From left: Madonna (1984), Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong (1994), and Beyonce and Jay Z (2004) appear at MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Image: The LIFE Picture Collection, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
By Brian Anthony Hernandez2014-08-22 21:50:53 UTC

LOS ANGELES — Airing for the very first time in 1984, the MTV Video Music Awards redefined how provocative these ceremonies can be when Madonna donned a wedding dress and seduced viewers while singing “Like a Virgin.”

Flash forward to 2014, and we have Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and others, who will attempt to craft a memorable performance on Aug. 24 inside Inglewood’s The Forum that can endure as long as Madonna’s exploit three decades ago.

“The VMAs is founded on a reinvention every year in that it’s going to be something new and different each time,” Garrett English, a longtime VMAs production manager, told Mashable. “We start with creating an environment where artists can stretch themselves creatively. We provide an environment where spontaneity and vibe are the center point of the show.”

Every year brings something that stands out — such as when Miley Cyrus twerked her way into the history books in 2013. But for now let’s flash back 10, 20 and 30 years to relive some of the faces, fashions and fearless performances from the VMAs of yesteryear.

1984 Video Music Awards

When and where: Sept. 14, 1984, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City
Video of the Year: The Cars, “You Might Think”
Memorable moments: Michael Jackson brought film-esque artistry to the nominations with “Thriller,” while Herbie Hancock won the most Moonman statuettes for his “Rockit” video’s robotic effects. Bette Midler and Dan Akroyd served as the inaugural VMA hosts.

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1994 Video Music Awards

When and where: Sept. 8, 1994, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City
Video of the Year: Aerosmith, “Cryin'”
Memorable moments: Michael Jackson locked lips with Lisa Marie Presley to open the show. Before Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s Best Female Video acceptance speech in 2009, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys sabotaged R.E.M.’s Best Director win for “Everybody Hurts” in 1994 by telling viewers that Spike Jonze’s “Sabotage” should have won.

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2004 Video Music Awards

When and where: Aug. 29, 2004, at American Airlines Arena in Miami
Video of the Year: Outkast, “Hey Ya”
Memorable moments: MTV broke tradition by not hosting the VMAs in New York City or Los Angeles. With Miami as the host city, some stars arrived in “Magic City” style on boats and yachts, including Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and Bruce Willis.

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BONUS: 10 Music Videos That Should Have Been Nominated for 2014 MTV VMAs

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