11 VMA Moments That Shaped My Adolescence

OMG U GUYZ THE MTV VMAS ARE THIS SUNDAY WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!?!

Not me. But there was a time when that was me. When I was prime MTV target demographic, when I was impressionable and bought any artist that made it to the top 10 on TRL (see: Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. CDs in my childhood bedroom). Those formative years when I was a tween and eventual teen who was thriving at Backstreet Boys concerts and making websites on Geocities. Growing up, I was a teenybopper. I’m not gonna be ashamed about it. That’s just who I was. I was the girl who thought MTV was the coolest, the mecca of where all the celebs and musicians were featured. And the VMAs were my Super Bowl.

Back then, all my faves were either nominated, performing, or presenting, so it made sense that I was tuning in like a Michael Jackson popcorn GIF every year. And there were plenty of popcorn-GIF worthy moments that happened on the VMAs when I grew up. These are iconic and unforgettable performances – clips that takes me back to that time in my life when superstardom was out of reach and not a tweet away. Here are some of the MTV VMA moments that shaped my childhood. It’s crazy to think that Katy Perry and co. might have that same effect on tweens at this year’s ceremony. Guys, we are so old.

1994 ♦ Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley Make Out

Isn’t it weird to look back and think that the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s daughter was married to the King of Pop? Like, what even did they pay the music gods to get that love connection? Apparently not enough since their marriage didn’t last that long. However, this kiss is burned in my brain for eternity.

1995 ♦ Courtney Love bombs Madonna’s interview

I remember watching this live and having NO IDEA what was going on. But I don’t think Courtney Love did either. She wasn’t doing great at the time, but nevertheless, this is still rude. But alas, makes for great TV. Remember Kurt Loder? He is also part of my adolescence, which would be a weird thing to say to him IRL, I think.

1998 ♦ Mariah and Whitney Double Up

At the time this aired, I legit thought this was real. Like they definitely accidentally wore the same dress to the VMAs. I was concerned. Of course, it’s just a bit. I love bits. And I love Whitney Houston. Prince of Egypt forever.

1999 ♦ Diana Ross, Lil’ Kim and Lil Kim’s Lil’ Kim

Lil’ Kim’s outfit was outrageous then, and it continues to be even to this day. The 1999 VMAs were (and maybe continue to be?) my favorite VMAs ceremony of all time, and this is definitely one of the reasons why. I admit, I barely knew who Diana Ross was at the time, despite being obsessed with Phil Collins’ cover of The Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love. I didn’t know it was the same person! Anyways, I my mouth was agape when Diana bounced Lil’ Kim’s boob, and hoped that neither of my parents saw what had just happened as I watched the VMAs in our living room.

1999 ♦ Britney Spears and ‘N SYNC Take It Back To School

As I mentioned, 9.9.99 (it was on September 9th obvs) was a big year, particularly for pop music. It felt like it was at its height again, thanks to my boys BSB, Christina Aguilera, Britney, ‘N Sync, all the other boy bands, etc. This was one year after Tearin’ Up My Heart was released, but right around the time …Baby One More Time was becoming super popular. We all know the Britney/’N Sync relationship, but this was everything you could’ve wanted in a pop music performance on the VMAs. Singing, dancing, a school story, a surprise element of the ‘N Sync boys at the desks! As a BSB fan, I willingly admit this is and forever will be one of the best VMA performances in the show’s history.

1999 ♦ Backstreet Boys win the Viewer’s Choice VMA

As I mentioned, I am a BSB fan til the day I die, and 1999 was the height of BSB mania. Millennium had been released earlier that year, and the boys had basically shut down Times Square during their MTV special on release day. I was also at the height of my BSB mania, and voted non-stop in hopes they would win the Viewer’s Choice award against their rival (and mine), ‘N Sync. I remember jumping up and down, so ecstatic that “my” hard work paid off, and that my boys earned the much-deserved moonman. And yes, that white dude in the beginning pulled a Kanye before Kanye.

2000 ♦ Eminem and A Fuck Ton of Real Slim Shadys

Eminem also was a hot commodity in this era, releasing hit after hit after hit, including The Real Slim Shady. The song posits that there are many wannabes but only one Marshall Mathers, and because of that, he invited a whole lot of white guys in white t-shirts and jeans to be extras in his performance. Is this where my real fear of white men started? JK. A little.

2001 ♦ Britney and the Snake

I mean, obviously, right?

2002 ♦ Eminem vs. Moby and Christina Aguilera

Eminem wasn’t necessarily known to be a congenial person that got along with every artist that came across his path. He had beef with DJ Moby, which is why this awkward exchange with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog happened – right before Eminem won a moonman. Which as you can see from the clip, was handed to him by Christina Aguilera. If you recall, Em name-dropped Xtina in The Real Slim Shady, saying:

“Yo Shit, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs
So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst
And hear ’em argue over who she gave head to first
Little bitch, put me on blast on MTV
“Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee!”
I should download her audio on MP3
And show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD”

Which makes this clip even more memorable (and chilly) thanks to the shade from Ms. Aguilera herself.

