As you all must be aware, the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards air this Sunday, August 28 at 8pm and promises to be a night full of non-stop entertainment with performances by Beyonce, Chris Brown, Lady Gaga and more. In light of one of the biggest nights in music, we thought we’d count down some of the shows most memorable and unforgettable performances. Take a look at some of our favorites below.
Whitney Houston- “How Will I Know”/ “Greatest Love Of All” (1986)
Trailblazer and legend Whitney Houston starts off our list with the uptempo #1, “How Will I Know”, followed by the timeless ballad, “The Greatest Love Of All”. The magnitude of this woman’s stage presence and command is unmatched. All she needed was a mic and her talent did the rest. Whitney, along with Michael Jackson helped break down a lot of barriers in music and MTV specifically in the 80′s, by being the first to generate substantive video airplay for blacks. A debt of gratitude is owed to these pioneers.
Chris Brown featuring Rihanna- “Wall To Wall/ “Kiss, Kiss”, “Umbrella” remix (2007)
In a show stealing, jaw-dropping performance, full of energy and acrobatics, Chris Brown showed why he is one of the premiere male entertainers of today, with a medley of songs from his second studio album, Exclusive. Brown, was then joined on stage by Rihanna for “Umbrella”. Chris also paid tribute to the King Of Pop with a dance breakdown to “Billie Jean”. Don’t worry, this one is tear free.
N’sync- “This I Promise You”/ “It’s Gonna Be Me”/ “Bye Bye Bye”‘ (2000)
N’sync performed on the VMA’S for three consecutive years, in 1999 (“Tearing Up My heart”), 2000, and 2001 (“Pop”) and this performance of all three stood out for me the most. The concept using the television screens was creative and both the vocals and dancing were on point. This is also the first time that I noticed the striking resemblance between Lance Bass and Ellen Degeneres.
Pink- “Sober” (2009)
Pink is a bonafide Pop Superstar and in 2009 proved that she can sound great, suspended hundreds of feet in the air and still make it look easy. “Sober”, is hypnotizing and mesmerizing from start to finish. As much as I miss “Black Pink”, “Cirque Du Soleil Pink” slays from up high and below.
Madonna- “Like A Virgin” (1984)
Many refer to Madonna as the Queen of Pop and she may as well be called the Queen of the VMA’s too. Madonna has given us so many great performances and moments over the last 2 and a half decades that it was hard to narrow it down to just one. I ended up choosing arguably the most iconic performance of her career with “Like A Virgin”, from the first ever Video Music Awards. Who will ever forget the enormous wedding cake and Madonna paying homage to Patti Labelle by rolling around on the floor? Madonna has gone on to re-invent herself time and again, but this look, this style in particular is what she’s most heavily identified with.
Beyonce- “Single Ladies” (2009)
By 2009, Beyonce had already established herself as one of the best female performers of her generation and this performance of the #1 hit “Single Ladies” solidified that claim. Amazing vocals? Check. Powerful stage presence? Check. Precise choreography? Check. Beyonce’s interaction and engagement with the audience also makes this performance one of her best. Now put your hands up!
TLC-”Kick Your Game”/ “Creep”/ “Waterfalls” -CrazySexyMedley (1995)
At the time that TLC hit the stage at the 1995 MTV VMA’s, they were the number one selling female group in history, due to the diamond plus selling sophomore album, CrazySexyCool. In celebration of the history making feat, they performed a medley of songs from the Grammy Winning album including “Waterfalls”, which won the ladies four awards that night. What’s so great about this performance is the Jackson 5 nod at the beginning, and the energy that TLC brought on stage. There were no special effects, no large ensemble of dancers, just those three, sheer star power and endless swag.
MC Hammer- “You Can’t Touch This” (1990)
MC Hammer was known for his elaborate stage shows and this performance was no different. He had an entire town on stage with him performing, but even with so much going on, it didn’t detract from him. The level of effort and dedication that MC Hammer put into his shows still hasn’t been matched, especially in rap music.
Janet Jackson- “That’s The Way Love Goes”/ “If”(1993)
The other Queen Of Pop, Janet Jackson brought the house down with her sensual and smooth performance of “That’s The Way Loves Goes” and “If”, from the multi-platinum Janet album. Miss Jackson was SERVING these intricate moves with fluidity and ease. This performance leaves no doubt as to why she was MTV’s first ICON and quite possibly the greatest female entertainer ever.
Lil Kim, Left-eye, Missy Elliot, Angie Martinez and Da Brat- “Not Tonight Remix” (1997)
In the 90′s, there was a lot of unity in female rap. Although the competition was fierce, the ladies of hip-hop could still come together to create one of the funnest performances in recent memory. Lil Kim was joined on stage for the hip-hop classic “Not Tonight (Ladies Night)” the remix featuring Angie Martinez, Left-Eye, Da Brat and Missy Elliot.
Brandy and Monica- “The Boy Is Mine” (1998)
“FINALLY”, the word screamed by millions of R&B fans after seeing Brandy and Monica meet for the first time on stage to perform the #1 single “The Boy Is Mine”. This performance signaled an end to the rumors about the pair not being able to stand one another, albeit temporarily. The two then baby divas sounded excellent and played off of each other well. This was one performance where the background dancers were a distraction and unnecessary. The ladies had more than enough talent to keep our attention.
Britney Spears- “Satisfaction”/ “Oops I Did It Again” (2000)
Britney Spears has continued the legacy of Madonna and has been the face of the VMA’s for her generation. She has performed on the VMA’s 5 times, starting in 1999, with each performance more exciting than the last, except for that trainwreck in 2007. Of all her showings, “Satisfaction”/ “Oops I Did It Again” is most unforgettable because of the moment where she strips down into seemingly nothing and danced for her life. Jaws dropped. Yes, she sounded like her vocal cords had been run through a meat grinder until the pre-recorded vocal kicked in, but still, amazing nonetheless.
P. Diddy, Usher, Busta Rhymes, Pharrell- “We Ain’t Going Nowhere”, “I Need A Girl 1 & 2″, “Pass The Courvoisier”
Regardless of how you feel about P. Diddy, he has always been a dynamic entertainer, carrying on the tradition of Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D and MC Hammer and with this showing, they had to be made proud. On the 2003 VMA’s Diddy managed to top himself with a performance which looked like something from the Universoul Circus, not to mention he was joined on stage by R&B veteran Usher, and hip-hop legend Busta Rhymes.
Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Missy Elliot- “Like A Virgin”/ “Hollywood” (2003)
In 2003, a moment was etched collectively in the minds of the world. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera paid tribute to the pop innovator, Madonna, with a redux of her classic performance of “Like A Virgin” from 1984, wedding dresses and all. Then came Madonna, Britney and THE KISS. It was cringe-worthy, tacky and 12 different kinds of wrong, but still Nat King Cole unforgettable. Missy also made an appearance looking like one of The Four Tops. Reach out indeed.
Michael Jackson- “The Way You Make Me Feel”/ “Black Or White”/ “Billie Jean”/ “Dangerous”/ “Smooth Criminal”/ You Are Not Alone” (1995)
What more can be we say about the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson that hasn’t already been said? He was the greatest. Period. The 1995 VMA’s was an important moment for MJ, because people needed to be reminded of who he was and what he’s capable of as an entertainer and boy were they ever. This performance was masterfully executed with precision and power. No one comes close. No one.
What were some of your favorite VMA performances? Did your fave make the list? Who did we forget? Sound off in the comment section.