From Jim Carrey's on-stage tumble to Beyoncé's nearly 20-minute performance, here are the must-see moments from the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Poor Ariana Grande has never looked more like a kid who just left a Nickelodeon show than when she went up against Nicki Minaj during the opening number of the MTV Video Music Awards.

Although Grande kicked off the show with her single “Break Free” — without the intergalactic special effects of the video — her perfectly fine performance was immediately forgotten after Minaj strolled on stage with her new tune, “Anaconda.” Even before Minaj suffered a wardrobe malfunction, her performance featured the following:

  • Minaj, with painted-on snake scales, strategically running her hands up and down herself.
  • The very important excerpt from Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
  • Twerking. A lot of twerking.
  • Backup dancers, painted green, gyrating on top of Minaj.
  • A lack of snakes.

That last item is definitely for the best. Minaj made headlines before the VMAs even started when a six-foot boa constrictor bit one of her backup dancers, sending the woman to the hospital with a “not life-threatening” wound. Still, when a giant snake bites someone during a performance, it’s kind of a buzzkill — so even though MTV said another boa or python would replace the offending snake (a show-biz pro named Rocky), it was probably a good call to go snake-free.

By the time Jessie J joined Grande and Minaj on stage for a rendition of their hit “Bang Bang,” all eyes were on Minaj again as she tried to hold her very short and very low-cut dress together. Twitter immediately jumped to the “wardrobe malfunction” conclusion:

Rita Ora channeled everyone’s reaction during the whole performance.

Did we mention all the twerking? Luckily, after the Miley Cyrus opening performance last year, no one could be quite as shocked.


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