53 Life-Altering Moments The VMAs Burned Into Your Brain Forever

Let's take a look back at Britney's snake, Madonna's make-out session, Michael Jackson's irreplaceable mark, and more VMA legends.

The VMAs don’t do boring. They don’t do passive. No one’s ever yawned during the VMAs — and that’s a scientific fact*. They’re not the classical music awards (no shade — if you’re offended by that, you’re probably much smarter than I am for listening to classical music.)

The VMAs take music to the next level, stunt without shame, go hard, and leave you Drake-level emotional. The VMAs have no chill. None at all. But you didn’t come here for that. So before the 2014 VMAs leave you in a temporary trance state in which you can only respond with the words “slayed,” “dead,” “yaaaaaass” and “I can’t,” on August 24, let’s take a look back at some of the VMA moments — some obvious, some deepfaves — that are probably burned into your brain, psyche, soul, and heart.

(Note — I haven’t delved into most of the VMAs of the 1980s, because the term “Fine Young Cannibals” may not mean anything to you and because there’s an excellent chance you weren’t born yet. In fact, your parents may not have even met yet in the ’80s. But a special shout-out goes to Peter Gabriel for winning 10 VMAs in 1987 for his revoluationary “Sledgehammer” video. He was nominated for 12 VMAs total and held the record for most VMA nominations until Lady Gaga earned 13 nominations in 2010. Also, if you’re just here from the Britney of it all, just skip down to 1999, or do a Ctrl+F Britney. I understand.)

1. In 1984, Madonna opened the very first VMAs ever the best way she knew how — by humping the Radio City Music Hall floor during “Like A Virgin.”

2. Madonna performs “Vogue” at the 1990 VMAs dressed in full Victorian regalia. All of the fans, all of the powder, all of the wigs.


3. Nirvana performed “Rape Me” and “Lithium” at the 1992 VMAs, and if you remember 1992, you remember this iconic moment in rock history, you remember Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic smashing their respective instruments, and you remember Dave Grohl trolling Axl Rose.

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