MTV Video Music Award

MTV Video Music Award
MTV Video Music Awards
2011 MTV Video Music Awards
Awarded for Best in Music videos and pop culture
Presented by MTV
Country United States
First awarded September 14, 1984
Official website
Part of a series on

  in the United States  

MTV channels
MTV2 · Tr3́s · mtvU

MTV programs

MTV personalities

Censorship on MTV

MTV Networks

An MTV Video Music Award (commonly abbreviated as a VMA), is an award presented by the cable channel MTV to honor the best in music videos. Originally conceived as an alternative to the Grammy Awards[1] (in the video category), the annual MTV Video Music Awards ceremony has often been called the "Oscars for youth", an acknowledgment of the VMA ceremony's ability to draw millions of youth from teens to 20-somethings each year.[2] By 2001, the VMA had become a coveted award.[3] The statue given to winners is an astronaut on the moon, one of the earliest representations of MTV.

The annual VMA ceremony is usually held in mid-September, and broadcast live on MTV. The first VMA ceremony was held in 1984 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. Other VMAs have been held in Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas. The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards took place on August 28, 2011 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.



The VMAs have been a generational pop-cultural annual award show that gathers the most popular bands and artists each year. For years, the show was noteworthy for its live controversial moments (some cut for the re-runs); it quickly gained popularity because of them, rather than the awards given.

The show starts with a prestacy-show that can last from 1 to 2 hours. That is followed by the main show which lasts up to two-three hours, and then the post-show.

Notable moments


Radio City Music Hall, site of 13 VMAs, including the first.


1984: At the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, Madonna performed her iconic hit "Like A Virgin" wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, including her trademark "Boy Toy" belt. During the performance, she rolled around on the floor, revealing lacy stockings and garter.[4] Cyndi Lauper spoke in "Exorcist-esque gibberish" to explain the VMA rules right before winning the Best Female video for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".[5]

1986: Whitney Houston, who was one of the first female African American artists to receive heavy rotation on the network, performed "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All" at the 1986 Video Music Awards. The network had received criticism for not playing enough videos by black artists.

1988: At the 1988 Video Music Awards Michael Jackson did his first VMA performance with his song "Bad."[6] He was also awarded the Video Vanguard Award.[7]

1989: Controversial comic Andrew Dice Clay's appearance at the 1989 Video Music Awards to promote his new movie, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, earned him a "lifetime ban" from the network when he started performing some of his already-notorious nursery rhymes that contained vulgar language and references.[8] After performing with Tom Petty, Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin was assaulted by Mötley Crüe lead singer Vince Neil, leading to a verbal battle between Neil and Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose.[9]

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora turned out a stripped down acoustic performance of the Bon Jovi hits "Wanted Dead or Alive & "Livin' on a Prayer," and in the process possibly provided the inspirational spark for MTV Unplugged.[10][11]

Paula Abdul was nominated for six awards, picking up four wins, and turned out the most notable performance of the night. She commanded the VMA stage with a seven-minute medley of her #1 hits: "Straight Up", "Cold Hearted" and "Forever Your Girl".[10]

When Madonna won the Viewer's Choice Award for her "Like a Prayer" video, she thanked Pepsi-Cola in her acceptance speech "for causing so much controversy." Madonna had been paid $5 million by Pepsi-Cola to appear in a commercial that would predominantly feature the world premiere of "Like a Prayer". The commercial, titled "Make a Wish," depicted Madonna drinking Pepsi and watching a home video of her eighth birthday. The tone that the commercial sought to convey sharply contrasted with the music video. When Pepsi executives saw the video, they yanked the advertisement after only two airings in an attempt to dissociate themselves from Madonna. Ironically, the Viewer's Choice Award was sponsored by Pepsi-Cola.[12] She also gave one of the most memorable performances of her hit "Express Yourself", as a preview of what would become her Blond Ambition World Tour.[10]



1990: At the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna gave a memorable performance of her hit "Vogue," which featured Madonna and her dancers dressed in an 18th-century French theme, with Madonna bearing great resemblance to Marie Antoinette. The performance consisted of both a dramatic 18th-century reinterpretation of "Vogue" as well as her dramatically becorseted breasts.[13]

1991: A conflict between Poison's Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille culminated in a fistfight at the Video Music Awards in 1991. DeVille was fired and replaced by Pennsylvanian guitarist Richie Kotzen.[14] Paul Reubens had his first public appearance following an arrest for lewd-conduct earlier that year. Taking the stage in costume as Pee Wee Herman, he received a standing ovation, after which he asked the audience, "Heard any good jokes lately?"[15]

It also marked the last TV appearance of Kiss with Eric Carr, before Carr's death that November.

