Most Iconic VMA Moments: Madonna Makes History in 1984 By Performing ‘Like a Virgin’

Is Madonna’s 1984 performance of “Like a Virgin” the greatest VMA performance ever? In anticipation of the 2013 MTV VMA ceremony on August 25, we want you to help us name the most iconic VMA moment ever.  We’ve selected five of the most memorable performances; vote for your favorite below. Continue reading after the poll for more Madonna goodies. Return each day this week for a new feature on each of the performances. You may vote once per day.

Return next week to vote for your favorite VMA fashion moment. Then, the week of August 12, we wil ask you to vote for your favorite VMA scandal. And now… it’s voting time!

Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” Performance: The One That Started It All

All week long, we’ve relived some of the most iconic MTV VMA performances in history. Some might say we saved the best for last. That’s up to you to decide — by voting above, naturally. But let’s get one thing straight: whether or not you think Madonna’s 1984 performance of her massive hit, “Like a Virgin,” is the most iconic in the award show’s history, you must concede that said performance set the bar for what it means to make a lasting impression at the VMAs.

Madonna began her performance perched atop a large wedding cake and was dressed, veil and all, in a sexy wedding dress. As she continued, she removed her veil and begin dancing around the stage. Over time, these images became emblazoned in our collective memory. When you think “performing in a wedding dress,” you think Madonna. When you think “the early years of MTV,” you think Madonna. When you think of the VMAs, you think of Madonna, and this performance, specifically.

But the most memorable moment didn’t come until the end, when Madonna began grinding on her veil and writhing on the floor in ecstasy. If you watch the video above — and you should — you will note that it takes the audience several seconds to begin applauding, as they were so shocked at what they’d just seen.

Still in doubt about this performance’s impact? So iconic was this moment that it directly inspired another hugely controversial VMA moment 20 years later. You know the one I’m talking about:

So, not only was the original “Like a Virgin” performance the first culturally significant moment in VMA history, it continued to inspire controversy and headlines two decades after originally airing. That, my friends, is a fact. Also, the performance inspired this:

And in the age of the internet, what says “iconic” more than a reen-cat-ment?

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite iconic VMA performance above. Return each day this week to vote again — and for a new feature on the other performances.

Read our feature on Britney Spears’ iconic “I’m a Slave 4 U” performance at the 2001 VMAs.

Read our feature on Lady Gaga’s iconic “Paparazzi”  performance at the 2009 VMAs.

Read our feature on Eminem’s iconic “The Real Slim Shady” performance at the 2000 VMAs.

Read our feature on Beyoncé’s iconic “Love on Top” performance at the 2011 VMAs.