Top 10 VMA Performances

MTV has always been an iconic station to see the hottest new videos from the industry’s most prominent voices. With the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) approaching this Sunday, I thought it’d be a good idea to look back at the most iconic and memorable performances from this musical extravaganza.

Below are what I believe to be noteworthy performances!

  1. Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj – “Bang, Bang” (2014)

This, like most performances on this list and at the VMAs, was a very high energy and exciting performance. The girl power encompassed in this song and performance was truly iconic. But, not only was it memorable because of the uniting of these pop powerhouses, but because of the wardrobe malfunction that Nicki Minaj both endured and conquered. Prior to this performance she performed her single “Anaconda” in a totally different costume. The quick change ended up being to quick and the zipper on her dress broke. But, the SHOW MUST GO ON, so she got on stage in time to rip her verse while holding her dress together. She didn’t miss one beat!

  1. Adele – “Someone Like You” (2011)

From her released album, 21, Adele beautifully belted one of her most popular ballads. Adele is known for her powerful voice. And as a performer, I appreciate that she doesn’t allow her set, costumes, etc. to engulf her performances. The stage was simple and really pushed the audience to listen to the beautiful music she was creating on stage.

  1. Mariah Carey – “Emotions” (1991)

In 1991, Maria Carey was fresh on the scene and her beautiful voice was effortlessly floating over those insane pitches! By insane pitches, I mean those whistle tones. I also loved her energy in this performance.

  1. Whitney Houston – “How will I know?” (1986) 

This performance was very 80s! (It WAS the 80s Ben, duhh.) Not only was Whitney rocking the big hair and overexaggerated eyeshadow but she was also rocking that big beautiful voice she was blessed with. Of all the Whitney performances, this is probably my favorite! She just looked so radiant and beautiful.

  1. Britney Spears – “Baby, One more time!” (1999)

Ok, its no secret that Ms. Spears is not known for vocals like the other artists on this list. Its not shade, its facts. But, Ms. Spears IS known for serving a sickening performance. In this year’s VMA she did just that! Although she’s done other performances where she flipped, danced with snakes, etc., there’s nothing like a blast from the past on a late 90s and early 2000s  pop classic.

  1. Janet Jackson – “Doesn’t Really Matter” (2000)

Being that Janet is probably one of the only artist I know that can serve a high energy performance with a slow song; its not coincidence that she opens the top 5 of most memorable VMA performances. “Doesn’t Really Matter” is a slow bop, but she puts that Jackson family spin on it and gives you a stellar performance!

  1. Madonna – “Vogue” (1990)

With a reputation of being extravagant and extrodinary, it would be a crime not incorporate Madonna in this list. In this performance of “Vogue,” Madonna does exactly what she’s known for doing, putting on a show. With a Victorian era themed stage, she prances around singing one of her most popular hits. The costumes, choreography, stage presentation, and the energy earns her spot in this countdown.

  1. Lady Gaga – “Paparazzi” (2009) 

If you don’t know why this performance is a part of this list, you need to search it up. This is one of the only Gaga performances that I thoroughly enjoyed. In this performance, she showcased just about all of her talents. Vocals, dance, and playing the piano. This performance was iconic because it was during the height of one of her most successful eras. What really made the performance was the theatrics and expression of the song. You go Gaga.

  1. Beyoncé – “Love on Top” (2011)

Out of all the performances Queen Bey has done on the VMAs this by far is the most iconic. More iconic than Ring the Alarm, Single Ladies, and Video Vanguard. In this performance Bey effortlessly sings Love On Top, EFFORTLESSLY. She takes us through about 50 modulations (exaggerations) just to reiterate her vocal ability. The simplicity in the performance although dynamic was amazing. Did I mention she was 4 months pregnant during the entire show? At the end of the show she announced to the world that she’d be having her first girl, Blue Ivy. (When will your fav?)

1. Michael Jackson – “Dangerous” (1995)

This, for obvious reasons, deserves the top spot. There’s really no need to explain the greatness that created this performance. Michael Jackson was and STILL is one of the most iconic performers. This performance was the same caliber as any other he’d done. Excited, energized, and entertaining! 

I’m excited for this Sunday’s award show. Will I need to switch/add any performers for next year’s countdown?

From one millennial to another,

Benjamin Coy

Here’s a link to all the performances listed!


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