1992: In the 1992 show, MTV requested Nirvana perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit", while the band itself had indicated it preferred to play new songs "Rape Me" and "tourette's". Network executives continued to push for "Teen Spirit" but finally offered the band a choice to play either "Teen Spirit" or "Lithium", which the band appeared to accept. At the performance, Nirvana began to play, and Kurt Cobain sang the first few lines of the song, "Rape Me", much to the horror of MTV execs, before continuing their regular performance of "Lithium". Near the end of the song, frustrated that his amp had stopped functioning, bassist Krist Novoselic decided to toss his bass into the air for dramatic effect. He misjudged the landing, and the bass ended up bouncing off of his forehead, forcing him to stumble off the stage in a daze.[1]

Backstage, before the show, Guns N' Roses vocalist Axl Rose challenged Cobain to a fight after he, his wife and Hole frontwoman, Courtney Love, and Nirvana bandmates Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, egged him on. At the end of Nirvana's performance, while Cobain was trashing the band's equipment, Dave Grohl ran to the microphone and shouted "Hi, Axl! Where's Axl?" repeatedly. Guns N' Roses' video for the ballad "November Rain" won the MTV Video Music Award for best cinematography. During the show, the band performed "November Rain" with singer Elton John. Because of the dispute Rose had with Cobain, moments before the "November Rain" performance, Cobain spat on the keys of what he thought was Axl's piano. Cobain later revealed that he was shocked to see Elton John play on the piano he had spat on.[6] During the commercial break, the Alien 3 Pepsi commercial was shown.

Radio shock-jock Howard Stern appeared as Fartman, Stern's radio super-hero. Stern was a presenter for best hard rock/metal performance with actor Luke Perry (after several other celebrities turned him down).

Madonna has won 20 VMAs, the most for any artist. All were won in the 1980s and 1990s.[16]

1993: At the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna opened the show in a gender-bending performance of her song "Bye Bye Baby," in which Madonna and her two back up singers, dressed in tuxedos and top hats, danced with women in corsets in a choreographed, highly sexual routine.[17]

RuPaul and Milton Berle, who had had conflicts backstage, presented an award together. When Berle inappropriately touched RuPaul's breasts, RuPaul ad-libbed the line "So you used to wear gowns, but now you're wearing diapers."[17]

Rapper Snoop Dogg presented the Best R&B Video award with Dr. Dre and George Clinton.

1994: At the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards on September 8, shortly after a profanity-laced appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Madonna was announced to present the award for Best Group Video. She came out, arm-in-arm with an unannounced David Letterman, to a wild ovation. At the microphone, Letterman told her, "I'll be out by the car. Watch your language," and left.[18]

Recently betrothed couple Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley received a standing ovation as they walked on stage hand-in-hand. After turning to the audience and proclaiming, "And just think, nobody thought this would last," Jackson grabbed Presley and kissed her.[19] Near the end of the awards, Michael Jackson played "Thriller" in honor of Kurt Cobain, who had died recently before the awards. Jackson stated later that "Thriller" was Kurt's favorite song by him and his death deserves his favorite song to be played.[20]


1995: At the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, Courtney Love's band Hole perform the song "Violet" from their major-label debut album Live Through This. This was one of the first major televised performances given by Love following the death of her husband Kurt Cobain and the death of her band's bassist Kristen Pfaff in 1994. Before beginning the song, Courtney announced, "This is for Kurt, and Kristen, and River, and Joe, and today Joni Abbott, this is for you." The song ended with Love throwing her guitar, knocking the microphone stand into the crowd and pushing over speaker-boxes with bandmate Eric Erlandson before exiting the stage.[21] Love also caused a stir when she interrupted a post-ceremony interview with Kurt Loder and Madonna by throwing her make-up compacts at the singer as they broadcast outside the awards venue.[22]

Michael Jackson performed a medley of his main songs, some new songs including "Scream.", and danced the "Bankhead Bounce". Slash played guitar on "Black or White."[23]

TLC was the biggest winner of the night winning four awards, including "Viewer's Choice", "Best Group Video", and "Video of the Year".

