MTV VMAs 2011 Preview and Memorable Moments: Britney, Axl, Kurt and Kanye

Posted on 22 August 2011
By Richard Lewis
  • Share:

The most-viewed music awards ceremony in the world is almost upon us and rumours have been circulating for months who is up for gongs and who will perform live.

The MTV Video Music Awards take place this year on August 28, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

The nominees were announced on July 20th with Kanye West receiving the highest number of nominations for the famous Moonman statuette with 11, closely followed by Katy Perry with ten and British singer Adele with seven.

Eight-time 2010 winner and 2011 nominee Lady Gaga will open the ceremony, according to her, ‘topless’, but it is unconfirmed what song she will perform.

Following her show-stealing performance at the BRIT Awards earlier in the year, Adele is also due to perform.

Britney Spears, an artist who has made several memorable appearances at the VMAs, receives the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rumours have also been circulating there will be a tribute to Amy Winehouse at the ceremony, but there are no further details at this stage.

30 Seconds to Mars fly the flag for the rock fraternity with three nominations for their epic Hurricane clip, directed by lead singer Jared Leto.

The presenters of the gongs include reality TV star Kim Kardashian, Green Hornet actor Seth Rogan, hip-hop collective Odd Future and Miami rapper Rick Ross among those opening the envelopes.

Pop star Selena Gomez will also be presenting an award as well as hosting the pre-award show.

The VMAs achieved one of its highest ever audience viewing figures in 2010, which saw Lady Gaga scoop eight awards home for her Beyoncé duet, Telephone.

In view of Britney’s Lifetime Achievement Award due to her memorable appearances at the Awards bash, here are some other occasions when the ceremony got people talking.

Stage invasions, interrupted acceptance speeches and dodgy performances are all present in the awards ceremony second only to the Oscars for worldwide fame.

Memorable MTV Video Music Awards moments

1992: Kurt and Axl Get in the Ring

Nirvana, nominated for Best Alternative Video and Best New Artist were invited to open the VMAs with any song they wanted. Instead of opting for anything from the epochal Nevermind album however, Kurt Cobain decided to debut an unreleased ditty entitled Rape Me.

The MTV top brass refused the band permission to play the song, insisting on either Smells Like Teen Spirit or Lithium.

Refusing to compromise, Cobain was only swayed after MTV threatened to pull all of Nirvana’s videos and blacklist all of the acts on the band’s record company Geffen.

The band reluctantly went ahead with a blistering performance of Lithium, but not before Kurt had played the opening bars of Rape Me, almost causing the network to cut to a commercial.

The performance was also notable for bassist Kris Novoselic launching his guitar into the air, which hit him on the head causing him to stagger offstage.

Kurt then spat on the piano Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose was due to play on later in the show.

A huge argument later erupted backstage between Kurt, his wife Courtney Love, Axl and his then girlfriend, Stephanie Seymour.

1996: Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green phlegm

After blowing out Oasis’ MTV Unplugged gig in London a week before due to wrecked vocal chords following a huge drinking session, Liam failed to make amends at the VMAs bash.

Booked to play US hit Champagne Supernova, Liam refused to play ball, wittily altering the lyrics to ‘A champagne supernova up yer bum’ and making ‘rude gestures’ at Noel during his guitar solo.

The coup de gras however was the ‘spitting rampage’ as one tabloid termed it.

Liam hocked up an extended string of spittle and let it dribble onto the stage floor in full view of the cameras before storming offstage. Outraged, Noel Gallagher split Oasis up shortly after the ceremony.

2000: Limp Bizkit Vs. RATM

Having securing a Moonman for Best Rock Video, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst’s speech was sabotaged by unimpressed Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford. (RATM were also nominated in the category)

Commerford clambered up onto the scaffolding of the set and looked as though he was about to jump on the Bizkit mainman.

Durst egged him on saying ‘Stage dive dude.’ He didn’t and the bassist and his bodyguard both spent a night in the cells.

2001: Britney Does It Again

In her third VMA appearance, Britney Spears’ drew acclaim and controversy in equal measure with her performance of I’m a Slave 4 U.

Animal rights group PETA were incensed when the singer appeared on a jungle themed stage set which included a caged tiger. The singer also strutted round the stage with an albino Burmese python on her shoulders.

2002: Axl Rose debuts new G N’R line-up.

Having seemingly disappeared in the mid 1990s and slowly morphed into the Howard Hughes of rock, Axl Rose returned to the limelight in 2002.

In a performance that was only known about in advance by high-level MTV producers, the new-look Guns N’ Roses took to the stage for the ceremony’s finale.

With only Axl remaining from the original line-up, the public were greeted by the sight of the new Gunners which included decidedly strange new guitarist Buckethead, so-called as his stage attire included the wearing of a KFC Bucket on his head.

Those who understandably hoped that the set was an indication of imminent new material were to be disappointed however as it was to be another six years until comeback album Chinese Democracy was released.

By that time the band had radically changed again, with Buckethead being replaced by the equally inexplicably named new guitarist Bumblefoot.

2007: Britney’s Comeback Falls Flat

After a typically notoriety courting performance at the 2003 VMAs where she kissed Christina Aguilera and Madonna onstage, Britney’s 2007 show-opening was massively hyped by MTV.

The performance spectacularly failed to live up to its promise however, as clearly miming comeback single Gimme More with badly out-of-synch dancing the singer’s performance was described by one journalist as ‘career crippling’

Britney had reportedly jettisoned her costume before taking to the stage, instead appearing only in a bra and panty set.

Kid Rock and Tommy Lee also made a bid for the most talked about incident at the show that year by having a fight during Alicia Keys’ performance later on in the evening.

2008: Russell Brand disses Dubya

One of the few years the ceremony was hosted by a non-American, Russell Brand put himself on the map in the States by calling current President George W. Bush a ‘retarded cowboy’ who ‘wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors in Britain’.

Dubya declined to comment on this smear on his character.

Brand did do his bit for Anglo-American relations on the night however, propositioning future wife Katy Perry from the stage.

2009: Kanye West doesn’t let Taylor Swift finish.

In one of the most infamous (and most parodied) events at the awards ceremony, Kanye West voiced his disapproval of Taylor Swift scooping the gong for Best Female Video by interrupting halfway through her acceptance speech.

Barging past security, West grabbed the mike from the teenage country singer and stated, ‘Yo, Tay, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!’

West was booed loudly and faced a barrage of criticism from viewers and fellow nominees over the stunt.

When Beyonce won the Best Video Award later in the ceremony for Single Ladies, she called Swift back onstage to ‘have her moment’.

President Barck Obama was roundly unimpressed with Kayne West’s antics, calling him a ‘jackass’ in an off-the-record comment the next day.

The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards is held on Sunday August 28th.