You'll Always Remember These 10 Shocking MTV VMAs Moments

From Kanye West’s feud with Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga’s meat dress, these are the VMAs moments we’ll never forget.

The 10 Most Infamous Moments In MTV Video Music Awards History. Photo via Steve Granitz/WireImage/Ge...
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Many awards shows focus on prestige and elegance, but MTV's Video Music Awards have historically emphasized shock value and over-the-top pop spectacles. Ahead of the 2021 VMAs on Sept. 12, which will also stream on Paramount+, let’s revisit 10 of the show’s most outrageous moments, from meat dresses to onstage kisses.

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Known for her deeply honest lyricism, Fiona Apple memorably accepted her 1997 Best New Artist VMA with an anti-celebrity statement: “This world is bullsh*t. You shouldn’t model your life on what we think is cool, what we’re wearing, and what we’re saying... Go with yourself.”

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Jaws dropped across the country when Lil’ Kim showed up to the 1999 VMAs in a bright purple jumpsuit with one breast exposed. Diana Ross appeared equally as shocked, as she jiggled Kim’s pastie-covered breast onstage while presenting Best Hip-Hop Video alongside Mary J. Blige.

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R&B singer Macy Gray got creative with her red carpet look at the 2001 VMAs: a metallic dress that read, “MY NEW ALBUM DROPS SEPT. 18, 2001” on the front and “BUY IT!” on the back. However, the stunt proved lukewarm as The Id only reached a humble No. 11 on the Billboard charts.

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The 2003 VMAs is best remembered for Madonna, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera’s show-stopping performance of “Like A Virgin” and “Hollywood,” which featured the two young singers receiving torch-passing, then-controversial kisses from the Queen of Pop herself.

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The 2009 VMAs is memorable for various reasons, like when Kanye West took Taylor Swift’s mic as she accepted Best Female Video to praise Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” launching a years-long feud with Swift that they unsuccessfully tried to bury at the 2015 VMAs.

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At the end of the already-eventful 2009 VMAs, singer Lil Mama decided to crash Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ show-closing performance of “Empire State of Mind.” The duo was disappointed by the surprise guest, who claimed she simply wanted “to celebrate my two icons singing about NY.”

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Everyone was caught off-guard when Lady Gaga debuted her meat dress at the 2010 VMAs — except maybe Cher, who gladly held her meat purse while she accepted the Video of the Year award for “Bad Romance.” After the show, the dress was displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Foam finger in hand, Miley Cyrus shed her Disney image at the 2013 VMAs as she twerked, stuck her tongue out, and sang “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke. Easily the night's most-discussed set, it spawned a flurry of online chatter and some ill-advised memes.

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Cyrus hosted the 2015 VMAs shortly after publicly discussing Nicki Minaj’s reaction to “Anaconda” being snubbed from Video of the Year. “And now, back to this b*tch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press,” Minaj said onstage. “Miley, what’s good?”

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Beyoncé’s 16-minute 2014 VMAs performance was so mesmerizing, MTV asked her back for an extended Lemonade medley in 2016. Fans wanted to hunt Jay-Z down upon hearing the album, but seeing his wife smash a camera with a baseball bat during “Hold Up” solidified their vengeance.

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