a seven-foot-long albino boa constrictor (and not much else) for her performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U" reducing the world to drooling, mesmerized mass of minions. We’re still your slaves, Britney!
2005: Kelly Clarkson Gets Wet
Kelly Clarkson performed her cathartic break-up anthem "Since You've Been Gone" with vocal-cord-straining passion while barefoot in the pouring (fake) rain. The high energy performance catapulted her from American Idol ingénue to diva-in-training status.
2009: Taylor Swift Takes the Subway
In a cool, totally New York moment, Taylor Swift performed "You Belong with Me" live on the F train as it barreled towards Radio City Music Hall. The moment would later be completely overshadowed by Kanye West's pop culture earmark, the "Imma Let You Finish" stage bomb.
2009: Janet Jackson's Tearful Tribute to Her Brother
Just weeks after her brother's death, Janet Jackson appeared at the 2009 VMAs to perform their hit "Scream" in an emotional tribute to Michael. Jackson wiped away tears while she bowed to the crowd's standing ovation.
2011: Baby Carter Makes Her First Public Appearance
Blue Ivy Carter made her stage debut, still in Beyoncé's tummy, at the 2011 VMAs. A clearly jubilant Beyoncé performed "Love on Top" and, for a finale, pulled back her sequined tuxedo jacket to reveal a growing baby bump! It was the world's first mic-drop-worthy celebrity baby announcement.
2012: Gabby Douglas' Gold Metal-Worthy Performance
America's sweetheart Gabby Douglas, barefoot and clad in leather leggings, showed off her gold medal skills and nailed a series of impressive back-flips on the 2012 VMAs stage while Alicia Keys debuted her monster hit song: "Girl on Fire."