2003 ♦ Britney, Madonna and Christina, You Know

The Mickey Mouse Club Was nothing but a memory after this performance.

2011 ♦  Beyonce and Blue

This did not have a hold on my adolescence, but I was still very much awakened when B revealed she was preggo with Blue after singing Love on Top.

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Miley Cyrus as the VMAs host? It Could Be Worse

There’s nothing that makes us feel more old than the Teen Choice Awards, as we’ve discussed before. Now a few weeks after our faces have gone back to normal, we’re faced with the annual MTV Video Music Awards. Growing up, I always thought of the VMAs to be the edgiest out of all the awards shows – the one that if I showed up to school the next day and talked about it in 5th grade, I would feel super cool. That didn’t mean I actually was. Over the years, whether we care to admit it or not, the VMAs are a gem in the zeitgeist crown. Even if we don’t know some of the songs or artists nominated, there will ALWAYS be something to talk about around the watercooler (or conversational landmark of your choosing) the next day. This year, plenty of people have already been talking about the show, thanks to their choice of host:

Having not abused my eyes with this picture for a while, it looks absolutely ridiculous. What even is this world we’re living in. Beetlejuice and a grown-up nude Kewpie doll are grinding.

No it’s not Robin Thicke OR that foam finger. It’s obviously Miley Cyrus. Good ol’ Destiny Hope is returning to the VMAs stage two years after the performance that rocked her entire career. One year after she weirdly let her homeless friend accept an award on her behalf:

KATY AND SAM COORDINATED SIDE EYE FTW

But let’s be real here folks, no matter what you think of Miley, we can all agree that whatever she does is entertaining and will garner the attention of… everyone, whether it be positive or negative. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do at the VMAs, and I might be watching with my head down shaking it in disappointment, but I’m looking forward to what she’ll do. Also, brilliant move by MTV.

In saying this, there have been way worse hosts of the VMAs than I expect Miley to be, so let’s just thank MTV head honchos for at least making us want to tune in. Here are some questionable emecees MTV has hired over the years that pretty much make me long for Miley.

1984: Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler

Ok, let’s attribute this choice to the fact it was the inaugural VMAs, and in the early era of MTV itself. Maybe they didn’t know what they were doing, or what kind of audience they were going for. I guess to be fair, Dan Aykroyd was popular at the time because of SNL and Ghostbusters, and Bette Midler was, more Bette Midler than she is now. But were they really the voice of the youth culture back then? Also, who decided to put these two together? Couldn’t have been one or the other? I have a lot of questions.

1986: MTV VJs: Downtown Julie Brown, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn & Dweezil Zappa

Again, for perspective, MTV was a huge deal in the ’80s, primarily because there was no network like it ever before. MTV was a channel that wasn’t ABC/CBS/NBC, that didn’t show scripted programming, and dedicated entirely to showing visual representations of music heard on the radio. It was groundbreaking, and in those first few years, it was such a big deal that the first VJs subsequently became a big deal too. So again, it makes sense that these folks were the hosts. But come on, that must have been a bore for the regular viewers. Even spreading them out throughout the country – and London? – is mediocre at best. They see these people all the time. It wouldn’t hurt for some new blood in there. I imagine it was so boring that that’s why I couldn’t really find any good clips of them. Which is why I’m sharing this video of a young Whitney singing How Will I Know. There’s something so special about her just singing and dancing without anything else except the neon MTV logos behind her. It’s a  far cry from the superproduced performances we’ve seen over the past decade. ‘N Sync and Britney, much? (As a BSB fan, I admit this is one of the best in VMA history).

1993: Christian Slater

You’re reading this right. Christian Slater, movie star and 90s hunk/bad boy, hosted the Video Music Awards. At the time, he was the hottie from Heathers and on the verge of hitting rave reviews in True Romance, so he was more or less the Zac Efron type of the era. However, he still didn’t quite fit into host of the VMAs, as evidenced by this clip of his monologue. He’s going through it as if he’s reading a presentation in science class. Except making horrible jokes like, “How ’bout that Madonna? I didn’t want that number to end but I ran out of quarters backstage”, in reference to this performance. He also made a joke about the Moonman being able to see up Sharon Stone’s dress from the stage, so, I mean, obviously a solid night.

 

1994: Roseanne

I do not like Roseanne. I do not think she’s funny. I hated her sitcom. The above outfit is physically hurting my eyes. I can’t even get myself to watch this clip of her hosting, but I’m assuming it’s bad.

2008 and 2009 Russell Brand

It’s not that I think Russell Brand isn’t funny. Because sometimes he can be. But also he can be a lot annoying, and bottom line is that I don’t find him entertaining. But hey, who am I to say what the youth of the world finds entertaining these days? I’m just saying do we trust a man with that hair and who divorces someone over the phone???