I may have mentioned once or twice, but I am a sucker for award shows. I don’t discriminate, either- we’re talking everything from the Oscars all the way down to the Teen Choice Awards (which I’m not at all embarrassed to admit I’m bummed I missed this year). Except the CMT’s, because country music makes me want to go Britney-ballistic and shave off all my hair.
So once again I am excited for the MTV Video Music Awards tonight, even though it seems that the days of this show being entertaining are long behind us. I know I’ve watched the past few years, and I can’t recall any specific shows that I was wowed by in any terms other than providing me house of live Facebook status fodder. Even more recent shows featuring hosts that I was excited about (Chelsea Handler, Kevin Hart, etc.) have fallen flat in comparison with VMA’s of years gone by (I mean, I never thought I’d actually miss a Wayans brother in anything).
But thanks to my BFF, the Internet, I took a stroll down VMA memory lane and compiled a list of some of my most favorite and also most cringeworthy moments of the past ten years or so (and yes, I know that there were many years of history-making moments before then, but I regret that I wasn’t even alive the year that Madonna writhed around on the floor in a wedding dress… well at least, not the first time).
Worst: Britney Spears squeezing herself into ill-fitting lingerie mid-psychotic breakdown
I mean, I don’t know if I can talk about this. For those of us still suffering from PTBSD (post traumatic Britney stress disorder), a rare illness that afflicted all who watched the 2007 VMA opening performance, it’s hard to be reminded of such a tragedy. For some reason, this performance was supposed to be a “comeback,” and marked the first (and last) time that she performed a track from her “Blackout” album. From the blue contacts to her stringy hair extensions, everything about this “performance” was a mess. I dealt the best way I knew how: by writing a very special installment of my celebrity gossip column for the college newspaper urging her to take some time off and get some help for whatever was obviously plaguing her. Others used a various number of coping mechanisms to deal with their feelings. But deep down, we all wanted the best for her, and this act showed us all that it was far worse than any of us really knew.
Best: Britney Spears stripping down to a nude bodysuit
2000 was the year I remember being really excited to watch this show. I was 15, and this was like the height of the TRL era of MTV when Brit Brit reigned supreme. I remember thinking when she came out in an all black suit with he hair tucked up into a fedora that something was about to go down. When she ripped of her ensemble while performing a medley of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and “Oops I Did It Again” and revealed a nude, crystal-encrusted bikini top and pants, teenage girls everywhere immediately developed a body image disorder and tried to figure out where you could still purchase a crimping iron. This was the height of Britney hotness, and to this day if I’m ever asked what kind of girl I would be interested in if I was a lesbian, I always say, “Britney Spears VMA’S 2000.” And they understand.
Worst: Lil’ Kim gets felt up by Diana Ross
This was just such a weird moment for everyone. I can’t explain it. I mean, you have eyes. You can see. It’s just… ahhhhh.
Best: Madonna is not a drag, just a queen
My favorite celebrities are the ones who can make fun of themselves and are in on the joke. Obviously, Madonna has made a career of reinventing herself and while it was appreciated by most, she was kind of the butt of the joke for years from comedians and late night hosts for always moving onto a new persona. At the 1999 VMA’s, viewers were treated to a parade of Madge’s most iconic looks from her career, which did seem a little crazy once you saw them all standing next to each other. Also, they were men. The fashion show was complete when the Queen herself entered the stage as well, herself. Clad in a simple, all-black ensemble herself, she stared each queen up and down before declaring, “It takes a real man to fill my shoes.” Now that’s a true diva.
Worst: Christina comes back… as a poor man’s Gaga
In 2008, it had been a few years since Christina had released any new material, and after ten years in the business, she decided to release a greatest hits album. The title track for the album of the same name, “Keeps Gettin Better” was supposed to be her “comeback” (because if you haven’t released music in two years, you basically no longer exist), but I just found it to be really confusing. After being “Dirrty” and then going “Back to Basics,” her latest persona was… a superhero? And also, a “superbitch.” But to me, the only personality I saw her as was… Lady Gaga! It was so totally obvious that she was ripping off her clothing, makeup, style- and not well (we’re talking pre-meat dress days of Gaga). The worst part was when she was asked about it, Christina was so quick to pretend that she “hadn’t even heard of Lady Gaga,” which was strange, because “Just Dance” was just everywhere at that time. Maybe she was finally being herself- a superbitch.
