The VMAs never disappoint when it comes to shock factor.
Over the years, the MTV Video Music Awards have become known for their epic performances. Whenever top stars hit the stage at the VMAs, you can be sure they’ll be aiming to top the last performance they delivered. From revealing costumes, to risque choreography and major life revelations, these are the most memorable performances in VMAs history.
Prince always bared his soul in his music, but he bared a little more than that at the 1991 VMAs. The “Purple Rain” singer rocked a pair of assless chaps as he performed "Gett Off,” and it was the most-talked-about performance of the night.
Britney Spears brought an unexpected friend to the 2001 MTV VMAs. While hitting the stage to perform “I’m a Slave 4 U,” she brought out an albino Burmese python. Somehow, Brit made twirling and singing with a snake look effortless, and it received plenty of gasps from the audience.
It was the smooch seen ‘round the world. After singing Madonna’s hits “Like a Virgin” and “Hollywood,” Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera locked lips with the music icon right before Missy Elliott hit the stage to join them. The steamy moment shocked fans at home, especially considering television in 2003 was far less risqué than it is today. As for Xtina, she didn’t think much of the pucker-up moment. "It wasn't shocking back then. It's not shocking now, to me,” she told Zane Lowe in September 2020.
Queen Bey had the biggest and best surprise for fans watching the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. After her rousing performance of "Love on Top,” she announced her first pregnancy by unbuttoning her jacket and revealing her growing baby bump.
All hell broke loose on the internet after Miley Cyrus’ raunchy performance at the 2013 VMAs. Some thought her twerking on Robin Thicke and foam finger dance moves were a bit ~too~ much, but she owned the stage just like she always does.
When Justin Timberlake hit the stage at the 2013 VMAs, he had the surprise of the century up his sleeve. His former NSYNC bandmates popped out of the stage to join him and proceeded to belt out a medley of their best hits. It wasn’t the show fans were expecting — it was better.
Camila Cabello departed Fifth Harmony in December 2016, and even a year her exit, there seemed to be some bad blood between her and the remaining members. When 5H performed at the 2017 VMAs, they kicked a fake member of the group off-stage, seemingly a nod to Cabello.
Like a true performer, Lorde insisted the show must go on at the 2017 VMAs despite having the flu. Even though she was incapable of singing, she hit the floor and showed off her best dance moves while her hit “Homemade Dynamite” played in the background.