1996: On September 4, at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, the four original members of Van Halen received 20-second standing ovation when they made their first public appearance together since their break-up in April 1985. Backstage, after presenting an award to Beck, the reunion soured bitterly, and reportedly, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen nearly came to blows.[1]

Several weeks later, the public learned that Van Halen would not reunite with Roth. Roth released a statement apologizing to fans, stating that he was an unwitting participant in a publicity stunt to sell more copies of the greatest hits album, Best Of Vol. 1, and that he had been led to believe that he was rejoining Van Halen. The following day, Eddie and Alex Van Halen released a statement, stating that they had been honest with Roth, and never lead him to believe that he had been re-hired.[1]

Oasis performed 'Champagne Supernova', with lead vocalist Liam Gallagher making rude gestures at brother Noel as he was playing his guitar solo, then spitting beer all over the stage before storming off.[24]

Alanis Morissette performed "Your House", a hidden track from her bestseller album "Jagged Little Pill". The performance had nothing to do with her 1995 one. The beginning and the ending of the song were sung a cappella, while the rest was played with only one guitar on stage. At the end Morissette was close to tears.[citation needed]

The recently reunited Kiss closed the show with a special concert aired from the Brooklyn Bridge.[25]

1997: In 1997, Pat Smear announced that he was leaving Foo Fighters half way through their performance and presented his replacement, Franz Stahl, who had been a member of the band Scream with Dave Grohl.[26]

Puff Daddy released his debut album No Way Out, featuring the successful tribute single "I'll Be Missing You", dedicated to the recently murdered Notorious B.I.G. The song featured Puff Daddy, Biggie's widow Faith Evans and R&B group 112. The song sampled the melody of The Police's hit song "Every Breath You Take." All these artists performed the song with former Police vocalist Sting.[27]

The odd pairing of presenters Martha Stewart and Busta Rhymes that year drew much talk in the press.[27] They presented the best dance video award to the Spice Girls for their music video "Wannabe," who wore a black strap on their left arms as a sign of grief because of Princess Diana's death prior to the event.

While accepting the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist Video that year for "Sleep To Dream", Fiona Apple appealed to her audience not to be enamored of celebrity culture. She proclaimed, "this world is bullshit" and quoted Maya Angelou, saying "go with yourself." Though her comments were generally greeted with cheers and applause at the awards ceremony, the media backlash was huge. Some considered her remarks to be hypocritical, seeing a contradiction between her appearance in a risqué music video in only her underwear and her telling young women to ignore celebrity culture. However she was unapologetic: "When I have something to say, I'll say it."[27][28][29]

Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson performed the song "The Beautiful People", as the grand finale, and the video for this song was nominated for "Best Rock Video" and "Best Special Effects", marking one of the most significant performances for the band.[30]

1998: At the 1998 VMA's, Brandy and Monica performed "The Boy Is Mine" together live for the first time, putting an end to the media speculation that the two were rivals.[31]

During the original broadcast of the show, a commercial faded in the Nine Inch Nails NIN logo on a black screen while playing a combination of music that started as a solo piano piece and morphed into an electronic/industrial beat (which would later found out to be the songs "La Mer" and "Into the Void," which share many melodic components and can be considered variations on a theme) and ended with Trent Reznor screaming "Tried to save myself, but myself kept slipping away" and the word "ninetynine" in the trademark NIN reversed-N font. This was only shown once during the original broadcast, was edited out of all repeats, and generally seen as a sign that the long-awaited follow-up to The Downward Spiral would be released early in 1999. Work was continued on the album through the first half of 1999, and Nine Inch Nails performed the title track "The Fragile" off the double-CD at 1999 MTV Video Music Awards almost one year to the day of the "ninetynine" commercial. It can be found as an Easter Egg or on the "Beneath The Surface" menu on the live NIN DVD And All That Could Have Been.[citation needed]

Geri Halliwell attended the event, one of her first public appearances since she left the Spice Girls in May. She presented the video of the year award to Madonna for "Ray of Light."[citation needed]

Actress Rose McGowan, who had arrived with then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson, was wearing a see-through dress, no bra, and a thong,[32] while Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston poked fun at their rumored rift by wearing look-a-like chocolate brown dresses by Vera Wang. In an attempt to outdo each other, the singers tore off pieces of their dresses to reveal minidresses then staged a faux catfight that left the audience in disbelief. "People thought Whitney and I had some kind of beef," explained Carey.[33]

1999: Lil' Kim showed up at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards with an entire breast exposed and only a tiny piece of fabric over the nipple. Kim's outfit became even more controversial later when she appeared on stage with Mary J. Blige and Diana Ross to present the Best Hip-Hop Video award, and Ross reached over, cupped her hand under Kim's exposed breast and jiggled it while Kim laughed.[34]

During the following acceptance speech by the Beastie Boys, group member Ad-Rock addressed the instances of rape and sexual assault that occurred in the crowd at the recent Woodstock 1999 concert event. He pleaded to other musicians in the room to make a change in the way they treat fans at concerts; to pledge to talk with promoters and security to ensure "the safety of all the girls and the women who come to our shows."[35]

Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace, the mothers of the recently slain Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., met for the first time at the ceremony.[36]

TLC won Best Group Video for "No Scrubs" beating the favorite boy bands of that time Backstreet Boys and 'N SYNC. The female group received a standing ovation from the audience and artists.

