From Courtney to Kanye: The most talked-about moments in VMA history

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Image Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Some years, MTV’s Video Music Awards pass by without anything worth gossiping about happening. Other years, Kanye West rushes onstage to tell the audience Taylor Swift doesn’t actually deserve the award she just received.

The Kanye-Taylor debacle is just one of the many non-musical moments that caused viewers to gather around the day after the show, asking each other, “Did you see that?” That night, West’s interruption joined a group of other watercooler moments from VMAs of years gone by including Fiona Apple’s infamous “this world is bulls–t” acceptance speech and Madonna’s interview gone wrong. 

1987: Peter Gabriel wins nine Moonmen for “Sledgehammer”
Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” was so beloved that it won the singer nine Moonmen, more than any other artist had ever received in a single night. His record still remains unbroken.

1989: Andrew Dice Clay gets banned
Comedian Andrew Dice Clay went off-script at the VMAs, presenting some of his R-rated poems on-screen and was banned from the network for life—according to Clay, though, the ban has since been lifted.

1994: Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley kiss
Now, the idea that a married couple sharing a kiss onstage would be seen as in any bit controversial or exciting is ludicrous. But in 1994, seeing two members of music royalty make out was a Big Deal, especially since Michael Jackson was notoriously secretive about his personal life.

1995: Courtney Love interrupts Kurt Loder’s interview with Madonna
Madonna was having a perfectly normal interview with MTV VJ Kurt Loder when suddenly Courtney Love forced her way into their interview. It started off awkward—Love insulted another MTV VJ who was off-camera—but Madonna and Love soon started talking about what kind of men they like to date and what shoes they were wearing before a publicist stole Madonna away, leaving a messy Love to finish up the interview with Loder.

1996: Van Halen reunites
After 11 years apart, the four original members of Van Halen reunited briefly to present the award for Best Male Video. They weren’t too focused on their job, though—David Lee Roth kept getting sidetracked, first bringing up the fact that the group hadn’t been on a stage together in a long time, and then commenting on what’s changed over the years. “It used to be ‘I want my MTV,'” he said. “Now it’s like, ‘Give me your f–king MTV or I’ll blow your head off!'”

1997: Fiona Apple says “this world is bulls–t” in acceptance speech
When Fiona Apple won a Moonman, she didn’t thank the usual suspects—instead, she used the opportunity to make some big claims. “This world is bulls–t,” Apple said, “and you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself.”

1998: Green Day’s Tré Cool scales the Universal Globe
Green Day drummer Tré Cool lived up to his name when he skipped out in the middle of an interview to climb the Universal Studios Globe, something highly illegal but highly complimented. When Cool returned to the interview, Kurt Loder asked him why he did it. “I haven’t broken anything for, like, six hours,” Cool responded with a laugh.

1999: Diana Ross jiggles Lil’ Kim’s boob
Instead of a traditional greeting, Diana Ross just went with bouncing Lil’ Kim’s breast, which was wearing nothing but a sequined pasty. Lil’ Kim didn’t seem disturbed: She responded to Ross’ “hello” by throwing back her head and laughing.

1999: Mothers of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. present award together
Though Tupac and Biggie had a tumultuous relationship, Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace took a stand together after their sons’ deaths when they presented the award for Best Rap Video. “In keeping with both ours sons’ memories and contributions to the arts, we stand united as mothers, preserving their legacies,” Shakur said.

2001: Rage Against the Machine’s bassist scales the set
Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford was so upset about Limp Bizkit winning an award that he did what any protester would do: He scaled the set. “Stage dive, dude,” Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst encouraged Commerford before continuing his acceptance speech. Commerford didn’t end up jumping, but he did eventually have to get down to spend the rest of the evening in jail.

2002: Eminem rejects Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog couldn’t understand why Eminem would call Moby a “36-year-old, bald-headed f–”  in “Without Me” so he went straight to the source to investigate. Eminem wasn’t in the mood to chat, though, and physically pushed the dog out of his way, causing an injury that later required the puppet to don a tiny neck brace.

2007: Tommy Lee and Kid Rock fight over Pamela Anderson
Though Tommy Lee and Kid Rock’s fight wasn’t part of the official program, it still managed to make headlines: The two spatted during Alicia Keys’ performance and were soon escorted outside by security. Lee got off easy, but Kid Rock ended up being charged with assault. The two never made an official statement about the fight, but rumors suggested the fight had to do with Pamela Anderson, who was once married to Lee and was recently divorced from Kid Rock at the time.

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Image Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

2009: Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift
In what became perhaps the most infamous moment in recent VMAs history, Kanye West responded to Taylor Swift winning the award for Best Female Video by running onstage and interrupting her acceptance speech to proclaim Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” deserved the win. West later apologized repeatedly, at one point telling Jay Leno, “It was rude, period. I’d like to be able to apologize to her in person.”

2010: Lady Gaga wears a dress made of meat
Lady Gaga wore an outfit entirely comprised of raw beef, wasting some perfectly good meat and (inevitably) upsetting PETA. Later, Oprah asked Gaga if the meat smelled by night’s end—and of course, it did. “I kind of liked it,” Gaga said. “I don’t like talking to celebrities, so I figured if it stinks, they won’t come close.”

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Image Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

This year’s Video Music Awards air Aug. 24 on MTV.

Correction: Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno did not land on Eminem’s face at the MTV Video Music Awards as previously written. The stunt took place at the MTV Movie Awards. 

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