MTV Video Music Awards 2012: Top 10 Opening Moments in VMA History (GALLERY)

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Rihanna Opening VMAs
The pop star will perform with ASAP Rocky.
MTV VMAs 2012 Special
One Direction hosts the greatest performances special.
When you only have 30 seconds to make a good first impression, every moment counts. And when it comes to the MTV Video Music Awards’ audience, which is full of the music industry’s biggest stars and millions of home viewers, each second counts a whole lot more.

On Tuesday, MTV announced that Rihanna will be setting the 2012 VMAs off with a performance of the newly remixed “Cockiness (I Love It)” with rapper ASAP Rocky.

So in honor of the impending awards show, Celebuzzis taking a stroll down VMA memory lane for the show’s most amazing opening moments. (No pressure, RiRi. You’ll be great.)

Which moments top our list?

Recent VMA history (recent as in 2011) brought us Lady Gaga’s gender-bending alter ego, Jo Calderone. Not only did Gaga deliver a monologue as the character, she also performed “You And I.” That wasn’t all, though. Gaga surprised fans and press alike when she stayed in character all evening.

Clearly, Madonna has made her mark on the VMAs plenty of times starting with her risqué – and now legendary – performance of “Like A Virgin” during the awards show’s inaugural broadcast in 1984. But that wasn’t an opening act – she actually appeared second on the show.

But, a more mature material girl returned in 2003 to show she still had the talent for cooking up controversy when she performed with pop progeny Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. And, yes, she got everyone all riled up by kissing the younger singers.

Then, of course, there was another famous kiss in 1994 when Michael Jackson showed up with then wife Lisa Marie Presley. Before planting a very awk-ward smooch on the King of Rock’s only daughter, he proclaimed – too soon as it turns out — “And just think, nobody thought this would last.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for VMA’s most memorable opening moments. We still have Pee-wee Herman’s surprise appearance after being arrested for making a theatre his own personal playhouse, Bruce Springsteen’s rousing performance of 9/11-inspired “The Rising,” plus Puff Daddy (as Sean Combs was known then) rolled in the deep to pay tribute to fallen friend, rapper Notorious B.I.G., plus we dusted off a few more great moments from the VMA vaults.

Take a look at the full Top 10 list in our gallery above. And to watch some of the moments, take a look at last year’s Top 5 picks.

Do you think Rihanna can make next year’s list? Sound off in the comments section below.