Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:02:41 AM ESTUpdated On: Aug 28 2015 02:00:00 AM EDT
2014: A year after her twerk-filled performance set tongues wagging, Miley Cyrus took a different approach, stopping short of the stage after winning Video of the Year for "Wrecking Ball." Instead, she sent a young man identified as Jesse Helt to accept her award on "behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youths in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now." Cyrus appeared to be near tears as Helt, who said he was homeless, read his speech.
2014: Beyonce and Blue Ivy steal the show, with the singer's 2-year-old daughter getting much camera time sitting on Jay Z's lap during her mother's 16-minute performance on stage. Her father then carried her onstage to present Beyonce with the MTV Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, declaring her "the greatest living entertainer."
2013: Miley Cyrus' performance of "We Can't Stop" turns heads with her skimpy outfit, twerking and several crotch grabs. But it's her collaboration with Robin Thicke for "Blurred Lines" that causes a gasp among the crowd. Cyrus strips down to a nude bra and underwear and grinds her body against Thicke.
2013: Justin Timberlake earns a standing ovation as he sings and dances his way through his most recent hits, working backward to the worst-kept secret in Hollywood: Timberlake and his former boy band brethren *NSYNC reunited on stage.
2011: After wowing the audience with a tightly choreographed performance of "Love on Top," Beyonce finishes off the song by opening her jacket to rub her growing baby bump.
2011: Lady Gaga channels her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, to perform "You & I" and accept awards for Best Video with a Message and Best Female Video during the ceremony. She also presented Britney Spears with the Video Vanguard award, but struck out when asking the singer for a kiss.
2010: Lady Gaga attempts to start a new fashion trend by wearing a dress made of meat.
2009: In arguably the most memorable moment in MTV Video Music Awards history, rapper Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video for "You Belong with Me," grabbing the mic with the words "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'ma Let you finish" before proclaiming that Beyonce's video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," nominated for the same award, was "one of the best videos of all time."
2009: Lady Gaga gives an over-the-top performance of "Paparazzi" that sees the singer covered in fake blood by the time the song is over.
2009: Nearly three months after her brother's death, Janet Jackson performs a tribute to the late King of Pop.
2007: Britney Spears' much-hyped comeback falls flat as the singer gives an underwhelming performance of her new song "Gimme More" that saw her badly lip-synching while struggling to keep up with her backup dancers.
2003: In a shocking opening performance of "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood," Madonna and Britney Spears lock lips. Following the kiss, Madonna also plants a kiss on fellow performer Christina Aguilera.
2002: Nearing the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band open the VMAs by performing the 9/11-inspired song "The Rising" in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. After finishing the song, Springsteen and his band played for more than an hour for the fans who had gathered for their performance.
2002: During the ceremony, Eminem gets into an altercation with the celebrity-mocking puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, shoving the puppet during its interview with Moby, whom the rapper also bashed during his acceptance speech later in the night.
2002: While Springsteen's opener was a highlight of the show, it ended on a down note with a dreadlocked and out-of-breath Axl Rose leading his crew of replacement Guns 'N' Roses members through their first big TV performance and the band's first American performance since the mid-1990s.
2001: Performing for the second year in a row, Britney Spears gives a memorable rendition of "I'm a Slave 4 U" with a snake wrapped over her shoulders.
2001: Michael Jackson (arm raised) returns to the spotlight with a surprise appearance near the end of *NSYNC's performance of "Pop." The King of Pop showed off his signature dance moves while then-*NSYNC member Justin Timberlake beat-boxed in the background.
2000: Leading off the show, rapper Eminem gives a memorable performance of "The Real Slim Shady" that started outside Radio City Music Hall with more than a hundred lookalikes at his side. He led his clones inside the building and down the aisles to kick off the show.
2000: Performing "Oops… I Did it Again," Britney Spears rips off her black suit to reveal a flesh-colored bodysuit underneath, causing many viewers to squint to make sure the pop singer was actually still clothed.
2000: As Limp Bizkit is being presented the Best Rock Video award, Tim Commerford, bassist for fellow nominee Rage Against the Machine, runs up onstage and climbs a piece of the stage set. There he remained during Limp Bizkit's acceptance speech, despite encouragement from singer Fred Durst and the audience to jump. Commerford was removed by security during the commercial break and spend the night in jail.
1999: With co-presenter Lil' Kim wearing only a shiny purple shell pasty over her left breast, Motown legend Diana Ross couldn't resist reaching out and playfully copping a feel while Mary J. Blige looked on.
1997: Puff Daddy performs an emotional version of his hit single "I'll Be Missing You" in memory of the recently murdered Notorious B.I.G., bringing along Biggie's widow, Faith Evans, R&B group 112 and Sting, who sings the song's sample of his original vocals from The Police's "Every Breath You Take."
1997: While accepting her Best New Artist award, Fiona Apple goes into meltdown mode with a rambling speech in which she bashes MTV and celebrity culture. The memorable acceptance speech included Apple explaining "this world is bulls---" and quoting Maya Angelou in telling fans to "Go with yourself."
1996: David Lee Roth joins his former Van Halen bandmates onstage for the first time in a decade. However, the reunion would be short-lived. Eddie Van Halen took exception with Roth's mugging behind Beck after the band presented him with his award and a potential reunion was soon declared off again.
1995: A year after his infamous onstage kiss with then-wife Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jackson opens the VMAs with an epic 15-minute medley of his hits, including "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" and "Black or White."
1993: Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" video wins four awards, including Video of the Year. Neil Young also joined the band onstage for a performance of "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World." Pearl Jam would respond to the attention by not making another video until 1998.
1992: After MTV told them they couldn't play their song "Rape Me," Nirvana gives the network brass a heart attack by launching into the first few chords of the song before starting into the previously approved "Lithium" instead. The performance was also notable for Krist Novoselic's bass toss at the end of the song, with the bass conking him on the head on the way down, and for drummer Dave Grohl grabbing the mic to taunt Guns 'N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose.
1992: Luke Perry introduces Howard Stern as his superhero alter-ego "Fartman," with the radio shock jock descending to the stage wearing a pair of open-backed gold spandex pants while fart sounds fill UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
1991: You can't see it here, but Prince performed his song "Gett Off" in a striking yellow suit that would have been eyecatching even before he turned his back to the camera to reveal the pants had no fabric covering his derrière.
1991: Weeks after making headlines for his arrest in an adult movie theater, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) makes his first public appearance since the arrest, uttering the line "Heard any good jokes lately?"
1990: Madonna goes full-on Victorian for her performance of "Vogue."
1989: Comedian Andrew Dice Clay gets himself banned from MTV "for life" after going off script and delivering some of his signature dirty nursery rhymes during his appearance.
1989: Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora of the rock group Bon Jovi go unplugged with acoustic versions of the band's hits "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Livin' on a Prayer."
1984: During the first-ever Video Music Awards, Madonna performs her iconic hit "Like A Virgin" while wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown and rolling around on the ground.