When The Backstreet Boys came up to receive there award for winning Viewers Choice for "I Want It That Way". A stranger came up and stated "Wake up at 3".

Before presenting the final award, a group of drag queens paid tribute to Madonna wearing her most iconic outfits with a medley of her hit songs. Madonna herself then appeared onstage and remarked, "All I have to say is that it takes a real man to fill my shoes." She then introduced McCartney, who presented the Video of the Year to "some guy named Laurence Hill" (Lauryn Hill).



2000: At the 2000 Video Music Awards, D'Angelo and Jennifer Lopez presented the award for Best Rock Video to Limp Bizkit. As Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst spoke, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford climbed onto the scaffolding of the set. Durst egged Commerford on, saying "Stage dive, dude" and "Take a dive," finally ending his speech with "and [Commerford]'s a pussy 'cause he won't jump." Commerford and his bodyguard were sentenced to a night in jail. RATM vocalist Zack de la Rocha reportedly left the awards after Commerford's stunt. RATM guitarist Tom Morello recalled that Commerford related his plan to the rest of the band before the show, and that both de la Rocha and Morello advised him against it immediately after Bizkit was presented the award.[37][38]

Eminem performed his two singles "The Real Slim Shady" and "The Way I Am", the performance began with Eminem's single "The Real Slim Shady" which started outside the Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue, Manhattan. Eminem continued his performance into the arena and was followed by multiple Eminem 'clones' wearing white tank tops and baggy jeans with dyed bleach blonde hair.[39]

Britney Spears dancing with the snake at the 2001 VMAs. Spears was a staple at the VMAs during the 2000s.[40]

Britney Spears performed "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and her hit "Oops!... I Did It Again" which became one of the VMA's most iconic and controversial performances mostly due to Spears' skin-colored performance attire.[41]

At the end of Christina Aguilera's performance, Durst walked onstage and performed part of his band's song "Livin' It Up" with Aguilera. After eliciting charged reactions from his fans, Durst stated: "I already told you guys before, I did it all for the nookie, man."[42] The feud died weeks later. Aguilera denied Durst's statement, saying Durst "got no nookie."[43]

Aguilera and Spears disproved rumors of a rivalry when they came onstage, holding hands, and introduced Whitney Houston. Houston, who had been targeted by the media for erratic behavior, canceled appearances, drug use rumors and being busted for carrying marijuana at a Hawaii airport just a few months prior, came out to a standing ovation and introduced an award to Eminem with husband Bobby Brown, who was recently released from jail. Houston showed more erratic behavior, jumping up and down saying "free" in reference to Brown's recent jail release.[citation needed]

2001: At the 2001 Video Music Awards, Britney Spears gave another memorable performance when she took the stage to sing her new single, "I'm a Slave 4 U." Along with dancing in a very revealing outfit, the performance is probably most remembered for featuring the singer in a cage with a tiger and briefly dancing with a live albino Burmese Python on her shoulders. The inclusion of a tiger and a snake in the performance bought a great deal of criticism from PETA.[41][44]

U2 had been set to perform a medley including "Elevation", "Beautiful Day" and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of." The riser they were performing on lost power and MTV had to cut to several minutes of promos while everything was setup again. They lost power again and finally the band was lowered to the ground and performed without the riser. Lead singer Bono made reference after the performance that MTV "forgot to pay the electricity bill."[45]

Eight time VMA winner Michael Jackson in 2003

Michael Jackson made a surprise appearance at the end of 'N Sync's performance of "Pop" and, surrounded by members of the group, performed some of his trademark dance moves to Justin Timberlake's beatboxing.[45]

The show paid tribute to the R&B singer/Actress Aaliyah, who was supposed to present an award but died the weekend before from a small plane crash. U2 paid tribute to Punk-Rock singer Joey Ramone, who died of lymphoma 4 months before.[46][47]

2002: In 2002, the VMAs took place on Michael Jackson's birthday, and as a tribute, Britney Spears introduced him saying she "considered him the artist of the millennium." Jackson said, "When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana if someone told me I'd be getting 'the artist of the millennium award,' I'd have never believed it."[48] A year later, at the 2003 VMAs, this was parodied by presenters Fred Durst and Jack Black, with Durst stating that Black was the "funniest man alive." [41][49] This year was special beacause it was the first time that a Latino artist performed, Shakira sang her single "Objection" live, becoming the first Latin artist in this awards.

