Best and worst moments of the Video Music Awards. From Britney and Madonna's kiss to Metallica's cover-band stint, here's what was worth talking about

By Brian Hiatt
Updated August 29, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Britney Spears and Madonna: Kevin Kane/

Best and worst moments of the Video Music Awards

Oops! Just when you thought there was no one left in Hollywood that Madonna hadn’t kissed, MTV provided a brand new, cross-generational wet dream: The Material Mom and a barely clad Britney Spears doing the open-mouth deed. Their center-stage snog (oh yeah, they also sang) may have been the most memorable moment of Thursday night’s 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, but there were plenty of others to celebrate and revile:


BRITNEY, MADONNA, CHRISTINA, and MISSY It hardly mattered that Madonna sang a squeaky, off-tune rendition of her non-hit single ”Hollywood.” At the VMAs, spectacle always trumps music — and the sight of rival pop tarts Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears putting their differences aside to share soul kisses and gyrations with Mrs. Guy Ritchie certainly qualified. The close-up of the 45-year-old Madonna locking lips with the 21-year-old Spears was an indelible MTV moment — sexy, vaguely transgressive, and as meaningless as it was entertaining. Plus, both younger stars actually sounded good on ”Like A Virgin.”

CHRIS ROCK Yeah, the leather-jacket loving comic bombed with his first joke (he said that the 20-year-old MTV would soon be old enough to start watching VH1). But that was his only major misfire (aside from falsely stating that no rapper has beef with Eminem — just ask Ja Rule). The seemingly fearless Rock spent the night speaking truth to Hollywood powerhouses, from Ashton Kutcher (described as ”literally a motherf—er”) to ”American Idol” (”Having Paula Abdul judge singers is like having Christopher Reeve judge a dance contest”). Can he please host every awards show?


50 CENT The indomitable rapper has had nearly as many hits as he’s had bullets to the face, so it was puzzling to see the burly charmer focus his performance exclusively on the relatively weak ”P.I.M.P.” Instead of bringing on the overexposed Snoop Dogg for some tired pimp-juice posturing, 50 should’ve done a medley that included ”21 Questions,” ”In Da Club,” and ”Wanksta.” Still, Snoop was hilarious later on, as he wished Adam Sandler ”Mazzle Tizzle” on his wedding.

BEYONCÉ AND JAY-Z Why did Britney and Maddy show more on-stage chemistry than this all-but-confirmed couple? And why would one of R&B’s most dynamic live performers choose to use pre-recorded vocals that drowned out whatever live singing she was doing? We won’t even mention the hairstyle that led Chris Rock to compare a certain diva to ”Seabiscuit.” Oh wait, we just did.


GOOD CHARLOTTE Hey guys, the goth cheerleader thing was a great idea — when Nirvana did it, 12 years ago. Meanwhile, the contrast between Good Charlotte’s outré (and clearly labored-upon) look — guitarist Benji Madden’s facial tattoos, singer Joel Madden’s dyed Mohawk — and their bland, Blink-182 sound is hilarious to anyone over the age of 14. And while their hits display songwriting smarts, the band’s musicianship was wobbly at best in Thursday night’s version of ”The Anthem,” with Madden’s thin, hoarse voice wobbling in the absence of studio magic. Heck, they didn’t even smash their instruments with conviction.

METALLICA Having the metal survivors pay tribute to MTV’s past with tunes by Lenny Kravitz, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, and the White Stripes was a cool idea, but the resulting instrumental medley felt half-hearted and unsatisfying. Wasn’t Kravitz or Jack White — or anybody — available to sing with them? Maybe Jacko himself would’ve showed up if they promised him another nonexistent award. Then again, Jack Black’s ”super-genius of the century award” skit might have tipped him off.

What do you think are the best and worst moments from the show?