9. Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and the Twerk Seen 'Round the World (2013)
Putting together the two most controversial pop stars of the year is pretty much Peak VMA, although the particular combination of the gleefully provocative Miley Cyrus and the then-loucher-by-the-minute Robin Thicke pressed a lot of buttons. Cyrus's continued appropriation of "twerking," the age difference between the gyrating Cyrus and the Beetlejuiced-up Thicke, the wandering vocal pitch of both, the set's "porn parody of a high school talent show" feel and the abuse of a foam finger kept the music media scratching its head for weeks. The incident has remained so ingrained in some peoples' minds that it's already inspired one finger-wagging organization, the Parents Television Council, to ask MTV to keep the 2014 ceremony clean. The PTC counts Cyrus's dad Billy Ray among its advisory board members, so you know they're serious.