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While it’s true my brain is filled with approximately 75% VMA knowledge and 25% mush, I still knew that I needed to do some research when it came to this project. The Best VMA Performances ever? I wasn’t even born when the first show aired! So down the rabbit hole of YouTube I went.

Photos: The 50 Craziest VMA Outfits of All Time

While some of these might not surprise you, I can guarantee I will get at least one complaint about “The Kiss” not being included. (You know the one.)

Photos: The VMAs, Then & Now

Why? BECAUSE THE WHOLE THING CANNOT CONSIST OF BRITNEY SPEARS, OKAY, PEOPLE!? These are not the most memorable, perhaps — but I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. Without further ado, here are simply the best MTV Video Music Awards performances ever:

Madonna rolls around on the floor in a wedding dress while singing “Like a Virgin” in 1984:

Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora sing an acoustic set of “Livin’ On A Prayer & “Wanted Dead or Alive” in 1989:

Michael Jackson performs a 15-minute medley of his biggest hits in 1995:

Sting joins Diddy (at that time known as Puff Daddy), Faith Evans, and 112 for their ode to Notorious BIG, “I’ll Be Missing You”, in 1997:

Pras, Mya, & Ol’ Dirty Bastard perform one of the year’s biggest hits, “Ghetto Superstar” on stage in 1998 — Bonus points to Pras & Mya for killer leather ensembles and ODB for his chosen accessory, orange juice. (Performance starts at 3:25 mark):

Love a medley! Kid Rock sings “Bawitaba” before he’s joined onstage by Run DMC & Aerosmith to sing “Walk This Way”:

*NSYNC & Britney Spears put pop music back on the map with “It’s Tearin’ Up My Heart” & “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in 1999:

And while she may have performed with a snake the next year, Brit‘s “Oops I Did it Again” & “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” mashup in 2000 was her best performance ever:

Awkward! Eminem name-checked Britney, Christina Aguilera, Carson Daly, Fred Durst & countless others in the audience when he brought hundreds of lookalikes onstage with him as he performed “The Real Slim Shady” & “The Way I Am” in  2000:

It’s all about Ja Rule‘s Burberry bucket hat in this performance of “I’m Real” with Jennifer Lopez in 2001:

Lady Gaga slays “Paparazzi” in 2009 — You know it’s an iconic performance when you can hear the audience collectively gasp”

Aside from the baby announcement made by Beyonce immediately following “Love on Top” in 2011, it’s the octave changes in the last half of the song that get me every time. Also the mic drop:

And finally, Miley. Oh Miley—Now it’s time for the show-stopper that launched a million GIFS (and, yes, Beetlejuice references). This performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards will go down in history as the single moment we forgot Hannah Montana ever existed in the first place:

Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite VMA performance of all time? Share in the comments or tweet @OKMagazine.

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