No one can stop talking about Miley Cyrus’s 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance. Between the twerking, the bedazzled mouse unitard, and the giant teddy bears that joined her on stage, there’s a lot of ground to cover — and that’s before you even get to her “Blurred Lines” duet with Robin Thicke. But with all the tongues wagging (including Miley’s), it’s easy to forget that this is par for the course for the VMAs.
In its 29-year history, the MTV awards show has seen its share of bare butts, backstage fights, drunken speeches, and performances with pythons. Here are five memorable VMA moments. Let us know if you think any of them top Miley’s recent endeavor.
Madonna Sings “Like a Virgin” (1984)
Kicking off the very first VMAs in style, pop star Madonna gave an iconic performance of “Like a Virgin” while wearing a wedding dress, a “Boy Toy” belt buckle, and lots of jewelry. In what was sort of the ‘80s version of twerking, Madonna writhed, rolled around, and gyrated, ending it all with a look at her underwear and garters. It was pretty scandalous for the time.
Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley Kiss in 1994
Who would’ve thought a kiss between a husband and wife would be so surprising? When Michael Jackson and Elvis’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, took the VMAs stage in 1994, they tried to put rumors that their marriage was a publicity stunt to bed with a full-on, five-second kiss. Later, Lisa Marie told Oprah that though their love was real, her ex-husband “was conditioned to get himself where he needed to go for his career, and he became very good at making and creating and puppeteering."That may explain why the moment felt so forced.
Diana Ross Fondles Lil’ Kim (1999)
If you thought Miley’s nude bra-and-underwear combo was risqué, then we invite you to revisit the 1999 VMAs, when Lil’ Kim wore an off-the-shoulder (and more) pantsuit that only covered one breast. A purple pasty obscured the nipple, but the rest of her boob was just hanging out. Diana Ross, who presented an award with the rapper, gave Lil’ Kim’s exposed bit a little jiggle, much to the delight of the crowd.
Madonna Kisses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera (2003)
You’re forgiven if you forgot Madonna kissed both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 VMAs, because the genius producers quickly cut to a reaction shot of Justin Timberlake, Britney’s ex, after she swapped spit with Madonna. His stunned expression mirrored the way a lot of viewers felt at the time.
Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift (2009)
In a long line of memorable Kanye West VMA moments, 2009’s stage crashing takes the cake. As Taylor Swift gave her acceptance speech after winning the Best Female Video Award, Kanye came and took the mic from her. "I'm sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time," he said, referring to “Single Ladies.” Not only was Beyoncé stunned, the moment spawned the “I’mma let you finish” meme.