Award shows, as fun as they are, can be strange affairs — and the VMAs are no exception. Bizarre things happen. A standard post-show red carpet interview could be hijacked and twisted into something sillier, for example, or someone could run off and scale the Universal Studios globe because hey, sure, why not? Things get weird.
And we love it: all the weirdness, all the awkward moments when the parties involved literally don’t know what they could possibly say, all the moments that pass by in their uncomfortable glory and make us cringe like we’re at the wrong family reunion (or the right one, depending on your family).
These are seven we’ll never forget — and we know you won’t, either.
BABYFACED TAYLOR SWIFT INTERVIEWS THE BABYFACED JONAS BROTHERS (2008)
Check the scene: It’s ’08, and Tay and Joe are fully ‘shipped. Tay’s working the red carpet pre-show extravaganza and asks the JoBros about their Video Of The Year nom — while totally making eyes at Joe (and while he shoots them right back). It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it’s only a little awk in an extremely adorable way.
FIONA APPLE: “THIS WORLD IS BULLS–T” (1997)
Oh, Fiona. We were with you when you told everyone not to model their behaviours or their styles on what their favourite celebs do. We were with you when you told everyone to just “be yourself.” And then you said it was “stupid” that you were in this world, and we just couldn’t follow anymore. It’s not stupid. It’s actually really effing awesome.
TIM C. RAGES AGAINST THE MA-SCENERY (2000)
There will never be a time quite like the early 2000s. A veritable Wild West of musical tastes and styles, rock music was in a very experimental stage — and acts like Limp Bizkit and Rage Against The Machine were at the forefront. But when Limp took home the Moonman for Best Rock Video, Rage’s Tim Commerford protested (of course) by scaling the set and rocking it to try and bring it down. Awkward LOLz ensued. Rage went home empty-handed, sadly.
EMINEM GETS HANDSY WITH A PUPPET DOG (2002)
We all know Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog — that staple of mid-2000s celebrity culture whose job it was to literally make things as awkward and uncomfortable as possible for everyone. So it’s no wonder, when he approached Em asking for his thoughts on a Moby-centric diss on “Without Me,” that Em wasn’t having any of it. He gently shoved the puppet out of his face, and Triumph later ended up in a neck brace (while Em made out with Video Of The Year). Awkward AF.
EVERY RIFF RAFF AND KATY PERRY INTERACTION (2014)
Last year, Katy brought Riff Raff as her date, which was entertaining enough. But we were pretty into the general awkwardness of their embraces — or lack thereof. When Katy won Best Female Video for “Dark Horse,” she pretty much bypassed any acknowledgement of her date in order to rush the stage and snatch her Moonman. Ouch, dude.
“MILEY, WHAT’S GOOD?” (2015)
Nicki Minaj wasn’t about to let 2015 VMA host Miley Cyrus badmouth her without a fight. After Miley called Nicki “not too kind” in an interview published three days before the VMAs, Nicki went ahead and won a moonman for her “Anaconda” video. She closed her acceptance speech with three words that will never stop ringing in our ears: “Miley, what’s good?”
KANYE WEST INTERRUPTS TAYLOR SWIFT (2009)
Was there really any doubt? Right as Tay grabbed the mic to accept her Best Female Video award for “You Belong With Me,” Yeezy snatched it from her to declare that “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Yeah, the most awkward. But hey, there’s no more “bad blood” between the two — and we got some amazing music from both of them because of it. Win-win!