20 Best MTV VMAs Opening Performances

Michael Jackson, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and more: Who kicked it off the best?

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6. Janet Jackson (1990)

MTV's Video Vanguard Award is the VMA equivalent of a lifetime achievement award, and even though Janet Jackson — the 1990 recipient — had only been a substantial presence on the channel for three years, she made a huge mark with her hyper-precise dance moves, stylized videos and songs that celebrated female empowerment. Before receiving her Moonman at the 1990 show, she opened the festivities with a rip-roaring performance of her scalding Rhythm Nation 1814 track "Black Cat," showing off her ability to channel the feline sensibility before ripping open her crisp white button-down to reveal a black bra, much to the audience's surprise.

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