Ever since they launched in 1994, the Europe Music Awards have brought the spectacle of the Video Music Awards to the global stage. And with the 2013 MTV EMA set to take over Amsterdam this Sunday, that trend will undoubtedly continue.
Especially with a lineup that includes performers like Katy Perry , Miley Cyrus , Robin Thicke and Bruno Mars , a pack of nominees headed up by Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (with the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and One Direction close behind), backstage reporting from rising star Ariana Grande and emceeing from international party purveyor RedFoo .
In short, it’s gonna be big. But, as has always been the case with the EMA, Sunday’s show will also be so much more. Because for whatever the reason, the stars seem to bring out their best when they head to Europe, going for broke — or going completely crazy — whenever they hit the EMA stage (maybe it’s the socialized medicine). In the process, they’ve managed to turn the show into can’t-miss TV … the rare awards telecast where truly anything can happen.
And in the countdown to Amsterdam — the 2013 MTV EMA will air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on MTV, kicking off with an epic pre-show from NYC — here’s a look back at some of the most, memorable moments in EMA history. The kind of stuff they’d never let us get away with on American TV (thanks FCC.)
Bono calls the president of France “A Wanker”: A little backstory … the 1995 EMA show was held in Paris, at the height of the controversy surrounding France’s nuclear testing in the South Pacific. So, naturally, when U2 strode to the podium to accept their award for Best Group that night, Bono used the opportunity to express his outrage — and take a shot at president Jacques Chirac. “What a city, what a night, what a crowd, what a bomb,” he shouted. “What a mistake, what a wanker you have for president. What are you gonna do about it?”
J.Lo flies the friendly skies: There are plenty of ways to make your presence known at award shows, not all of which involve nudity and/or inebriation. Case in point, Jennifer Lopez’s epic entrance at the 2000 EMA in Stockholm, where she literally landed on the stage in an airplane before performing “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” Sadly, because of FAA regulations, this would never happen in the states, meaning we’re stuck with stuff like Gaga in an egg at the Grammys .
P.Diddy demands nudity: Sure, his stint as host at the 2002 EMA was largely a forgettable one, though Diddy did manage one particularly memorable moment when he offered a diamond-encrusted pinky ring to any woman who would get naked on stage . Before he could even finish his sentence, a woman took him up on his offer, hopping on stage and shedding her dress much to the delight of the crowd inside Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi. She then grabbed the ring and high-tailed it backstage … once again proving why Europe rules.
Borat works blue : Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen had previously hosted the EMA in 2001 as his alter-ego Ali G. He returned in 2005 as the beloved Borat and … well, he hasn’t been asked back since. That’s probably due to the bevy of howlingly funny highlights he gave viewers through the night, which included referring to show-opener Madonna as “a genuine transvestite,” introducing Pussycat Dolls as “international singing prostitutes,” and joking that, in his native Kazakh, Shakira translates to vagina. “For example,” he explained, “‘I have seen your wife’s Shakira, it hangs like the mouth of a tired dog.'”
Kanye’s first stage storming: At this point, Kanye
West’s award-show outbursts are the stuff of legend … but up until the 2006 EMA, he had never taken his tantrums to the stage . When his “Touch The Sky” clip loses to Justice and Simian’s “We Are Your Friends,” West leapt onstage , interrupted the duo’s acceptance speech, and launched into a tirade that included him boasting “My video deserved to win because it cost a million dollars and Pamela Anderson was in it.” His rant continued backstage, where he told members of the press that Simian’s win was “complete bullsh–. I paid a million … it took a month to film; I stood on a mountain; I flew a helicopter over Vegas … I did it to be the king of all videos.” Consider this the practice run for “Imma Let You Finish …”
Rick Astley Rickrolls Europe: During the height of his “Rickrolling” revival, Astley — he of “Never Gonna Give You Up” fame — was named Best Act Ever at the 2008 EMA, thanks to 100 million votes cast by “fans.” Astley beat the likes of U2, Britney Spears and the Beatles for the award … though, bizarrely, he didn’t show up to accept it, instead releasing a straightforward statement that said he was “honoured” to win.
Katy Perry works overtime: In her first of two turns hosting the show, Perry kicked off the 2008 EMA with performance that saw her straddle atop a giant tube of ChapStick while dressed as a football player, then changed her outfit a staggering twelve times throughout the course of the show. She also gave a mid-show shout out to new president Barack Obama, and took home the award for Best New Act. Not too bad for your first day on the job.