3. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2002)
Nearly a year after 9/11, the VMAs were once again held in New York. And to strike a somber note before getting the party started, the 2002 broadcast opened with a performance by rock's poet laureate, Bruce Springsteen. Backed by the reformed and renewed E Street Band, the Boss performed the title track of his recent 9/11-inspired album The Rising, giving a powerful gospel uplift to a night that otherwise belonged to the likes of Eminem and Justin Timberlake.