17 Of The Most Controversial Moments in VMAs History (VIDEOS)

I’ve always enjoyed the VMAs because there is always that one moment that gets everyone talking.

From Kanye interrupting Taylor to Madonna, Britney and Christina’s three way kiss – these iconic moments are still talked about today.

We count down the most hand over mouth moments presented in no particular order, because they’re all so good.

#1. Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift (2009)


Who would have thought that nearly ten years later, this moment would keep on giving?

Just when Taylor was giving her Best Female Video acceptance speech, moon man in hand, Kanye rushed the stage.

“Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” Ouch.

At the 2015 VMAs, the two appeared to be way above the drama, with Taylor presenting Kanye the Video Vanguard Award.

There was talk of a collaboration and Kanye even gifted his pal  with “the coolest flowers”).

But then in 2016, all hell broke loose with the release of Kanye’s “Famous.” The lyrics plus a wax work figure of Taylor naked in the video, ticked off the ‘Love Story’ singer.

This was then followed Kim Kardashian releasing video of Taylor apparently approving the Famous lyrics. Taylor was called a snake and disappeared for about a year.

She recently came back with her epic album ‘Bad Reputation.’ In true Taylor style she trashed Kimye in her smash hit ‘Look What You Made Me Do.’

Oh Kanye, if only you let her finish…

#2. Taylor Says “Shut The F*** Up” During 1D’s Acceptance Speech (2013)

Fans were really rooting for ‘Haylor’ aka Taylor Swift and 1D’s Harry Styles to go the distance.

It was the perfect pop partnership fans couldn’t decide who was prettier.

But like all of Taylor’s romances to date – it soon went south.

Eight months after their breakup, Taylor and Harry were under the same roo at the 2013 VMAs. A shady cameraman panned to Taylor as Harry joined One Direction to accept the award for Best Pop Video.

During their speech, Taylor was caught mouthing “Shut the f** up” as BFF Selena Gomez looked on up.

That same night, Taylor won Best Female Video for “I Knew You Were Trouble,” which has long been rumored to be about Harry.

In her acceptance speech she thanked “the person who inspired this song because he knows exactly who he is, because now I’ve got one of these.”

#3. #Yeezy2020 Is Born (2015)


Yes, Taylor is on the list again!

In their brief make up period, Taylor presented Kanye with the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award.

During his ten minute speech he made references to booing, Justin Timberlake, smoking “a little something,” and ‘his message for the kids.’

Then he made the shocking announcement that he was running for president in 2020.

One year later, Kanye explained his presidential bid in an interview with BBC Radio 1. “When I talk about the idea of being president, I’m not saying I have any political views.”

“I don’t have views on politics, I just have a view on humanity, on people, on the truth. If there’s anything that I can do with my time and my day, to somehow make a difference while I’m alive, I’m going to try to do it.”

#4. Madonna, Britney Spears, And Christina Aguilera Kiss (2003)

When Britney and Christina starred together as kids in The Mickey Mouse Club they were BFF’s.

But as teens they were bubble gum pop, blonde teen rivals.

But in 2003 they shared a stage together again whilst singing “Like a Virgin” in wedding dresses.

Then all of a sudden the Queen of blonde bubble gum pop, popped out of a cake wearing a suit.

Madonna then passed the baton to both Christina and Britney by kissing them both. But the papers only really reported Madonna kissing Britney.

It could be at that point people expected it from Christina, she had just gone ‘Dirrty’ the year before. However, Britney still had a shade of innocence about her.

The shady cameraman was also in action that night, as Justin Timberlake was pictured looking quite uncomfortable.

#5. Britney Spears Performs With Banana The Yellow Python (2001)

For her performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U,” Britney invited all her jungle friends.

There was dancing, her trademark lip syncing and a real tiger everyone forgot about.

She then cast Banana the snake around her neck (who apparently didn’t even go by that name at the time.)

In 2016, MTV checked in with the snake’s trainer, who confirmed that the female snake is alive but “a lot bigger now.”

She was now 100 pounds and 15 feet and happily living with a friend.

That same year, Britney did some reflecting on the performance and called the whole thing “so dumb.”

#6. Lady Gaga Wears A Meat Dress (2010)

17 Of The Most Controversial Moments in VMAs History (VIDEOS)

In 2010 the world was completely Gaga. The ‘Let’s Dance’ singer was nominated for 13 moon men.

But everyone soon forgot about her musical achievements, when she turned up for the ceremony in 40 pounds of Argentinian beef.

The beef was carved and shaped into a dress by designer Franc Fernandez, who made a matching hat, purse, and beef-wrapped heels to go with the look.

The dress was Gaga’s third outfit of the evening, following gowns by Armani and Alexander McQueen.

Gaga later told Ellen DeGeneres in an interview that the meat dress was her way of making a statement against the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.

