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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4. Puff Daddy feat. Sting, Faith Evans and 112 (1997)

Mourning the loss of friend and associate the Notorious B.I.G., Sean "Puffy" Combs rush-released "I'll Be Missing You," which crams together "Adagio for Strings" from Platoon, traditional spiritual "I'll Fly Away," and the Police's biggest hit, "Every Breath You Take." To adequately recreate the anthem, Puffy invited everyone he possibly could — save Police guitarist Andy Summers — for a huge hip-hop production number. It has been reported that Sting initially wasn't consulted to clear the song's central sample, but everything seemed copacetic when he took the stage in September, and he inventively layered falsetto into the arrangement and mashed it up into his own tune. The widowed Faith Evans sang beautifully backed by a gospel choir, 112 got choice bars of harmony before all was said and done and video of B.I.G. played on a huge screen in the back. It was one time Puffy gladly ceded the spotlight.

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