Memorable VMA Opening Acts – Where Will Lady Gaga Rank? (VIDEOS)

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With Lady Gaga set to open the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (airing Sunday at 9PM ET), the show is pretty much guaranteed to go off with the bang.

But while Gaga has certainly wowed the VMA stage before (people are still talking about her meat dress from 2010), she’s got some pretty big shoes to fill as opening act.

Will Gaga — who is up for multiple awards — wow the crowd like Michael Jackson did in 1995? Or will she go the devastating route of Britney Spears, circa 2007?

As we wait to find out, relive some of the VMA’s most memorable opening acts of all-time.

Michael Jackson, 1995

One year after his infamous kiss with then-wife Lisa Marie Presley, Michael Jackson kicked off the VMAs in a much more — how do we put this lightly? — digestible way: by performing an epic, 10-minute-plus medley of his songs. The performance, which included everything from “Billie Jean” to “Black or White,” also featured a surprise performance from Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Slash, marking one of the best moments of the late Jackson’s career.

Puff Daddy feat. Faith Evans, Sting, Mase and 112, 1997

Following the tragic shooting of Notorious B.I.G., Diddy, then known as Puff Daddy, took to the VMA stage to pay tribute to the late rapper with a touching rendition of his single, “I’ll Be Missing You.” Joined by Faith Evans, Sting, Mase and 112, Puffy brought the audience together to celebrate Biggie’s career and to remind everyone of the void that had been left by his death. To this day, we’re still missing him.

Bruce Springsteen, 2002

As our nation mourned the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bruce Springsteen took to the stage in 2002 to perform his 9/11-inspired song, “The Rising.” It was a rare touching moment for the VMAs, and went a long way in helping viewers to recover from that devastating day.

Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, 2003

Madonna has always been a controversial figure at the VMAs; lest we forget her infamous performance of “Like a Virgin” at the inaugural show in 1984. But 19 years later, the Material Girl still managed to shock everyone when she locked lips with her fellow performers, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, during the show’s opening act. The kiss landed Madonna on the cover of practically every newspaper, and quickly became one of the defining moments in VMA history.

Britney Spears, 2007

In what may go down as the most bizarre VMA performance of all time, Britney barely sang and danced her way through her hit single, “Gimme More,” in 2007. Dressed in an unflattering bra, underwear and boots, the “Toxic” singer had everyone scratching their heads in disbelief as her much-hyped comeback came to a screeching halt. Luckily, Brit had a quick turnout; one year later, she took home the award for Video of the Year, for “Piece of Me.” But even that wasn’t enough to shake her “Gimme More” performance, which to this day lives on in VMA infamy.

Which one do you think is the MOST memorable? Let us know in the comments!