Award shows are highly anticipated for a number of reasons. The red carpet fashion, the live musical numbers, and the chance to view the entertainment industry’s leading performers all in one place. However, despite the excessive amount of planning and hoping the show goes off without a hitch, it always seems that uninvited moments crash the party.
The Oscars and the VMAs are notorious for producing either shocking or embarrassing moments. Whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a blunt interruption of an acceptance speech, jaw-dropping moments seem to have become inevitable. While some shows are prerecorded and edited before national broadcasting, the unscripted moments still find a way to hit the media airways. In cases where the incidents do in fact occur live, they are more scandalous in regards to the instant reactions of the audience members. Even the acts that are scripted by performers still produce gasps and speechless expressions.
With live television, there is an open invitation for flubs. Despite the embarrassment and conflict that can occur in the aftermath, many wouldn’t object to admitting that the occurrence of the unexpected is just another reason to tune in. It’s not always about who is going to win what award. It’s about which actor or singer without a filter is going to say something they probably shouldn’t or which celebrity is going to wear the most bizarre outfit.
Without further ado, here are the 15 most jaw-dropping award show moments. And the winners are…
15. Beyoncé Announces Her Pregnancy
While there were whispers and speculation about a baby Carter on the way, Beyoncé and Jay Z remained tight-lipped on the rumors until the 29-year-old singer arrived at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Wearing a long orange flowy gown, Beyoncé debuted her baby bump, making an official announcement. Fans went crazy as Queen Bee continued to walk the red carpet while clutching her visible bump. The announcement prior to the show, however, was overthrown by her stellar performance of “Love On Top”, where she delivered an act that proved the mother-to-be could still bring down the house. Concluding her number, Beyoncé proudly ripped open her jacket to rub her growing bump. The audience proceeded to join in on the excitement as cameras showed Kanye West happily patting his best friend and father-to-be, Jay Z, on the back. The congratulatory moment was well-received and shared among fellow artists and fans alike as one of the music industry’s leading power couples officially announced the growth of their family.
14. Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress
Lady Gaga is infamous for turning heads with eccentric red carpet and street style outfits, but it was her 2010 MTV Video Music Awards “dress” that had critics questioning her fashion choices. The American singer showed up to the show in an Alexander McQueen dress, but then changed for the third time that evening into a dress completely decked out in raw beef. A matching hat, boots, and purse were additionally covered in meat. The excessive amount of attention received from her outfit had media referring to it as the ‘meat dress’. Gaga explained that the dress was a symbol for standing up for what you believe in, “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.” While Time claimed it to be the top fashion statement of 2010, the Franc Fernandez dress was chastised by animal rights groups. After being preserved as jerky by taxidermists, the infamous dress went on to be displayed in 2001 at the Rock and Roll Hall exhibit.
13. Angelina Jolie’s Sibling Love
Actress Angelina Jolie is no rookie when it comes to grabbing the attention of several media outlets. In fact, the mother of six is currently at the height of the public eye with her high-profile divorce from actor Brad Pitt. But over a decade ago, Jolie received attention for the infamous kiss that she shared with her brother James Haven at the 2000 Academy Awards. Their Oscars lip lock clearly shocked many. Not knowing how to receive the incident, cameras continued to flash capturing the siblings. The embrace sparked an outcry and their close relationship was questioned once jaws were picked up from the red carpet. Haven later stated that the moment shared with his sister was misconstrued. Despite the backlash, the siblings remained close and have been seen together at various events over the years.
12. Britney Spears Wears A Snake
Britney Spears is notorious for her compelling performances combining her talents of singing and dancing as the audience watches in awe. But it was her 2001 MTV Video Music Awards number that had jaws dropping for more than just her risky choreography. During her “I’m a Slave 4 U” production, an albino Burmese python was placed on Spears’ shoulders as she continued to dance and sing about on stage. However, the snake wasn’t the only exotic animal that was featured during her performance. A white tiger made an appearance as well, much to the distaste of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization. While the audience sat in amazement as the pop-star donned a large python around her neck, PETA was outraged for the inclusion of the animals. Despite the criticism, many were impressed and slightly squeamish at her decision to not only include the animals, but interact with them up close. Needless to say, it marked another iconic performance for the pop singer and documented that Kevin Federline wasn’t the only snake she got tangled up with.