“It has many interpretations, but for me this evening, it’s ‘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 much rights as the meat on our bones.’ ”

#7. Michael Jackson Gives An Acceptance Speech For The “Artist Of The Millennium” Award, Which Doesn’t Exist (2002)


The 2002 VMAs coincided with Michael Jackson’s 44th birthday, so MTV decided to celebrate the happy occasion.

He was introduced by Britney Spears who called  MJ the “artist of the millennium,” which gave him the idea that he had won some brand new award.

He gave an acceptance speech, thanked his parents and magician David Blaine.

#8. Lil’ Kim Wears A Purple Pastie (1999)

17 Of The Most Controversial Moments in VMAs History (VIDEOS)

Lil Kim made a bold fashion statement at the 1999 ceremony, when she arrived in an electric purple wig and purple jumpsuit.

The jumpsuit dipped below her left breast which Kim only wore a pastie to cover her nipples.

When Diana Ross came out to present Best Hip-Hop Video with Kim and Mary J. Blige, she was so enamored by her co-presenter’s cleavage, she gave it a little jiggle that induced a big laugh from Kim.

#9. Marilyn Manson Brings “The Dope Show” And Kissing Cops To The VMAs (1998)

Manson’s scarily good performance included an appearance by transgender artist Goddess Bunny, one of the stars of “The Dope Show” music video.

17 Of The Most Controversial Moments in VMAs History (VIDEOS)
17 Of The Most Controversial Moments in VMAs History (VIDEOS)

On the red carpet appearance his then-girlfriend Rose McGowan also made everyone look twice with her barely there gown.

#10. Madonna Performs “Like a Virgin” In A White Wedding Dress (1984)


For her VMAs debut, Madonna emerged from a 17-foot tall wedding cake in a big white dress, a bustier, and a belt buckle that said “BOY TOY.”

Then one of her shoes fell off. But ever the professional, the soon to be ‘Queen Of Pop’ improvised.
Madonna recalled to Billboard in 2014 for the performance’s 30th anniversary, “I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just pretend I meant to do this,’ and I dove on the floor and I rolled around. And, as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up. And the underpants were showing.”

#11. Miley Cyrus Twerks (2013)

The infamous ‘Miley Twerk’ seen, heard, and overanalyzed around the world for weeks.

Many felt that the then married 36-year-old and the 21-year-old former Disney star’s performance was more than inappropriate.

In 2017, Miley reflected on that era of her life, telling Harper’s Bazaar that the look “became something that was expected of me.” She added that the whole experience “got to a point where I did feel sexualized.”

#12. “MILEY, WHAT’S GOOD?” (2015)

Taylor Swift makes the list again!

This time she was involved in a misunderstanding between Nicki Minaj over her VMA nominations (re: “women with very slim bodies always being nominated.”) That year, Miley was hosting the awards. She told the New York Times that she saw Nicki’s actions as making it about herself.

“Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, ‘Eh, I didn’t get my VMA’… If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself.”

Days later, on the VMAs stage, Nicki confronted Miley during an acceptance speech for Best Hip Hop Video. “Back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”

Miley, who hosted that year, responded, “We’re all in this industry. We all do interviews, and we all know how they manipulate shit. Nicki, Congratu-f***ing-lations.”

In October that year, Nicki offered one final thought about the exchange, telling the Times, “The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls.”

“You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad.”

#13. Lady Gaga Bleeds On Stage (2009)

This was pure Gaga presenting her world and vision to MTV, complete with a falling chandelier, a face mask, sick choreography, a grand piano, and blood.

So. Much. Blood.

#14. Fiona Apple Proclaims, “This World Is Bullsh*t” (1997)


In her speech for Best New Artist, 20-year-old Fiona told viewers that the world they were living in was “bullsh*t” and that it was better they didn’t follow their idols.

“Go with yourself. Go with yourself,” she said on stage, before thanking her mother, sister, producers, and management.

#15. Kurt Cobain Sings “Rape Me” Against MTV’s Wishes (1992)

After MTV asked Nirvana to perform “Smells Like Teen Spirit” instead of their other hit “Rape Me,” Kurt Cobain snuck in a few lines of the latter anyway.

Krist Novoselic then threw his bass guitar into the air but failed to catch it, causing him to make a messy, messy exit….

#16. Lil Mama Crashes Jay Z And Alicia Keys (2009)

“Just think, nobody thought this would last,” said Michael Jackson at the time. And it didn’t.

But before the end of his brief marriage to Elvis Presley’s daughter concluded, the pair awkwardly declared their love public at the 1994 VMAs.

Written by Christine Haveford

Christine loves all things cinema, and she's been that way ever since she was a little girl. In fact, she is so passionate about cinema that she decided to pursue cinematography as a full-time career, and is now pursuing film studies at the New York Film School. Originally from Florida, she is still exploring the new city, people, places, and the culture, loves the new weather, going ice skating during winters, and spending time with her fellow classmates and friends from college.

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