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog appeared and had a confrontation with Eminem. Eminem had a confrontation with Moby, who had called the rapper's music misogynistic and homophobic. By that time, there were various boos from the crowd. The Best Male Video award was given to Eminem right after the confrontation with Triumph and Moby, and when Eminem went to stage to pick up the award, in the middle of his speech, he challenged Moby to fight if he continued to boo him.[50]

Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, the surviving members of the top-selling R&B trio TLC, made their first television appearance since the death of bandmate Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.[50]

Christina Aguilera shocked the audience by wearing a revealing outfit and heavy make-up, with a sexual image contrasting her previous good-girl persona.[51] She was part of an awkward moment at the awards when presenting the Best Male Video Award to Eminem, who had insulted her in 2000.[52]

Avril Lavigne won her first award ever as Best New Artist in a Video, getting the record for the youngest artist so far to win this award at the age of 17. She kicked off the 2002 VMAs with a "Complicated / "Sk8er Boi" pre-show performance and together Lisa Marie Presley they gave the award for Best Female Video to P!nk who was under the effects of alcohol during her acceptance speech.[50]

Axl Rose unveiled the new lineup of Guns N' Roses. The band's set was the show's finale, and although the performance was meant to be kept a secret, some New York radio outlets announced the performance earlier in the day. The band played a set consisting of "Welcome to the Jungle", "Madagascar", and "Paradise City".[53]

2003: At the 2003 Video Music Awards, Madonna portrayed a groom kissing her brides, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, on stage. The gender role-reversal and lesbian theme instantly made front page headlines. The three singers performed a medley of her early hit, "Like a Virgin", and her then latest release, "Hollywood", with a guest rap by Missy Elliott. The design resembled Madonna's performance of "Like a Virgin" at the 1984 VMA: the same wedding cake set, wedding dresses and "Boy Toy" belt worn by Madonna in 1984 now adorned Aguilera and Spears.[54]

Beyoncé made a memorable entrance, descending upside down from the rafters at Radio City Music Hall. Knowles performed "Baby Boy" as she was gently lowered to the stage, dressed in harem pants. She was later joined by Jay-Z as they performed their duet "Crazy in Love." The performance marked Knowles's solo debut.[55]

2004: The 2004 MTV Video Music Awards were held at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. This was the first time the awards show was held outside of New York City and Los Angeles. It was the first video music awards to not have a host.[56]


2005: At the 2005 show, Green Day returned, taking home the Best Rock Video, Best Group Video, and Video of the Year Moonmen for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," which they performed during the broadcast.They also took the Viewer's Choice award for "American Idiot."

Also at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, while introducing the Reggaeton spot, Fat Joe made a disparaging comment about G-Unit: "I'd like to tell the people home I feel so safe tonight with all this police protection courtesy of G-Unit..." Later in the show, after G-Unit's performance, 50 Cent directed profanities at Fat Joe which were edited out before the shows airing although some broadcasts played the uncensored version of the show.[57] R.Kelly performed his rap opera, "Trapped in the Closet."[58]

Actress Eva Longoria caused a stir when she appeared barely dressed to introduce Mariah Carey.[59]

Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg won best dressed female and male and received prizes to donate to a charity of their choice.[60]

The 2005 VMAs were the first to have a performance in Spanish, when Shakira, performed her single "la Tortura" ft Alejandro Sanz. Till the moment she has been the only Latin artist to sing a song in Spanish in this awards. It was also the first time that Spanish videos were nominated at the awards.[58]

Kelly Clarkson performed a high energy version of her song "Since U Been Gone" barefoot wearing a torn up halter top and Capri pants. Clarkson moved through the crowd during the performance, which culminated in the singer getting sprayed with water. By the end of the song, she and a portion of the audience were soaking wet.[61]

Beavis and Butt-head appeared in several Viewer's Choice award skits, saying to "Vote to put Beavis and Butt-head back on MTV!".[62] In a twist of irony, six years later the TV show returned to MTV.

2006: During the 2006 Video Music Awards, after Jennifer Lopez announced the Video of the Year (Panic! at the Disco for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"), a man jumped from the audience, took the microphone, and identified himself as "Sixx".[58] Shakira performed "Hips Don´t Lie" ft Wyclef Jean. There were also performances of Justin Timberlake. It was hosted by Jack Black.