11. Jennifer Lawrence Takes A Spill
Accepting an Oscar for Best Actress is a dream come true for many hopefuls, however, in Jennifer Lawrence’s case tripping and falling up the steps while on the way to receive her award wasn’t in the plans. Appearing to be stunned with her win for her work in Silver Linings Playbook, the 22-year-old actress tripped on her Dior Haute Couture grown which caused her to fall and nearly miss hitting her face on the steps. Taking a brief moment to collect herself by placing her head in her hands, Lawrence righted herself and continued making her way on stage to accept her accomplishment. The actress’ former co-stars Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman rushed to help Lawrence, but the quirky actress laughed off her antics once the trophy was in her hands. The star-studded audience gifted Lawrence with a standing ovation, to which the actress replied, “This is nuts. You guys are only standing up because I fell and you feel bad. That was embarrassing.”
10. Ellen DeGeneres Breaks Twitter
While the 83rd Oscars was a complete flop with James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts, the show finally hit the jackpot when Ellen DeGeneres took the stage. DeGeneres’ outstanding comedic abilities and overall charm was the perfect recipe to host the iconic show in 2014. With a strict no-food policy at the Oscars, DeGeneres decided to feed the hungry actors with a surprise pizza delivery which was greatly appreciated. Although her monologues and hijinks were incredibly well-received, it was her group selfie with the biggest names in Hollywood that completed her successful gig. With the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, and Meryl Streep in the frame, DeGeneres tweeted the iconic picture that had an astonishing acceptance on social media. In just one hour, the photo became one of the most-retweeted pictures of all time. DeGeneres’ epic ‘twitpic’ was also crowned for “breaking” the social media platform for a brief period as the picture was constantly being retweeted and proceeded to disrupt the service for just shy of half an hour.
9. Reese Witherspoon Throws Shade On Kim Kardashian
Despite often being referred to as America’s Sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon isn’t afraid to talk trash to prove a point. The beloved Legally Blonde actress used her moment while accepting a Generation Award at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards urging young girls not to follow in the path of certain celebrities. The Oscar winning actress told the crowd, “I get it girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl. But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show.” Clearly the words were a dig at the Kim Kardashian clan who have built a fortune on their reality show, Keeping Up with The Kardashians. Witherspoon furthered the diss by stating that when she started in the industry, sex tapes were an embarrassment and were hidden under the bed rather than using them as a catalyst for fame. Jaws dropped at her blunt words, but no one had to question who she was throwing shade on. In that moment, audiences were finally able to comprehend that the successful blonde actress was over Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton’s rise to fame despite their lack of talent.
8. Best Kiss Reenactment
Remember when Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams took their on-screen love affair and made it real? Despite being a little over a decade ago, McAdams was the envy of every female when she and Gosling gave a sexy kissing performance live at the 2005 MTV Video Movie Awards. After winning the Best Kiss award, the co-stars, and then real life couple, laid it on thick while accepting their award. As they stood on opposite ends of the stage, Gosling and McAdams magnetically moved towards one another as they reenacted the iconic kissing scene between their The Notebook characters, all while Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’ played in the background. Swoon. Once the kiss concluded, Gosling continued to hold McAdams in his arms as they gave their appreciation speech. Every member in the audience wore a smile a mile wide as cameras panned to receive their reactions. It was no question that McAdams was the luckiest woman in the room and that no other Best Kiss Award acceptance speech could ever top that performance.
7. Miley Cyrus’ Shocking Twerk
Miley Cyrus has come a long way since her Hannah Montana days. In fact, it’s difficult to even image the blonde being a part of a Disney Channel hit show. Despite her once innocent nature, Cyrus erased all signs of her once wholesome image with her performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards. When Cyrus took the stage and proceeded to straddle a large teddy bear with her tongue out, it was clear that Hannah Montana was officially dead and Miley 2.0 was very much alive. Her “We Can’t Stop” performance was enough to even scare Will Smith and his family has they sat stunned in the audience. But Cyrus didn’t stop there. She joined Robin Thicke on stage and grinded and twerked her way through “Blurred Lines”— with her tongue out of course. As her final act of the night, Cyrus ruined any future usage of foam fingers at a sporting event. The reaction of the audience was priceless as everyone in the room looked in horror as she rubbed “herself” with the giant foam finger— childhood ruined.
6. Britney Spears And Madonna Lock Lips
The 2003 MTV’s Video Music Awards opened with three of the industry’s most influential pop artists; Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna. The pop sensations collaborated on Madonna’s hit single “Like a Virgin”. While Spears and Aguilera pranced around wearing tiny “wedding dresses”, Madonna rocked a black leather number as they wowed the audience with their vocal and dance abilities. However, their stage presence was quickly forgotten when in the middle of their act, Madonna planted one on Spears after brushing a piece of hair from her face. The cameras quickly flashed to Spears’ ex Justin Timberlake for his reaction. Like the rest of the audience and fans watching at home, his face wore a look of shock. While Madonna also kissed Aguilera during the same performance, it was her lip lock with Spears that gathered the most talk. Thirteen years following that jaw-dropping moment, that incident continues to be brought up as the VMAs embark closer to their annual show.
