The VMAs have become synonymous with iconic and game-changing performances. It seems that ever since the very first Video Music Awards, performers have been trying to raise the bar and put on even more groundbreaking performances with each passing year. But none of that could’ve been done without these historic and memorable performances that paved the way for future artists to make their mark.
Madonna’s 1984 Performance Of “Like A Virgin”
At the very first VMAs, Madonna put on a show that set in motion all of the craziness that the VMAs have since become known for. While the NSFW performance has since become one of the most notorious pop performances ever, it was not exactly planned. While walking down a 17-foot wedding cake, Madonna’s white stiletto slipped off. So, she rolled with it (literally) and dove onto the floor.
Michael Jackson’s 1995 Performance
In an epic 15-minute long (yes, you read that right) performance, Michael Jackson lived up to his name as the King of Pop. Without missing a beat, he belted out several of his classic hits: “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” and “Black or White.” His performance had it all: from moonwalking, to backup dancers propelling from the ceiling, to Gun ‘N Roses’ Slash jamming out with Jackson as fans collectively lost their minds.
Britney Spears’s 2001 Performance Of “I’m A Slave 4 U”
In one of her most memorable performances to date, Britney Spears shocked audiences by walking around the 2001 VMA stage with Bananas- an albino Burmese python. We’re not sure how Britney managed to keep her cool and sing “I’m A Slave 4 U” while holding a python behind her neck, but it locked down her spot in VMA history.
Lady Gaga’s 2010 Announcement Of “Born This Way”
How can anyone forget the time that Lady Gaga arrived at the VMAs in a dress made of raw meat? Gaga wore the dress to collect her Moonman after winning Video Of The Year for “Bad Romance.” During her acceptance speech, an emotional Lady Gaga flawlessly sang the chorus of “Born This Way” for the first time to the world, before it went on to become an anthem for love and acceptance.
Beyonce’s 2011 Performance Of “Love On Top”
No list is complete without Queen Bey. After hitting notes higher than we thought humanly possible in her 2011 VMA performance of “Love On Top,” Beyonce dropped a bombshell on the audience without even saying a word. After tossing her mic to the side, she unbuttoned her sparkling blazer and started rubbing her stomach to announce she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy. Slay, all day.
Katy Perry’s 2013 Performance Of “Roar”
Before Katy Perry was hosting the VMAs, she was closing out the 2013 VMAs with her powerful performance of “Roar.” Decked out in boxing attire and a tiger print top, Katy Perry was ready to throw some punches as she sang her hit song from inside of a boxing ring. As her performance and the epic night came to a close, Katy Perry held up her well-deserved champion belt, with signs reading “Game Over” held up behind her.
Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 Performance Of “DNA” and “Humble”
Kendrick Lamar’s medley performance was literally lit. As dancers climbed up a wall of fire behind Kendrick, the crowd shouted along the lyrics to his two hit songs. After that performance, it was no surprise that Kendrick walked home with the Video of the Year Award for “Humble.”
Check out some of the most groundbreaking songs that have shaped VMA history!