From Ariana Grande licking a donut to Lady Gaga's meat dress.

By Eve BarlowMaureen Lee LenkerMaura Johnston and Christopher R. Weingarten
December 03, 2019 at 01:00 PM EST
Phil McCarten/CBS via Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images; Rich Fury/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

To celebrate the end of the 2010s, Entertainment Weekly is looking back at the best pop culture of the decade that changed movies, TV, music, and more. Today, we count down the weirdest pop star moments of the last 10 years.

50 Cent’s terrible first pitch at a Mets game (2014)

In 2014, Queens-born MC 50 Cent was ready to pay mutual tribute to his home borough by throwing out the first pitch at a game for the Flushing-based New York Mets. But his throw redefined the term “wild pitch,” going juuuust a little bit wide of the plate and striking a cameraman — and making him a highlight-reel star for all the wrong reasons. “It just was the worst pitch ever . . . I had pitched before. I rehearsed. I practiced. I threw the ball a little bit,” 50 told Newsday in 2018. “I was throwing like, ‘Oh, man, I’m about to throw a strike, a hundred miles an hour.’ But that [expletive] damn near killed a cameraman!” —Maura Johnston

Kings of Leon being covered in pigeon poop (2010)

Nashville rockers Kings of Leon got a much grosser kind of unfriendly audience reception at a 2010 show in St. Louis, thanks to a flock of pigeons that had nested in the rafters of the then-Verizon Amphitheater.  Three songs in, the band abandoned ship, having been covered in excrement from the birds. “We had 20 songs on the set list,” self-proclaimed “germaphobe” Jared Folowill told CNN after the feathers had stopped flying. “By the end of the show, I would have been covered from head to toe.” —MJ

Lana Del Rey on SNL (2012)

Saturday Night Live has long been a proving ground for new-to-market musicians, and the hype surrounding Lana Del Rey’s 2012 debut on the show was deafening even before she sang a note from Studio 8H. But her performance, which included a wobbly version of her breakout single “Video Games” and the brooding “Blue Jeans,” was even more notorious for Del Rey’s presence, which featured a glazed expression, wobbly vocals, and awkward twirling that was made for meme appropriating. Del Rey’s live performance has rebounded admirably in the years since, but her hesitant pas d’une lives on. —MJ

Cee-Lo Green gold man at Grammys (2017)

In 2017, Cee-Lo Green showed up to the Grammys looking like an Oscar: gold from head to toe including face paint. The Southern rap pioneer, modern-throwback hitmaker, and coach on four seasons of The Voice had torpedoed his career with a series of Tweets about sexual assault in 2014. His TBS reality show was cancelled and his 2015 album Heart Blanche fizzled. This attempt at a reboot was a new character named Gnarly Davidson, who released a handful of songs in 2016 and 2017 to little fanfare. —Christopher R. Weingarten

Madonna’s speech at the VMAs (2018)

A few days after Aretha Franklin passed away, Madonna used her presenting slot at the Video Music Awards to ramble on about how she’d used “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” in an early audition. “None of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul,” Madonna proclaimed. “She led me to where I am today.” Then she talked a little bit about losing a shoe during her titanic performance of “Like A Virgin” at the first VMAs in 1984 before handing the Video of the Year award off to Camila Cabello. (At least this will make for an amusing anecdote by Cabello someday!) —MJ

Ariana Grande licking donuts (2015)

Ariana’s decade began as a teenaged Nickelodeon star and it ended as a Grammy-winning, Hot 100-topping superstar. But in the years between she was an emerging pop singer dealing with tabloid fame. Causing a national uproar, Grande and her then-boyfriend were caught on tape licking the goods in a California Donut Shop. When eyeing some especially large treats, she exclaimed “What the f–k is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.” It wasn’t exactly Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt, but Grande’s behavior was called out by a South Carolina Congressman and Rob Lowe. It got her knocked out of consideration for a Barack Obama gala and got her banned for life from the shop. —CW

Taylor Swift’s “Please welcome to the stage” (2015)

YouTube comedian Lara Marie Schoenals released a parody video in the summer of 2015 so close-to-the-bone it’s both a surreal and still-hysterical re-watch. In it, Schoenals parades around pretending to hold a microphone while welcoming a guest on to the stage, just as Taylor Swift did every night without fail for her globe-conquering 1989 World Tour. Swift’s list of “guests” grew increasingly more random as the tour went on. If you were anywhere remotely famous or notorious, you were not safe from her invite. In Schoenals’ parody she welcomes — among others — the ashes of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials, the hologram of Maya Angelou, and “the nanny Ben Affleck f—d”. Swift, on the other hand, extended her squad to (among many, many others) Lena Dunham, Alanis Morrissette, Julia Roberts, Joan Baez, Gigi Hadid, Idina Menzel, Ricky Martin, Pitbull, Serena Williams, Nelly, Mick Jagger, Ellen DeGeneres, the entire US Women’s Soccer Team, and… Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay! —Eve Barlow

Lady Gaga meat dress

Lady Gaga has been responsible for some of the most outrageous, headline-grabbing looks and performances of the last decade, but perhaps none loom so large as the “meat dress” she wore to the 2010 VMAs while accepting the Video of the Year award for “Bad Romance.” The outfit, actually made from raw flank steak, turned heads and drew the ire of animal rights groups. For Gaga, it was a political statement meant to speak out against the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” urging individuals to fight for their rights before becoming worth no more than the meat on their bones. It’s since been preserved by taxidermists and will remain one of the most outré fashion statements ever made (which is saying something for the VMAs). “Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah.” Literally. —Maureen Lenker

Kanye West (2013-present)

After kicking off the decade with the critically beloved, star-studded My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West embarked on a roll that could best be described as “quixotic,” one that was magnified and warped by social media, reality TV, a less-than-charitable gossip press, and a fanbase that wanted to remain devoted against all odds. The harsh Yeezus, the sprawling The Life of Pablo, the gospel-minded Jesus Is King, and West’s ambitious, sometimes triumphant live performances felt like backdrops to the speeches, proclamations, and presidential-run announcements that defined Kanye’s 2010s soap opera. —MJ

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