Best: Rihanna, Take One
The Video Music Awards have reveled in MTV's ability to wrangle A-list stars for surprises. Sunday night's show started off with a fairly big one: Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient Rihanna would be celebrating her lifetime-achievement Moonman with not one, not two, but four performances culled from her formidable catalog. Illuminated by pink lights that made the stage, and her outfit, seem inspired by spun sugar, the 28-year-old opened the 32nd running of the VMAs with the urgent "Don't Stop The Music" — which, perhaps not coincidentally, samples the "Soul Makossa"-inspired breakdown from Jackson's 1983 "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" single. While Rihanna's freewheeling attitude extended to her giving up on lipsyncing at certain points, the infectious medley of her most banging club tracks — which also included "Only Girl (In The World)," "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been" — got the VMAs off to a high-energy start.