Best: Lady Gaga suffers for the sake of “Paparazzi”
Does anyone remember old Gaga? Like when she was just a little crazy but her music was so awesome that you were like, “yes, I get it- she’s an artist!” Her performance of “Paparazzi” was the first time I remembered being like, totally wowed by her. There was a set, a storyline, and even though in the end it was a little creepy that she ended up dripping blood and hanging from the ceiling, it was still totally awesome.
Worst: Kanye West crushes Taylor Swift’s dreams in front of the entire world
If you don’t know why this is awful, well then I guess you are the type of person who should probably be friends with Kanye West.
Best: Queen Bey saves the day!
After having the microphone literally ripped out of her hands, Taylor Swift clearly didn’t get to enjoy her moment of VMA glory. But the ever professional Beyonce did the best she could with an awkward situation that she was dragged into by letting T Swift finish her speech when “Single Ladies” took home the prize for Video of the Year. She reminded us that she was the same age as Taylor when she took home her first moonman, and diplomatically stepped to the side to let her finish, which despite his pledge to do so, Kanye never did.
Worst: Taylor Swift gets her payback for Kanye West being as asshole
Anyone with eyes and a soul knows that what Yeezy did in 2009 was apprehensible. Unfortunately, in her usual habit of writing songs about the men who have wronged her, Taylor Swift penned the most boring revenge tune ever written and performed it barefoot one year after “Beyoncegate” went down. Her performance of “Innocent” was so dull and flat, if anything, it probably validated Kanye for being right that “Single Ladies” is by far one of the best songs of all time. I wish someone had ambushed the stage to interrupt this lackluster number.
Best: ‘NSYNC and the TV screens
Admittedly, I have never been obsessed with any of the boy bands (unless you count Hanson). But I like to be entertained, and I always appreciated that ‘NSYNC seemed like they really wanted to put on a show (their Superbowl Halftime performance is one of the greatest of all time in my book). There were usually sets (the lockers, anyone?), props (puppet strings) and costumes (Justin Timberlake’s highlighter yellow ‘fro). So this number where they perfectly executed a choreographed dance number with plasma screens (which were inventions from the future as far as I was concerned) in front of their faces while singing “It’s Gonna Be Me,” was the perfect millennial pop performance.
Best: Madonna passes the torch to Britney… with her tongue
The evening of the 2003 VMA’s was my first night in my freshman dorm. I didn’t have a TV, so I gathered in my new friend Kristin’s room after meeting during trust falls and Uncrustables at orientation. This opening number was like pop princess overload. First there was Britney, dressed as a bride. Omg, she’s paying homage to her idol, Madonna! But wait, now there’s another bride- Aaahhhh it’s Christina Aguilera! But don’t they hate each other?! Doesn’t matter- they love each other now, the Queer Eye guys in the audience squeal with delight, as do I. Some stripper-esque dance moves ensue, and then, a groom appears. HOLY SHIT it’s Madonna!!! They all sing Madonna’s “Hollywood” and the holy trifecta of female pop music is complete. Until… Madonna grabs Britney’s face and plants a fat, wet kiss on her, right on the lips. Now after watching Miley Cyrus make out with a doll and glorify various club drugs in her latest video, this seems like no big deal, but ten years ago, this was a thing. For me, it wasn’t so much about the kiss as it was that these three women, who were all at the height of the music scene and were always being compared to each other, came together to open this show and they wanted people to take notice. And they did. I swear, for a year, this was like the biggest entertainment news out there.
Worst: Christina Aguilera throws a fit and tried to remind everyone that Madonna totally kissed her too
Despite the fact that these ladies swapping spit was like, the most talked about celebrity story in 2003, most people had no clue that Christina Aguilera was even involved. Instead of keeping the camera on the stage when Madge and Xtina locked lips, MTV chose to pan to the audience for a very uncomfortable face from Justin Timberlake. This was when Christina was going through her “Dirrty” phase, and she was not impressed that Brit was touted as the only bad girl on the block. Take a cue from Missy Elliott- no one noticed that she was in this song and she’s totally over it.
So what I’d miss? Leave a comment with your bests and worst so we can compare. And follow me on Twitter @legallylinz for tonight’s live commentary.