MTV V.M.A.s Most Memorable Moments: Event Planners Share Their Top Picks

From standout set design to provocative performances, planners reveal what has impressed them about the annual show.

MTV's Video Music Awards are known for being racy and often controversial. Last year Miley Cyrus's performance delivered plenty of buzz—and complaints.
MTV's Video Music Awards are known for being racy and often controversial. Last year Miley Cyrus's performance delivered plenty of buzz—and complaints.
Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to award shows, the MTV Video Music Awards stand out from the competition by consistently providing viewers with a handful of jaw-dropping moments. Just like the average viewer, event planners buzz about the show’s often-innovative performances, but they also play closer attention to the production and design behind the annual event. Here’s what some industry pros had to say when reliving the V.M.A.s' most memorable moments:

“I’ll always remember the very first Video Music Awards show, when Madonna, costumed in a wedding gown, entered the stage on a giant wedding cake, upon which she proceeded to sing (and graphically act out) her hit song 'Like a Virgin.' At that moment, I knew the unassuming innocence of music award shows like the Grammys and American Music Awards would soon be history.”
Bob Glickman, president, Glickman Productions

“In 2009, I was producing an event in Midtown, and I was walking by Radio City Music Hall and got to witness the rehearsal of Taylor Swift coming off the subway and dancing on a New York City cab. I remember turning to a young woman and asking, ‘Who is that?’ and she commented, ‘That’s Taylor Swift,’ and then I rebutted, ‘Don’t know her…” I was pretty impressed with that kind of sequence for a live taping.”
Chris Gasbarro, chief creative officer, C3

“Eminem’s performance of 'The Real Slim Shady' in 2000 is iconic for a reason. The volume of hundreds of 'Slim Shady' look-alikes is a visual wow. Just coordinating the hair color and wardrobe would be challenging, not to mention wrangling them into place before show time.”
Cassie Brown, chief experience officer, TCG Events

“My favorite set designs from the music party of the year came from German-born designer Florian Wieder, during 2010 through 2012. Particularly in 2012, when Wieder, inspired by the skyline of Dubai, brought cutting-edge technology to the forefront of the show by adding projected images, monstrous LED screens, LED cylinders, 3-D sculpted images, crystalline canopies with changing colors, multiple performance areas throughout the massive space, and one of the most powerful centerpieces of all time was the deconstructed pyramid that looked like bangles of diamond shapes, which Wieder dubbed ‘broken glass.’ In 2011, Wieder took home an Emmy for outstanding art direction for variety, music, or nonfiction programming for the 2010 MTV V.M.A. show."
Janice Cardinale, owner, the Idea Hunter

“I think the best design in past few years was at the 2010 V.M.A.s when Moss Inc. built the fabric structure emulating a sleek mid-century modern design.  It was a perfect canvas for moving lights and projection to work their magic on.”
Tony Schubert, chief executive officer, Event Eleven

“For me, the most memorable moment for the MTV Video Music Awards show was in 2004 in Miami, Florida. However, it didn't take place inside the American Airlines Arena. Our company Platinum Events was hired to produce numerous events, including staging the waters outside of the arena. Lining the marina with boats and creating large boat parties, only to give segue for the arrival of P. Diddy's mega yacht!”
Justin Jacobson, president, Platinum Strategic Marketing & Events

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