5. Jennifer Lawrence Declares “I beat Meryl”
Jennifer Lawrence quickly became a household name over night with her quirky sense of humor and down-to-earth persona. However, her 2013 Golden Globes acceptance speech left many questioning The Hunger Games actress’ choice of words. When the 22-year-old accepted her award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Silver Linings Playbook, she took a look at her trophy and asked, “What does it say? ‘I beat Meryl’”. While the actress was just quoting from the First Wives Club, many were surprised to hear the scandalous Lawrence roast one of the world’s most beloved actresses, Meryl Streep. Fans were quick to defend her words as the actress merely reenacted Bette Midler’s character’s line, but in the moment, audiences were too shocked to piece the joke together. Lawrence paying homage to a line from a film was ironically ill-received at the Oscars, but despite the incident, the actress got in the last laugh while appearing on the Late Show stating, “Hey idiots, it’s a quote. From a movie.”
4. Nicki Minaj Calls Out Miley Cyrus
From the amount of shocking moments that have occurred at MTV’s Video Music Awards, it’s safe to assume that, by now, everyone is waiting for something to go down during the show. The 2015 VMAs were no different, especially with a scantily clad Miley Cyrus as host. But Cyrus’ barely-there outfits were overshadowed by her feud with Nicki Minaj. Despite ending the bad blood with Taylor Swift prior to the show, Minaj still had a bone to pick with another pop star. When accepting her award for Best Hip-Hop Video, the 33-year-old rapper thanked her pastor before going in on an unsuspecting Cyrus. Minaj concluded her speech with, “Let’s get back to this b***h who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?” The reaction from the audience was a mixture of shock and excitement as they were sure a first ever VMA fight was about to go down. However, Cyrus remained calm and congratulated Minaj before saying her previous comments about the rapper to the press was just a result of the media twisting her words. While Minaj’s words held venom, many believed that the spat was scripted in order to add drama and increase views. Whether real or not, this infamous moment will join the ranks of the VMAs’ shocking live incidents.
3. John Travolta Butchers Idina Menzel’s Name
Critics will never let it go that John Travolta had one of the most embarrassing moments on live television when he proceeded to butcher Idina Menzel’s name. When introducing her at the 2014 Oscars, he accidentally called her ‘Adele Dazeem’ right before her performance of the Academy Award winning original song “Let It Go”. Social media was abuzz with people poking fun at Travolta’s flub. An array of memes and vines flooded the internet with additional celebrity mispronunciations that gave way to the ‘John Travolta name generator’. While media platforms found ways to make light of the situation, Menzel took the moment in stride as well. Following the viral incident, the 42-year-old singer admitted, “That threw me for a minute, but then I just got back on track and reminded myself where I was.” Shaking off the flub, Menzel delivered the awe-inspiring anthem of her Frozen character Queen Elsa and for just a brief moment, Travolta’s cringe-worthy introduction was forgotten. Well, at least until another joke was published on Twitter.
2. Britney Spears’ Comeback Performance
Despite being the main winner of the night by racking up three Moonmen for Video of the Year, Best Female Video, and Best Pop Video, Britney Spears had a rocky performance. Kicking off the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was supposed to be a triumphant comeback for the pop star who suffered a difficult previous year. However, the “Gimme More” performance fell flat with awkward dance movements and a terribly fitted costume. It wasn’t hard to miss the cringe-worthy response from the audience with Spears’ unkempt appearance. While Spears has a history of being involved in jaw-dropping award show moments, this specific act failed to entertain. Once known for her ability to captivate audiences with her showmanship, many viewers noted it appeared as if the stage was the last place Spears wanted to be. In typical fashion, many artists gave their input on the blonde’s comeback and all seemed optimistic about her attempt to relaunch her career. Looking back, it’s clear that although the performance was a rough one, it didn’t hinder her successful comeback.
1. Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will forever be known as the start of the seemingly never-ending feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. When the country-pop sensation was delivering her acceptance speech for Best Female Video, West bombarded the stage and unapologetically stole both the microphone and her moment. Unhappy that Swift’s “You Belong with Me” beat Beyoncé’s iconic “Single Ladies”, the rapper proceeded to announce “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” The sheer look of disbelief not only radiated across Swift’s face, but Beyoncé’s and fellow artists in the audience as well. After being booed off stage, West shrugged off his protest and promptly handed Swift back the microphone as if nothing had happened. Following the controversial interruption, various celebrities spoke out regarding the incident and condemned West for his actions. While he offered weak apologies throughout the years, Swift found peace doing what she always does when her heart gets broken; writing a song about it.