Over the course of nearly two decades, [artist id="988"]Green Day[/artist] have turned the Video Music Awards into their very own punk-rock playground. From their snotty debut at the 1994 show (when they tore through “Armatage Shanks”) to their victory lap in 2005 — where they reaped the benefits of American Idiot and took home seven Moonmen , including Video of the Year — they’ve had so many memorable moments that it’s sort of amazing we haven’t named an award in their honor yet.
To wit: They’ve performed four times, won 11 awards, and debuted more Manic Panic-enhanced hairstyles than a cashier at Ricky’s. They’ve spat and snarled and even gotten grandiose (check their version of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from the ’05 show for proof). And because of all that, they’ve established a VMA legacy on par with the likes of Madonna or Britney Spears or Kanye West … it’s practically unthinkable to think of a show going on without them.
Luckily for all us, they’ll be back at the 2012 Video Music Awards , debuting a song off their upcoming ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tre! trilogy. And while they’re not up for any awards, we’re willing to bet, based on previous efforts, they’re going to make a permanent mark on this year’s show, too. So in anticipation of that performance, here’s a look back at some of Green Day’s greatest VMA moments.
It all began back in ’94, when, coming off the breakout success of their Dookie album, they took it upon themselves to premiere a song off their next record, Insomniac. Undaunted by the prospects of performing back-to-back with the Beastie Boys (on a rotating stage), they blasted through a warts-n-all take on “Armatage Shanks,” blew the Beasties out of the building, and served notice that they’d be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
They followed that up with a performance the following year that was beamed live from Stockholm — and broadcast “via spit-cam” (as host Dennis Miller quipped “Like there aren’t enough suicides over there”) — and debuted another new song, “Stuck With Me.” And yes, there were plenty of goobers hocked at the poor, unsuspecting camera crew.
It would be another 10 years — and three studio albums — before they’d return to the VMA stage (maybe we held a grudge for all the damaged cameras), but they more than made up for lost time. Opening the show with a thundering version of “Boulevard” — one that was aided by some seriously potent pyro — they set the stage for the triumphant night ahead. By the time they closed things by accepting Video of the Year, it was clear that not only had Green Day not lost a step, but they were better than ever.
And finally, in 2009, they got the party started early, playing an impromptu concert for stageworkers during VMA rehearsals, then following that up with a sneering, snarling take on “East Jesus Nowhere” during the show itself. Not only did it hearken back to their debut 15 years earlier, but it once again proved the point we’ve been making all along: When it comes to stealing the show, nobody does it better than Green Day. We can’t wait to see what they do this year.