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14 Wild Scandals And Shocking Moments That Have Gone Down In VMAs History

From Ye vs. Taylor to Eminem getting in a screaming match with a dog puppet, I'm now convinced that the MTV Video Music Awards are the most scandalous awards show out there.

While most people probably tune in to the MTV Video Music Awards to celebrate the year's best music videos, watch the showshopping performances by some of the world's biggest artists, or marvel at the red carpet looks, my favorite part of the show is definitely the drama! The VMAs are typically full of feuds, scandals, and moments that are so wild, they have to be seen to be believed.

While we wait to see if any unbelievable scandals will erupt at the 2022 ceremony this Sunday, here are 14 wild, wacky, and truly unforgettable moments from VMAs history:

1. During the 2015 VMAs, Nicki Minaj uttered the words that launched a million memes: "Miley, what's good?" Prior to the VMAs, Miley Cyrus, who was slated to host the show, and Nicki seemed to be on good terms. They even teamed up to present Madonna with an award at that year's Grammys. Both singers had been in the headlines for their recent performances: Just two years earlier, Miley had come under fire for her twerking at the 2013 VMAs, only to rebound with a win for Video of the Year at the 2014 awards show, while Nicki was hurt that the video for her hit "Anaconda" had been snubbed when the nominations for Video of the Year were unveiled.

Despite the fact that "Anaconda" wasn't in the running for Video of the Year, the video did take home the prize for Best Hip-Hop Video. When Nicki took the stage to accept her VMA, she had Miley on her mind. After all, just weeks before, Miley had told the New York Times that Nicki was "not too kind" for being upset that she hadn't been nominated for Video of the Year, and for calling out the show for nominating mostly white women for the honor. During her acceptance speech, Nicki infamously asked, "Miley, what's good?" The remark clearly took Miley by surprise, and even though she attempted to apologize during the show, she appeared flustered for the rest of her hosting gig.

Miley smiling and Nicki looking sideways

2. The 2002 VMAs were held on Aug. 29, which just so happened to be Michael Jackson's 44th birthday. Producers planned to honor Michael with a birthday cake, which would be presented by Britney Spears. While Britney was introducing Michael, she referred to him as "the artist of the millennium." Michael thought that he had actually won the "Artist of the Millennium Award," and stepped up to the podium to deliver an incredibly awkward speech for the nonexistent honor. “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 never have believed it,” he said, thanking God and magician David Blaine for the honor.

Michael at the podium giving the peace sign with Britney standing behind him

3. Is it even possible to talk about the biggest VMAs scandals without including Kanye West storming the stage when Taylor Swift won the award for Best Video by a Female Artist in 2009, kicking off a feud that lasted for nearly a decade? It all began when Kanye, who now goes by "Ye," walked the red carpet with a bottle of Hennessy in hand, which producers noted seemed out of character for him. Meanwhile, Taylor, who was scheduled to perform her hit "You Belong With Me" during the show, arrived at the ceremony in a pumpkin-shaped carriage, seemingly referencing the idea that her success felt like a Cinderella story.

Kanye carrying a bottle of Hennessy and Taylor emerging from the carriage

Both Taylor and Beyoncé were among the nominees for Best Video by a Female Artist, which was scheduled to be one of the first awards of the night. Beyoncé was also nominated for Video of the Year for "Single Ladies," and many assumed that she would be taking home the evening's biggest prize. Sure enough, Taylor's "You Belong With Me" won Best Video by a Female Artist, seemingly proving the theory that Beyoncé would be winning her award later in the night. When an overwhelmed Taylor took the stage to accept the prize, Ye had his own plan. He jumped onstage, grabbed the mic, and said, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!"

The cameras instantly cut to Beyoncé, who exclaimed, "Oh, Kanye!" in the audience before switching to a prerecorded segment to allow producers to usher a shocked Taylor off the stage. Beyoncé joined Taylor backstage, where both were reportedly crying. Meanwhile, Ye headed back to his seat, where he was allegedly chewed out by Pink for his ill-timed interruption. MTV asked him to leave the ceremony soon after, despite the fact that he had been nominated for several awards. Backstage, producers rushed to comfort Taylor, who was scheduled to perform just minutes later. She pulled herself together and took the stage while Beyoncé looked on.

Beyoncé in the audience looking shocked

During Taylor's performance, a producer told Beyoncé that he believed she had won Video of the Year, and convinced her to invite Taylor onstage when she accepted her award. Sure enough, Beyoncé won Video of the Year for "Single Ladies." Once onstage, Beyoncé announced that she'd "like to give Taylor her moment." Later that night, Kanye published an apology on his blog. "I’m sooooo sorry to taylor swift and her fans and her mom," he wrote. "She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! i’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!. beyonce’s video was the best of this decade! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down! I’m sorry to my friends at mtv. I will apologize to taylor 2mrw."