2007: The 2007 Video Music Awards is best known for Britney Spears's performance of her comeback single "Gimme More". Spears failed to live up to the pre-show hype about her appearance. She appeared to be intoxicated, with poor lip-syncing and dancing, and showing off an out-of-shape physique after reportedly tossing aside her costume, appearing wearing only a black, sparkly bra and panty set.[63][64] The performance was dubbed "career crippling".[34]

Kid Rock and Tommy Lee were involved in an altercation during Alicia Keys's performance. Lee was sitting with magician Criss Angel when the two went to visit Diddy, who was sitting close to Kid Rock. Kid Rock allegedly punched Tommy Lee in the face. The two were broken up, and both were escorted from the resort. Angel was removed a short time later.[65]

2008: The 2008 Video Music Awards were opened by Britney Spears which welcomed everybody to the 25-year anniversary of the Video Music Awards. Rihanna opened the show with her then number one hit song "Disturbia" in a black leather outfit . After 16 nominations, Britney Spears finally won her first VMA, taking Best Female Video, Best Pop Video, and Video of the Year for "Piece of Me"marking the beginning of Spears' comeback.[66]

Host Russell Brand commented on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, begging the audience to vote for him. Brand called President George W. Bush a "retarded cowboy" and claimed Bush "wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors in Britain."[67]

Russell Brand also made comments on the Jonas Brothers for wearing purity rings. Brand later faced criticism for his swipes at the trio. He confirmed his apology at the MTV Video Music Awards 2009 by saying "I upset the Jonas Brothers last year, I had to say sorry to them and they forgave me. They had to, they're Christians." During her introduction of T.I. and Rihanna's performance, Jordin Sparks, who also wears a purity ring, defended the Jonas Brothers by saying "It's not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut." Sparks was in turn criticized for implying that those who do not wear purity rings or do not abstain are promiscuous.[68]

After performing her song "Keeps Gettin' Better" at the awards with a futuristic look and sound, Christina Aguilera was accused by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton of copying the style of then-debuting singer Lady Gaga.[69] Although Lady Gaga has after commented she did not consider Aguilera copied her, and Aguilera admitted she did not know who Gaga was. The two singers have often been compared and placed by the media as rivals ever since.[70]

West taking the microphone from Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

2009: At the 2009 Video Music Awards, country singer Taylor Swift won Best Female video for "You Belong with Me." During her acceptance speech, rapper Kanye West unexpectedly showed up on stage. Taking the microphone from Swift, he announced "Yo Tay, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!"[71][72] MTV cut away from the stage (showing Beyonce with an embarrassed look) after West gave the microphone back to Swift and giving the middle finger to the audience as they started booing him off stage, and so Swift did not finish her speech. West was removed for the rest of the show. However when Beyoncé won Video of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," she called Swift to the stage to "have her moment." In an off-the-record portion of an interview the following day, President Barack Obama called West a "jackass" for his antics.[73] During a post-interview, Jay-Z admitted West was wrong to go on stage, but he thought people were overreacting to the incident.[74]

Beyoncé performed her song "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" in 6 inch heels. Onstage, she performed her well-known choreography for Single Ladies with over two dozen female dancers dancing with her.[75]

Lady Gaga later performed her song "Paparazzi" and shocked the audience when she appeared to bleed out on stage. It was actually a contraption in her outfit.[76]

Madonna opened the show talking about her experiences with Michael Jackson. After her speech, a Michael Jackson tribute commenced, including Janet Jackson performing the duet "Scream". The show closed with a sneak preview of Michael Jackson's "This Is It" movie.[77]

Rapper Lil' Mama jumped on stage as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performed "Empire State of Mind."[78] Lil' Mama later apologized.[79] During an interview with New York Radio DJ Angie Martinez, Jay-Z said that he thought the unrehearsed move was something similar to the West and Swift incident.[79] Lady Gaga and Beyoncé each received 9 nominations winning three each, with Beyoncé bringing home its highest honor, the Video of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)".[75] Green Day also won three awards for their song "21 Guns".[75]



2010: At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Lady Gaga broke the record for most nominations in a single show with 13, and took home eight awards (seven for "Bad Romance" and one for "Telephone"). She accepted the Video of the Year award for "Bad Romance" wearing a controversial dress made from cuts of meat. During her speech she revealed her upcoming album's title, Born This Way and sang a portion of the title track. Her win tied a-ha's "Take on Me" in 1986 for the second highest number of wins. (Peter Gabriel previously won 10 in 1987).[80] Justin Bieber won Best New Artist, making him the youngest person to ever win a VMA.[81]

A year after an incident in which Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, Taylor Swift performed her song "Innocent", talking nicely about him, while West performed "Runaway" which pointed at himself for that same incident.[82][83] Eminem, who performed at the show, did not receive his awards in person, due to leaving immediately to go perform with Jay-Z at The Home & Home Tour in New York City the next day.[citation needed] Additionally,'s "blackface" outfit sparked controversy among African-Americans.[84] Overall, the show grabbed an impressive 11.4 million viewers — the largest audience for an MTV Video Music Awards since 2002.[85]

2011: The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards returned to the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California. MTV president Steven Friedman said in a statement, "We are thrilled to return to Los Angeles where the energy of the city will help power the creative spirit of the 28th annual VMAs. The city is the perfect backdrop for all the musical moments, mayhem and magic that make the VMAs such a notorious celebration." On August 11, 2011, it was stated in a promo that there would be a tribute to Britney Spears during the ceremony.

