6. Madonna Performs "Like a Virgin," Writhes in a Wedding Dress (1984)
Herbie Hancock won the most MTV Video Music Awards in the show's inaugural year, but it was Madonna who made history. Posed as a life-sized bride figurine on a 17-foot cake, her Madgesty surprised the Radio City Music Hall crowd with "Like a Virgin," the title single (and eventual Hot 100 Number One) from an album still two months away from release. Willing the cameras to marry her for life, the 26-year-old Ms. Ciccone playfully spun, rolled and added a few choice thrusts while draped in the same mix of lace and punk bling — including a "Boy Toy" belt buckle — that would grace her album cover. According to French designer Maripol, her stylist at the time, the performance came from "kind of a vision I had." This idea emerged after the initial plan to sing the song to a full-grown Bengal tiger was scrapped.