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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12. The Smashing Pumpkins (1996)

"Tonight, Tonight," a gorgeous song about impermanence aptly reflected the turmoil tearing the Smashing Pumpkins apart from within in 1996. In the months leading up to the show, a fan was crushed to death during a show in Dublin, and keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin overdosed on heroin together. Melvoin died, and Chamberlin was fired after his arrest for possession. With new drummer Matt Walker crisply leading the rhythm section and a live string section providing sumptuous and dramatic fills, the band made "Tonight, Tonight" an assertion of rock dominance that would soon be in their rear view.

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