Timeline of the MTV VMAs

The 2012 MTV VMA logo

Each year, MTV holds the highly popular Video Music Awards, better known as the VMAs. The infamous ‘moon trophy’ is given out in a number of different categories including ‘Video of the Year’, ‘Video With a Message’ and ‘Best Editing’. This year’s event celebrated the diverse range of genres currently popular amongst young audiences with performances from Frank Ocean, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Green Day, Pink, Alicia Keys and One Direction.

Whilst the 2012 award show ran through fairly drama-free, in the past it has been known to play host to some fairly controversial moments. This year’s host, Kevin Hart, used his opening monologue as an opportunity to warn the audience he is likely to make mistakes and to prepare themselves for the unexpected. After talking about some of the well-publicised mistakes of the year, including Kristen Stewart’s affair and Chris Brown and Drake’s New York bar brawl, Hart said:

“People here have made mistakes before, Kanye West, Lil’ Mama coming on stage when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were performing, Britney Spears and Madonna, when they kissed, Russell Brand hosting… twice. The point is guess what people tonight I will make tons of mistakes and I suggest you prep yourselves”

This timeline will run through some of the key dates and performances featured on the VMAs as well as some of the more controversial events to happen over the 28 years.

1984 – The first VMA ceremony is held at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

1988 – Michael Jackson appears at the award show for the first time with a pre-recorded performance of Bad.

Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin is assaulted by Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil.

1991 – A fistfight occurred backstage between Poison’s Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille due to ongoing conflict about DeVille’s cocaine addiction. On-stage DeVille began playing the wrong song and his guitar lead disconnected during the performance. He was fired as a result.

1992 – MTV requested that Nirvana play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘, despite the fact the band wanted to play their new song ‘Rape Me’, eventually MTV and the band settled on ‘Lithium’ as their performance. However, Kurt Cobain sang the first few lines of ‘Rape Me’ before playing ‘Lithium’. Furthermore, during the performance, bassist Krist Novoselic threw his bass as it stopped functioning, hitting him on the forehead.

During the 1992 awards show Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain challenged each other to a fight. Cobain spat on a piano on stage, believing it to be the one Axl Rose would be playing, only to find Elton John to come out and perform with Guns N’ Roses.

1994 – Newly married Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley walk out on stage to a standing ovation.

1995 – Hole perform in their first major televised performance since the death of Kurt Cobain and bassist Kristen Pfaff. Courtney love dedicated the song to them both as well as other friends who had died, including River Phoenix.

1996 – Van Halen make their first public appearance together since their break up in 1985.

1997 – Foo Fighter’s Pat Smear announced he was leaving the band and presented his replacement Franz Stahl. He would re-join the band as a touring musician in 2006.

2001 – Britney Spears’ performance of ‘I’m a Slave For You’ receives criticism from animal rights group PETA for it’s inclusion of a live Burmese Python and a tiger.

2002 – Eminem challenges Moby to a fight on-stage as he is booed whilst accepting an award.

2003 – Madonna performs ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Hollywood’ with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Madonna dressed as a groom and kissed her two ‘brides’ on-stage.

2007 – Britney Spears sings ‘Gimme More’ for the first time following her well-publicised personal problems. The performance is given negative reviews due to her miming and disheveled appearance.

Kid Rock and Tommy Lee start a physical fight whilst Alicia Keys is performing on-stage.

2008 – Russell Brand hosts the award show for the first time and shocks American audiences with his controversial jokes.

2009 – Kanye West runs on-stage whilst Taylor Swift is accepting an award for ‘Best Female Video’ and proclaims that Beyoncé should have won. When Beyoncé wins an award later on, she invites Swift to give her speech again. Swift would perform a song about the situation, ‘Innocent’, the following year.

2011 – Lady Gaga appears at the show dressed as her alter-ego Jo Calderone. She performs ‘You and I’ with Brian May.

Beyoncé announces her pregnancy on the red carpet and makes reference to it during her performance of ‘Love on Top’

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