25 Facts About The VMAs That Will Make You Feel Nerdy And Nostalgic All At Once

A mix of not-so-well-known info, firsts, crunched numbers, and WTFs.

The 33rd annual MTV Video Music Awards will air on Sunday, August 28 at 9 p.m. Eastern. 

We're eager to see who wins the new Breakthrough Long Form Video category, as well as some of the technical awards, and we can't wait to shake it during music's most unpredictable night. And while the best-case scenario would be to enjoy the festivities with pop princess Britney Spears, we're more than OK tuning in at home with friends.

If you've got a party planned, we've compiled a slew of fun details about MTV's first 32 VMAs. You can feel free to drop this knowledge during the snoozy portions of the broadcast (may we suggest during the banter before a Moonman is handed out?). Not only will you be flexing your music nerd muscle for good, you'll also be sprinkling in some nostalgic notes that will impress your friends.

Just try to be humble.

Let's get to it:

1. Gwen Stefani is the only artist to win both Best Male and Best Female Videos — scoring through guest spots on songs by DJ Moby ("Southside") and rapper Eve ("Let Me Blow Ya Mind") in 2001.

2. Justin Timberlake has performed at the VMAs the most consecutive years, having notched three big-stage numbers as a member of *NSYNC (1999-2001) and one as a solo artist (2002).


One of JT’s most memorable numbers came when *NSYNC shared the stage with Britney Spears in 1999 to perform “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and “... Baby One More Time,” respectively. Check them out here:

3. Arsenio Hall has hosted the VMAs more than anyone else with four consecutive stints as emcee (1988-1991). Chris Rock follows with three (1997, 1999 and 2003).

4. Rapper DMX was supposed to perform at the 1999 and 2000 VMAs, but played hooky both times, leaving Jay Z to perform solo in '99 and allowing Nelly to take the big stage in '00.

5. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" did not win Video of the Year when it was nominated in 1984. That honor went to The Cars' "You Might Think."

6. Eminem, Missy Elliott, and Rihanna have each won Video of the Year twice, though Eminem is the only one to earn his wins without guest stars.

7. Madonna (1984, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1998, and 2003) and Justin Timberlake (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2013) have each performed seven times at the VMAs — more than any other artists. Beyoncé, Jay Z, Britney Spears, Green Day, and Aerosmith have each taken the stage five times.

Perhaps Madonna’s most iconic VMA performance came in 1990, with a Victorian Era-styled number for “Vogue.”

8. MTV's VJs hosted the 1986 and 1987 ceremonies, key among them being "Downtown" Julie Brown and Dweezil Zappa.

9 The VMAs have had no official host during five ceremonies: 2004, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

10. Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and Lady Gaga have each won two consecutive Best Female Video awards.

11. No Doubt (thrice) and TLC (twice) are the only two groups to win Best Group Video more than once.

12. The VMAs have been held in four cities: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas.

13. To date, Madonna is the VMAs biggest all-time winner, having racked up 20 wins. Beyoncé is second with 18 Moonmen.

14. Michael Penn — whose last notable chart appearance was in 1992 — won Best New Artist in 1990, beating out such acts as Bell Biv DeVoe, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Stansfield, and The Black Crowes.

Reminisce with the clip to Michael Penn’s hit song, “No Myth.”

15. Roseanne Barr became the first woman to go it alone as host of the VMAs in 1994. Another woman wouldn't emcee the show again until 2010, when Chelsea Handler handled the honors.

16. Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" is the most lauded music video at the VMAs, pulling in nine Moonmen in 1987.

17. David Fincher and Spike Jonze are tied for most wins in the Best Direction category, with three apiece.

18. Three winners in the Best Direction category belong to Madonna, for "Express Yourself," "Vogue," and "Ray of Light." Both "Express Yourself" and "Vogue" were directed by David Fincher, who also won for Justin Timberlake's 2013 video, "Suit & Tie."

19. Three artists have scored wins as directors/co-directors of their music videos, including George Michael for "Father Figure," Erykah Badu for "Honey," and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys for the group's "Make Some Noise."

20. David Fincher received three of four nominations for Best Direction in 1990. His clips included Madonna's "Vogue," Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun," and Don Henley's "The End of Innocence." 

21. Look, we didn't count, but we're pretty sure Beyoncé had the most dancers onstage during her 2009 performance of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)."

Check out Beyoncé's performance here:

22. Miley Cyrus is the most recent artist to host the VMAs, following a string of other singer-hosts that includes Jack Black, Diddy, Jamie Foxx, Bette Midler, and Eddie Murphy. (Wait, Eddie Murphy sings? Oh, does he EVER!)

23. Thanks in part to collaborations, Lil Jon (2004), Nicki Minaj (2014), and Rihanna (2007 and 2008) have each performed multiple times within a single VMAs show.

24. Three of Janet Jackson's videos earned Moonmen for choreography in 1987, 1988, and 1990, specifically "Nasty," "The Pleasure Principle," and "Rhythm Nation," respectively. 

25. Coincidentally, Paula Abdul — who choreographed Janet Jackson's "Nasty" — scored the choreography award in 1989 for the video to her song, "Straight Up." 

Cover image via Dooley Productions / Shutterstock.com


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