Beyoncé holding an award and Taylor next to her onstage and holding a microphone

Despite the apology, the scandal had long-lasting repercussions. In the immediate aftermath, everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Barack Obama voiced their distaste for Ye's actions. At the 2010 VMAs, Taylor performed "Innocent," which includes lyrics like, “Who you are is not what you did. You’re still an innocent.” The two appeared to bury the hatchet by the 2015 VMAs, when Taylor presented Ye with the Video Vanguard Award by joking, “I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Kanye has had one of the greatest careers of all time.” Just a year later, Ye released his song "Famous," in which he insinuated that Taylor was only famous because of him. Ye's then-wife, Kim Kardashian, then leaked a phone call that painted Taylor as a liar, thus restarting the feud and ushering in Taylor's Reputation era.

4. It appears that Taylor Swift and Harry Styles had some bad blood after their January 2013 breakup. Harry and his One Direction bandmates took the stage to present the award for Best Pop Video. Taylor, who was sitting next to best friend and Best Pop Video nominee Selena Gomez, appeared to whisper, "Shut the fuck up" while Harry was speaking onstage. Later in the show while Taylor was accepting her award for Best Female Video, she appeared to take another dig at Harry. "I also want to thank the person who inspired this song because he knows exactly who he is, because now I've got one of these," she said as the camera panned over to Harry in the audience.

5. At the 2013 VMAs, Miley Cyrus planned to team up with Robin Thicke to perform a medley of their hit songs "We Can't Stop" and "Blurred Lines." During the performance, Miley, clad in a nude bikini, twerked and gyrated on a foam finger. While Miley saw the performance as the perfect way to distance herself from her Hannah Montana past, others thought it was way too raunchy for live TV. Even Robin was upset by Miley's dance moves, reportedly telling people that she "hijacked the performance."

Miley twerking onstage in front of Robin

Despite Robin's apparent distaste for their duet, Miley called him out in the New York Times: "He acted like he didn’t know that was going to happen. You were in rehearsals! You knew exactly what was going to happen." She even said that he wanted her "as naked as possible" for the performance so it would resemble the "Blurred Lines" music video. Miley went on to say that even though people she was close to were disappointed by the raunchy performance, she's still proud of it and thinks it changed the trajectory of her career. "I didn’t realize I could make such a big reaction," she said. "I didn’t think that many people would care. I knew I was famous, but I didn’t know what that meant. Everything was coming to an end and starting a new beginning. In every way."

Robin and Miley looking at each other as they perform onstage

6. Madonna was scheduled to perform a selection of some of her biggest hits during the 2003 VMAs. Much to the crowd's delight, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera joined Madonna onstage. The performance was supposed to be a riff on a wedding, with Madonna dressed in black to play the role of the groom, while Britney and Christina wore white lace to resemble brides. During the performance, Madonna planted a smooch on both Britney and Christina.

Britney and Madonna kissing, and Madonna and Christina kissing

While Britney and Madonna's kiss aired on live TV, Christina's didn't quite hit the airwaves. Instead, the producers clearly wanted to play up the drama, and cut the cameras to Britney's recent ex, Justin Timberlake, who sat stone-faced during the smooch. In the years following the notorious kiss, Madonna mentioned that she would love to re-create it. She finally got her wish at Britney's wedding in June 2022, where the pop icons reunited with a peck. The footage of the original kiss was even auctioned off as an NFT in October 2021, with all of the proceeds going to GLAAD.

7. Miley Cyrus is clearly no stranger to a VMAs controversy! While hosting the 2015 awards show, she hid behind a curtain for a backstage segment. As she spoke, her grip on the curtain loosened, exposing her bare boob. The malfunction came as concerned viewers worried that Miley would make the show too risqué for young audiences. Prior to the show, VMAs executive producer Van Toffler told Billboard that they were prepared in case Miley, you know, was just being Miley. "We have [planned] a lot of wide camera shots and a lot of audience reactions," he said. "And we have a delay, so we're prepared for her."

Miley behind the curtain with her exposed breast pixelated

8. Backstage at the 2002 Grammys, Moby told Rolling Stone that he thought Eminem was "very clever, but he's also a misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, and an antisemite." Eminem was unhappy with the singer's remarks and sought revenge at the 2002 VMAs. During the show, the rapper shoved his middle finger in Moby's face and called him a "little girl" before confronting the singer once again offstage, where he reportedly called him a "pussy."

Eminem at the podium holding up and award and Moby in the audience smiling at Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

The drama didn't end there. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (yes, a dog puppet) soon got involved, roasting the rapper. Eminem responded by pushing the dog aside before heading to the stage. "I will hit a man with glasses," he said, looking directly at Moby, who just so happened to be donning a pair of glasses. Following the show, Triumph gave a press conference where he unleashed one final jab at Eminem. "Everyone, please. Let's all try to be easy on Eminem," he said. "At the end of the day, he's just another white guy trying to make an honest living...stealing Black people's music." Months later, Moby was beat up by a group of Eminem fans outside a club in Boston.

