This Sunday, the MTV Video Music Awards come to Brooklyn and are sure to make us LOL, say “OMG,” and definitely go WTF!?!?! To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most WTF moments in VMA history.
10. Britney Spears Humiliates the Vienna Philharmonic
In what was supposed to be a thrilling mash-up of pop and classical music, Britney Spears turned her performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” with the Vienna Philharmonic into an uncomfortable and unforgettable moment. “Stop, stop, stop!” she shouted at the 104-member orchestra. “I know you dipshits are used to playing Haydn and other elementary school garbage, but this is a courante. That means 3/4ths time, fuck-o’s, or do I have to spell it out for you?”
She then grabbed the viola out of the first chair’s hands and performed a perfect pizzicato section of “I’m a Slave 4 U.” “Is that so hard, shit-for-brains?”
Later, lead conductor Pierre Boulez told reporters, “Ms. Spears was absolutely right and I hope she accepts my apology on behalf of the entire Vienna Philharmonic.”
9. Beetle Bailey Wins Best Hip-Hop Video
For years, MTV was accused of willfully ignoring rap and hip-hop while treating it like a less valid form of music. This was exacerbated in 1999 when the network gave the first ever Best Hip-Hop Video award to Beetle Bailey.
The fact that the comic strip–which lampoons life on an Army base and features the widely loved characters Private Beetle Bailey and Sergeant Snorkel–won this award led many to believe that MTV didn’t even know what hip-hop was and that they were content with taking a complete shot in the dark.
For its part, Beetle Bailey shrugged off the controversy and is still syndicated in newspapers nationwide.
8. Bono Makes a Rare Public Appearance
The notoriously shy and reclusive U2 frontman shocked the world in 2004 when he appeared on stage at the VMAs to present the award for Best Group Video. “Hi,” he whispered into the mic before nervously shuffling into the wings. Shortly afterwards, Bono’s representative sent out a press release that merely said, “Bono wishes you would respect his privacy. Bono doesn’t like attention.”
He hasn’t been seen in public since.
7. Andrew Dice Clay Correctly Predicts Every Super Bowl Result (So Far)
During the 1989 VMAs, the controversial comic went off-script with an odd, almost tourettic tangent. “The Diceman” rattled off football teams and scores. It wasn’t realized until years later that he was actually predicting correct Super Bowl results.
“San Francisco 55, Denver 10–OH! New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19–BADABING! Washington 37, Buffalo 24–YO!” He stopped ominously after what would be the 2017 Super Bowl before snapping out of his haze and frantically asking where he was.
6. Kanye’s at it Again!
Some people just don’t know when to quit. Just two years after infamously storming the stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, Kanye shocked the world with another insane rant after Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” beat “All of the Lights” for Video of the Year.
“I’m disappointed,” the rapper and producer said, not holding anything back. “But I want to send my congratulations out to Justin. He had a great video and I thank MTV for the honor of being nominated.”
Chill, Kanye! Does this guy even have a filter?
See also: Justin Bieber in 2014: A Timeline
5. Monica Levitates
Halfway through her 1998 performance of “The Boy is Mine” with Brandy, singer Monica spontaneously levitated without assistance of wires, pulleys, or anything beyond what can only be called magic. The act of psychokinesis required all of her energy, leaving Brandy to sing both parts of the duet.
“It was unprofessional,” Brandy told reporters after the show. “She can’t just float there and assume everything is going to be normal between us the second she decides to start respecting the laws of gravity again.”
4. Unaware the Show is Live, Madonna Eats a Full Slab of Babyback Ribs On Stage
As the lights came up, many people in attendance assumed it was all part of her act as The Material Girl went to town on a messy, full slab of Kansas City-style ribs (No dry rub, these bad boys were SAUCED-UP). To television audiences, it looked as if she was chowing down on a half-slab, but what their low-resolution TVs couldn’t pick up was that Madonna had folded the full slab in half, almost like a slice of New York-style pizza.
After a backup dancer whispered into her ear that they were, in fact, on live television, Madonna chewed the last bit of meat off the final bone and launched into a virtuoso performance of “Vogue.”
What a pro.
3. Jimmy Carter Lashes Out!
MTV invited the 39th president of the United States to the 2003 VMAs for what they assumed would be a presentation about community service. Instead, Carter went off on a number of artists who he alleged were making thinly disguised slights at him in their music.
“Yo Ja Rule, I’m listening, dog,” Carter said while gripping the podium. “Don’t think I’m not gonna ride up on your punk ass. I want everyone to know that I’m listening. You think Jimmy Carter doesn’t know what’s going on? You think this is a fucking game? I warn once. Remember that. I. Warn. Once. You know what it is.”
Later at an after party Carter reportedly had to be forcibly removed after attempting to choke out DMX.
2. Someone Wore Something
I forget what year it was, but someone definitely wore something. Did it show their boobs or something? The side of their boobs? Maybe their butt was exposed. Yeah, that’s it, their butt was hanging out. But why am I picturing a wetsuit? Was it a wetsuit with a window cut out for their butt? Wait, now I’m thinking it was their boobs again.
1. Rage Against the Machine Announces the Winner of the Pepsi Superfan Walmart Shopping Spree (Presented by Citibank)
“Whoo!” screamed Zack de la Rocha from atop the Mountain Dew Prize-Tank. “Who’s ready to win an awesome shopping spree at Walmart?” What happened next is forever cemented into VMA lore. Tom Morello pulled out what was supposed to be the winning entry from the AT&T Wireless Text 2 Win barrel, but lo and behold, two Dominos 5-5-5 Deal Winner’s Pizza Plaques appeared, miraculously stuck together. A moment of stunned panic washed over the auditorium before de la Rocha, employing his classic “F the Man!” attitude, announced, “Congratulations Brittany Mitchell of Rockford, Illinois AND Michelle Anderson from San Antonio; you’re both getting a shopping spree!”
Let’s just say, the corporate powers-that-be were not happy with that one.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 23, 2013