Without a doubt, two of the most controversial/important artists to grace the stage at the VMAs, are Madonna and Michael Jackson. These two artists helped define music videos, and two of the most respected artists at this award show.
In the shows first year, 1984, Madonna crawled all over the stage in her bustier/wedding gown claiming she was "Like a Virgin." This moment not only helped solidify the award shows future theme, but helped launch Madonna even further.
In 1988 Michael Jackson performed for the first time ever on this award show; he was the most celebrated musician at the time, and his videos were already getting more recognition than any other artist in just a few short years, from Thriller to Bad this guy knew the power of the music video. During this ceremony he won the Video Vanguard Award.
Back to Madonna again (she has had many fun moments at this show) one of the best was her thanking Pepsi when she the now obsolete Viewer's Choice awards in 1989. The Material Girl was canned by Pepsi for the strong/controversial video "Like a Prayer" which Pepsi decided to help launch the video, that's how big music videos used to be. The Viewer's Choice award was actually sponsored by Pepsi, irony of all ironies., and help her come full circle with her goal to win out over the soft drink company. Her performance of Express Yourself also helped kick off one of her most popular tours ever The Blonde Ambition Tour.
The birth of the cone bra helped further put Madonna on the map as that out there edgy pop icon in 1990. During her 18th Century style performance of her song "Vogue" Madonna and her corset dressed dancers made one of the coolest videos come to life with one of the most unique VMA performances ever.
One year later in 1991, the Video Vanguard Award was renamed the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Michael made such an important impact on music videos that this award honored his legacy as not only the "King of Pop" but as the King of the music video. This name provided validation to a legacy that would eventually become tarnished.
Both 1994 and 1995 were interesting years for MJ at this award show. In 1994 MJ stepped out with Lisa Marie Pressley announcing their love and sharing one awkward ass kiss, twas the kiss that he wanted to be seen around the world. Watching the "King of Rock's" daughter smooch the "King of Pop" was interesting.
Michael Jackson's performance in 1995 was what had everyone talking; he put on a 15 minute performance for his song "Scream" with his sister Janet, and "Black and White." Scream" was one of the best of the decade, and the performance while long showed people this guy still had it in him to move. This was a performance so memorable the paid tribute to this after he passed in 2009.
As the years passed these two remained part of the show more so as icons brought back to the stage to become part of the future generation of music's night. Michael Jackson showed up in 2001 to be part of the end of N'Sync's performance of their song "Pop" where he dance his heart out. In 2003 Madonna returned to be the groom at her "wedding" singing "Like a Virgin and "Hollywood" with her brides Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera (Missy Elliot played another groom), and the three way kiss between Madonna, Brit, and Christina became one of the most talked about moments ever on the VMAs!
These two artists have provided some of the most entertaining moments at the VMAs, but they have also provided some of the most creative videos, and are two of the most nominated artists/winners in VMA history. Madonna is the reigning champ with the most wins; she has 20 wins including one Video of the Year for "Ray of Light" and the most wins in the Best Female Video category with 3 for "Take a Bow" "Ray of Light" and "Papa Don't Preach." While Jackson only has 8, and shockingly "Thriller did not win Video of the Year; he is still regarded as the King of the music video, a title no one can take away. Here's to hoping that tonight's show can provide some new entertainment.