The VMAs are this weekend, and sometimes (everytime) the powerhouse performances get overshadowed by controvery. For that reason, all gimmicky VMA performances have been excluded from this round-up (indecent exposure, girl-on-girl frenching, interrupting performers, snakes, fake blood) to focus just on the talent. Find the Top Five after the jump.
5. “Oops I Did It Again” by Britney Spears, 2000
'Member back when Britney Spears was smokin' hot–back before the gal went crazy and shaved her head and started driving around with her tots on her lap? We do, and so do the VMAs. Wait for the big reveal around 1:05 and compare Spears' bumping and grinding to the half-assed arm flails in her 2010 performance of “Hold it Against Me” on GMA and ask yourself–what happened, Brit?
4. “Vogue” by Madonna, 1990
There's something nice about Madonna's minimalistic Mary Antoinette-inspired performance–it allows the performer to focus on her without being blinded by lights. It's not like the Queen of Pop needs smoke and mirrors to put on a show.
3. A TIE: Chris Brown songs and Rihanna's “Umbrella” by Chris Brown and Rihanna from 2007 and “Runaway” by Kanye West from 2010
Chris Brown is a piece of shit for what he did to Rihanna, but for the sake of journalistic integrity, I gotta include their 2007 collab on this round-up. Breezy can dance, and Rihanna's entrance in front of that checkered background is dynamite (just look at those curves). Performance starts around the :52 second mark, after Rosario finishes talking.
West's 2010 VMAs performance suggests that the rapper–though not famed for his use of restraint (he's definitely an ass for taking Taylor Swift's spotlight the year prior)–is actually capable of making something great with very little. The bold colors makes Yeezy and his ballerinas pop against the all-white stage, as the girls flutter around him like nervous butterflies.
3. A Michael Jackson tribute performance by Janet Jackson in 2009
A tear-wrenching performance by sister Janet — obviously, talent runs in the family.
1. A Michael Jackson Medley from 1995
The below medley includes bits from “Beat It”, “Bille Jean” and “Don't Stop Till You Get Enough” (among others). Jackson's charisma and energy is gripping. R.I.P. King of Pop.
1. A medley by Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland
Come back to music, JT.
2. “Lithium” by Nirvana from 1992
Kurt Cobain doesn't play by the rules–MTV insisted that Nirvana perform Lithium or Smells Like Teen Spirit, so when Cobain first took the stage, he performed the first few bars of “Rape Me,” just to make MTV execs pee their pants a bit. And who doesn't love a bit of anarchy?