With enough talent and gumption, performers can cement their icon statuses at the MTV Video Music Awards.
These singers-turned-legends blew expectations away on their very first tries at conquering the awards ceremony stage, where fans expect them to be everything but boring.
Madonna‘s now-iconic “Like a Virgin” performance stole the show at the first-ever MTV VMAs in 1984.
After the network banned them from performing “Rape Me,” the band began their first and only performance at the awards by teasing a few chords of the song. The antics continued at the end of the performance of “Lithium” as Kurt Cobain climbed over equipment, Krist Novoselic nursed the head wound he gave himself with his bass and Dave Grohl took to the mic to taunt Axl Rose, who had been feuding with band.
1999: Britney Spears
The princess of pop made her VMAs debut alongside ‘NSYNC in 1999. She kicked off the performance on a school-themed set with her smash hit, “Baby One More Time.”
The 2017 Video Vanguard Award recipient put on her first solo VMAs act (she previously performed alongside her “Moulin Rouge” crew) in 2002 with “Just Like a Pill.”
Bey descended on the stage upside down to perform a medley of tracks from her first solo album, Dangerously in Love. The singer’s now-husband JAY-Z joined her onstage for their collaboration “Crazy in Love.”
2004: Kanye West
The rapper began his VMAs performance career with a medley of songs from The College Dropout, including “Jesus Walks” and “Through the Wire.”
2009: Lady Gaga
Jaws dropped as Gaga finished her explosive 2009 performance of “Paparazzi” fake blood-soaked and hanging from a rope.
2009: Taylor Swift
The 2017 MTV Video Music Awards will air Sunday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.