Eminem holding his hand up in front of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

9. Britney Spears's "I'm a Slave 4 U" performance at the 2001 VMAs has gone down in history as one of the show's most iconic performances, largely because Britney performed with a 7-foot-long python that she was actually terrified of. Turns out, her fears were warranted: Producers had to get a permit to allow Britney to perform with the serpent because they were banned by the New York Department of Health. Animal rights groups like PETA instantly condemned the performance, which also included a live tiger, because of the pyrotechnics and loud music.

Britney onstage with the snake

10. Snoop Dogg's appearance at the 1993 VMAs had the potential to be his last hurrah. Snoop, who was known as Snoop Doggy Dogg back then, was wanted by police for his involvement in the shooting of Philip Woldemariam, a man whom Snoop had allegedly gotten into an altercation with about a month before the show. Professionally, Snoop was poised to make a big splash. He was slated to present an award at the VMAs, and his debut album was expected to drop just weeks later.

Snoop with Shaquille O'Neal

After his attorney organized the arrangements for the rapper to surrender to authorities, Snoop failed to show up at the police station when the other two suspects turned themselves in. Instead, he headed to the VMAs, where he presented the award for Best R&B Video. Soon after, Snoop turned himself in. The case went to trial in 1995, and Snoop, who claimed that Philip had been killed in self-defense, was found not guilty.

Mugshot of Snoop

11. At the 1991 VMAs, Prince took the stage in a yellow jumpsuit to perform his song "Gett Off." Audiences were shocked when he turned around during the performance to reveal what many believed were his bare butt cheeks while he was surrounded by half-naked dancers. While some were outraged by the perceived nudity, it turned out that audiences weren't actually seeing Prince's bare bottom! Instead, his stylist had sewn in (incredibly lifelike) flesh-colored panels to give the illusion of nudity.

Prince performing onstage in the jumpsuit

12. Howard Stern was hoping to launch a new film franchise at the 1992 VMAs, but it turned out that his idea was a huge flop. While Fartman had actually been created in 1979 by National Lampoon magazine, Howard had been featuring his take on the character on his radio show through the 1980s. He decided that he wanted to expand Fartman's reach and eventually decided that Fartman was going to make his television debut at the 1992 ceremony.

Howard as Fartman

Howard, donning a butt-baring costume, hung from wires suspended from the ceiling before presenting the award for Best Heavy Metal Video. The stunt did not have the intended effect, and audiences were less than thrilled by the idea of Fartman being the latest superhero to grace their screens. The film adaptation of the character was quickly scrapped, until Howard reenacted the awkward performance for the opening scene of Private Parts, the movie based on his memoir.

Howard as Fartman exposing his bare butt cheeks

13. Thus far in VMAs history, only one person has been forbidden from ever attending the show. That honor goes to Andrew Dice Clay, who was banned from the show following his 1989 stand-up act at the VMAs that doubled as an introduction for a performance for Cher. Andrew performed some of his signature naughty nursery rhymes onstage and even dropped two X-rated curse words during the three-minute set. Network officials decided that his performance was too raunchy and banned him not only from attending future shows but also from appearing on MTV altogether. Andrew's performance also made the network incredibly wary of including stand-up performers in future ceremonies. In fact, stand-up was left out of the show entirely until Dane Cook revived comedy at the VMAs with a set in 2005.

Andrew Dice Clay wearing sunglasses

14. And finally, we're throwing it way back to the first-ever VMAs. During the inaugural ceremony, held in 1984, Madonna performed her hit "Like a Virgin." MTV was originally worried about the song, which was already controversial thanks to its subject matter and provocative title. They finally agreed to let Madonna perform it, but nixed her original idea of singing it to a Bengal tiger. Instead, she emerged from a massive wedding cake.

Madonna wearing a lacy corset-type gown and a "Boy Toy" belt

While she was making her descent, one of her stilettos fell off. In order to play off the wardrobe malfunction, Madonna kicked off the other heel, only to realize that she would need to retrieve them in order to finish the performance. When she bent to pick up the shoes, her dress flew over her head, exposing her undergarments for the world to see. Ever the performer, Madonna used the gaffe to her advantage and performed a much more sexually suggestive take on the song than MTV had been anticipating. In fact, the performance was so shocking that her manager told her that her career was probably over. "Like a Virgin" went on to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Madonna gyrating onstage in the gown

Do any other scandals or shocking moments from VMAs history come to mind? Let us know in the comments!

The 2022 Video Music Awards air this Sunday, Aug. 28, on MTV.