The show was opened by Lady Gaga dressed as her alter ego, Jo Calderone, performing "You and I" with Queen guitarist, Brian May. Her costume and mannerisms mimicked the late comedian, Lenny Bruce. During her performance she slipped on spilled beer but quickly recovered and finished the performance.

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Lady Gaga as "Jo Calderone" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards

The tribute to Britney Spears contained performances by young talents, who danced to various hit singles by Spears including "...Baby One More Time" and the recent hit "Till the World Ends". After the tribute, Lady Gaga went on stage to present Britney the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.[86] While accepting her award she and Gaga teased a kiss. Britney rejected the exchange saying, "I've done that already," referring to her infamous liplock with Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

Chris Brown gave a performance which included him dancing to "Yeah 3X", "Protect Ya Neck", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and "Beautiful People". While performing "Beautiful People" he started to fly across the stage and into the audience.

During Kanye West's and Jay-Z's surprise performance of "Otis", a man ran on to the stage but was quickly taken off by security.

Prior to her performance, Beyoncé announced on the red carpet that she and husband Jay-Z were expecting a baby. Straight after Beyoncé finished performing her song "Love on Top", she also revealed again that she is pregnant by showing off her baby bump and rubbing it.

Adele gave a heartbreaking performance of her current single Someone Like You (Adele song) which earned her a standing ovation.

A tribute to late singer Amy Winehouse also took place; Russell Brand delivered a monologue on his thoughts on her, and after that, Tony Bennett previewed his collaboration with her for his album Duets II. Afterwards, Bruno Mars performed "Valerie" in honor of her, which received a standing ovation.

The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards was the highest rated MTV Video Music Award show in history and MTV's highest rated broadcast of all time, drawing in a record-breaking 12.4 million viewers.[87]

Host cities

Year Date Venue Host City Host[88] Video of the Year Winner Reference
1984 September 14, 1984 Radio City Music Hall New York City Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler "You Might Think" performed by The Cars [89]
1985 September 13, 1985 Eddie Murphy "The Boys of Summer" performed by Don Henley [90]
1986 September 5, 1986 The Palladium,
Gibson Amphitheatre
New York City,
Los Angeles
MTV VJs: "Downtown" Julie Brown,
Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter,
Martha Quinn & Dweezil Zappa
"Money for Nothing" performed by Dire Straits [91]
1987 September 11, 1987 Gibson Amphitheatre Los Angeles MTV VJs: "Downtown" Julie Brown,
Carolyne Heldman,
Dweezil Zappa & Kevin Seal
"Sledgehammer" performed by Peter Gabriel [92]
1988 September 7, 1988 Arsenio Hall "Need You Tonight/Mediate" performed by INXS [93]
1989 September 6, 1989 "This Note's for You" performed by Neil Young [10]
1990 September 6, 1990 "Nothing Compares 2 U" performed by Sinéad O'Connor [94]
1991 September 5, 1991 "Losing My Religion" performed by R.E.M. [14]
1992 September 9, 1992 UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Dana Carvey "Right Now" performed by Van Halen [95]
1993 September 2, 1993 Gibson Amphitheatre Christian Slater "Jeremy" performed by Pearl Jam [17]
1994 September 8, 1994 Radio City Music Hall New York City Roseanne Barr "Cryin'" performed by Aerosmith [19]
1995 September 7, 1995 Dennis Miller "Waterfalls" performed by TLC [23]
1996 September 4, 1996 "Tonight, Tonight" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins [24]
1997 September 4, 1997 Chris Rock "Virtual Insanity" performed by Jamiroquai [27]
1998 September 10, 1998 Gibson Amphitheatre Los Angeles Ben Stiller "Ray of Light" performed by Madonna [96]
1999 September 9, 1999 Metropolitan Opera House New York City Chris Rock "Doo Wop (That Thing)" performed by Lauryn Hill [36]
2000 September 7, 2000 Radio City Music Hall Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans "The Real Slim Shady" performed by Eminem [97]
2001 September 6, 2001 Metropolitan Opera House Jamie Foxx "Lady Marmalade" performed by Christina Aguilera,
Lil' Kim, Mýa and Pink
2002 August 29, 2002 Radio City Music Hall Jimmy Fallon "Without Me" performed by Eminem [51]
2003 August 28, 2003 Chris Rock "Work It" performed by Missy Elliott [98]
2004 August 29, 2004 AmericanAirlines Arena Miami No host "Hey Ya!" performed by OutKast [99]
2005 August 28, 2005 Sean "Diddy" Combs "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" performed by Green Day [58]
2006 August 31, 2006 Radio City Music Hall New York City Jack Black "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" performed by Panic! At The Disco [100]
2007 September 9, 2007 The Palms Hotel and Casino Las Vegas No host "Umbrella" performed by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z [101]
2008 September 7, 2008 Paramount Studios Los Angeles Russell Brand "Piece of Me" performed by Britney Spears [102]
2009 September 13, 2009 Radio City Music Hall New York City "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" performed by Beyoncé [75]
2010 September 12, 2010 Nokia Theatre Los Angeles Chelsea Handler "Bad Romance" performed by Lady Gaga [75]
2011 August 28, 2011 No Host "Firework" performed by Katy Perry [103]
2012 September 15, 2012 TBA TBA [75]


