1991 Video Music Awards
Host: Arsenio Hall
Venue: Universal Amphitheatre
City: Los Angeles, CA
Date: September 5, 1991
Video of the Year: R.E.M. "Losing My Religion"
1991 Video Music Awards
All joking aside, the 1991 VMAs was an important event for us. There was a huge reason to throw a party: MTV had not only lasted a decade, but was a thriving juggernaut with a significant pop culture legacy.
And fittingly, the 1991 Video Music Awards show was scene of many moments:
Historic: The Video Vanguard Award was renamed the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in honor of his contributions to the culture of music videos.
Violent: Contrary to popular belief, Poison's Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille threw down backstage after it was decided that DeVille's performance sucked, not because C.C. looked RIDICULOUS with pink hair.
Controversial: The VMA stage welcomed the first public appearance of Paul Ruebens following the actor/comedian's arrest for lewd-conduct earlier in the year, an event that made him a popular punchline of the time. In costume as his beloved character Pee-Wee Herman, he coolly responded to a standing ovation by asking, "Heard any good jokes lately?"
When it came to the Moonmen trophies, R.E.M. may have been losing their religion but they certainly weren't losing awards as they walked away from the '91 VMAs with six for their hit "Losing My Religion." Among the haul for Michael Stipe and his pals from Athens, Georgia, were trophies for Video of the Year and Best Breakthrough Video.
But R.E.M. did lose one award, as the all-important and hard-to-score Viewer's Choice award went to Queensryche for the video for their smash-hit ballad "Silent Lucidity."
And 1991 was the year that C+C Music Factory showed the world that grown men can mix bondage attire with bike shorts and still be cool while dancing. And that's why we gave Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul a break, instead honoring C+C with the Best Choreography Moonman for the video for their workout staple "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."
When it came to performances, MTV continued to prove that there is no equal to the VMAs when it comes to music. Big winners R.E.M. jangled their way through "Losing My Religion," there was the aforementioned Poison performance of "Unskinny Bop" that caused a ruckus that got C.C. DeVille booted from the band, and C+C Music Factory literally made everyone sweat.
Dialing down the speed metal that was their calling card, 1991 saw Metallica redefine their sound to something more commercially viable, broadening their appeal and immensely increasing their popularity worldwide. Nonetheless, they still had balls enough to make the VMA audience's knees tremble with the nightmarish "Enter Sandman," And this was years before the band sought group therapy and got in touch with their inner children.
There were also performances by the likes of Prince, EMF, Guns N' Roses and Van Halen, but it was chiseled hip-hop veteran LL Cool J who brought the thunder with his performance of "Mama Said Knock You Out." Like his video for the song, LL came out clad in boxing attire and proceeded to throw lyrical punches that left everyone watching laying spent on the canvas.
Don't call it a comeback, the MTV Video Music Awards were alive, pulsing and more relevant than ever, even with Arsenio in the driver's seat.
1991 VMA Winners
Video of the Year
Best Male Video
Best Female Video
Best Group Video
Best Rap Video
Best Dance Video
C+C Music Factory
Best New Artist
Best Metal/Hard Rock
Best Alternative Video
Best Long Form Video
- Aerosmith - Things That Go Pump In The Night
- Peter Gabriel - P.O.V.
- R.E.M. - Tour Film
Best Video From A Film
- Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
- Guns N' Roses - You Could Be Mine
- Jon Bon Jovi - Blaze Of Glory
C+C Music Factory
Best Special Effects
Faith No More
Best Art Direction
1991 VMA Performances
Pee-wee Herman Introduced Show
Van Halen "Poundcake"
C+C Music Factory "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm" / "Here We Go" / "Gonna Make You Sweet (Everybody Dance Now)"
Poison "Talk Dirty To Me"
Mariah Carey "Emotions"
Paula Abdul "Vibeology"
Queensryche "Silent Lucidity"
LL Cool J "Mama Said Knock You Out"
Metallica "Enter Sandman"
Don Henley "Heart of the Matter"
Guns N' Roses "Live and Let Die"
Prince & The New Power Generation "Gett Off"
1991 VMA Photos
1991 Highlights Arsenio returns as host in this transitional year, where Bon Jovi, Poison, Metallica and Van Halen, icons of the ‘80s, perform side by side with ‘90s rock and rap revolutionaries like R.E.M. and L.L. Cool.