Ratings are not available prior to 1994 because MTV was not subscribing to Nielsen Media Research’s program ratings prior to 1994.[104]

Year Day[104] Time Date Rating[104] Share[104] Viewers[104]
(in millions)
1994 Thursday 8:00–11:25pm September 8, 1994 4.1 N/A 5.359
1995 Thursday 8:00–11:00pm September 7, 1995 3.7 7 6.331
1996 Wednesday 8:00–11:00pm September 4, 1996 3.6 6 5.066
1997 Thursday 8:00–11:00pm September 4, 1997 5.2 9 7.471
1998 Thursday 8:00–11:13pm September 10, 1998 5.8 10 8.936
1999 Thursday 8:00–11:13pm September 9, 1999 8.0 14 11.940
2000 Thursday 8:00–11:09pm September 7, 2000 6.5 11 9.853
2001 Thursday 8:00–11:26pm September 6, 2001 6.6 11 10.757
2002 Thursday 8:00–11:17pm August 29, 2002 6.6 11 11.948
2003 Thursday 8:00–11:03pm August 28, 2003 6.4 11 10.712
2004 Sunday 8:00–11:11pm August 29, 2004 6.3 11 10.316
2005 Sunday 8:00–11:23pm August 28, 2005 5.0 8 8.005
2006 Thursday 8:00–11:28pm August 31, 2006 3.6 6 5.766
2007 Sunday 9:00–11:12pm September 9, 2007 4.0 7 7.082
2008 Sunday 9:00–11:20pm September 7, 2008 5.0[105] 8 8.425[105][a]
2009 Sunday 9:00–11:21pm September 13, 2009 7.5 8 8.970[106][b]
2010 Sunday 9:00–11:15pm September 12, 2010 6.2[107] 10[107] 11.4[107][108][c]
2011 Sunday 9:00–11:27pm August 28, 2011 10.8[109] TBA 12.4[109]

Award categories

Current award categories

Past award categories

Most wins

Most wins in a single night

Artist Year Number of awards Music video
Peter Gabriel 1987 10 "Sledgehammer" (9); Video Vanguard Award (for Gabriel)
a-ha 1986 8 "Take on Me" (6); "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." (2)
Lady Gaga 2010 "Bad Romance" (7); "Telephone" (1)
The Smashing Pumpkins 1996 7 "Tonight, Tonight" (6); "1979" (1)
Green Day 2005 "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (6); "American Idiot" (1)
R.E.M. 1991 6 "Losing My Religion" (6)
Madonna 1998 "Ray of Light" (5); "Frozen" (1)
Fatboy Slim 2001 "Weapon of Choice" (6)
Herbie Hancock 1984 5 "Rockit" (5)
INXS 1988 "Need You Tonight/Mediate" (5)
Beck 1997 "The New Pollution" (3); "Devils Haircut (2)

Most wins overall

Artist Number of awards[16]
Madonna 20
Peter Gabriel 13
Lady Gaga
R.E.M. 12
Green Day 11
Fatboy Slim 9
Janet Jackson
a-ha 8
Michael Jackson
En Vogue 7
'N Sync
Justin Timberlake
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Smashing Pumpkins
Beck 6
Britney Spears
Missy Elliott 5
Gnarls Barkley
Herbie Hancock
Don Henley
Ricky Martin
No Doubt


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