The most memorable and embarrassing award show moments
The most memorable and embarrassing award show moments
1. ‘Imma let you finish’
Award show: MTV Video Music Awards (MTV VMAs) Year: 2009
Ah yes, how can we forget this iconic moment? Rapper and Kim Kardashian beau Kanye West has done a lot of embarrassing things, but this one remains one of his all-time cringe moments. It all began when Taylor Swift was in the middle of accepting an award for her music video “You Belong With Me.”
West jumped on stage and interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech to tell the audience that Beyoncé should have won the award. “Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!” West said. Beyoncé’s reaction echoed a lot of viewers’ at the time …
2. John Travolta calls Idina Menzel ‘Adele Dazeem’
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 2014
Oh, John Travolta … You’re a great dancer but not the greatest award show presenter. During the 2014 Academy Awards, Travolta introduced actress and singer Idina Menzel for her performance of “Let it Go” from Frozen but didn’t quite say her name right.
Instead of “Idina Menzel,” the Saturday Night Fever star called her “Adele Dazeem” (*Facepalm*). A true professional, Menzel graciously stepped on stage without acknowledging Travolta’s flub. Fortunately, this mistake just raised awareness of Menzel.
3. Jennifer Lawrence falls down
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 2013
This might truly be one of the most embarrassing award show moments (or it could all be an act). The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence was walking up to the stage to accept her Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook when she tripped and fell on the steps.
“I kept thinking, ‘Cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk.’ I thought, ‘Why is cakewalk stuck in my head?’” she told W Magazine. “I realized my stylist had told me, ‘Kick, walk, kick, walk.’ You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot.”
4. Ricky Gervais pokes fun at Hollywood
Award show: Golden Globes Year: 2020
British comedian and former The Office star Ricky Gervais hosted the 2020 Golden Globes with scathing commentary about Hollywood. While some viewers watched gleefully, some stars visibly cringed. “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” Gervais said.
“You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” he continued. Other topics covered — ISIS, a lack of diversity in Hollywood, and Jeffrey Epstein (‘I know he’s your friend but I don’t care … You had to make your own way here in your own plane, didn’t you?’).
5. Madonna gets yanked downstairs
Award show: British Record Industry Trusts Show (The BRIT Awards) Year: 2015 Madonna handled one of the most embarrassing award show moments with grace — despite falling downstairs. The culprit in this fiasco was a wardrobe malfunction, more specifically, a cape. A backup dancer ripped off Madge’s cloak before it was untied.
Madonna was pulled backward down a few stairs and onto the floor as a consequence. She stopped singing “Living for Love” for a moment but then powered through the rest of the number. A true professional!
6. Beyoncé’s backing track goes berserk
Award show: MTV European Music Awards (MTV EMAs) Year: 2003
What do you do when the track you’re supposed to sing over goes haywire? Queen Bey kept her performance of “Baby Boy” moving despite backing track malfunctions, but eventually gave up.
“Baby boy, you are so damn fine,” kept repeating over and over as Beyoncé waved to the audience and headed backstage. This incident proves that you can’t win them all — even if you’re a queen.
7. Taylor Swift looked like she thought she won another Grammy
Award show: Grammy Awards Year: 2014
In Swift’s defense, it DID sound like presenter Alicia Keys was going to say “Red” at first. Of course, the internet had a swift (get it?) reaction to the pop star’s facial expression when she thought Red won the award for Album of the Year.
The Grammy instead went to French robot DJs Daft Punk (they’re just DRESSED UP as robots, Linda) for their album Random Access Memories. Swift had previously taken home a Grammy for her album Fearless, so one for Red would have been a double whammy! Alas, it wasn’t her day …
8. Nicki Minaj confronts Miley Cyrus
Award show: MTV VMAs Year: 2015
This was possibly one of the most embarrassing award show moments, at least for Miley Cyrus — Nicki Minaj was probably quite pleased with herself. It all started when Cyrus told The New York Times that Minaj is “not too kind.”
“And now back to this b**ch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press — Miley, what’s good?” Minaj clapped back at Cyrus after accepting her award for Best Hip-Hop Video.
9. Michael Jackson thought he won an award that doesn’t exist
Award show: MTV VMAs Year: 2002
When singer Britney Spears introduced fellow singer Michael Jackson to wish him “happy birthday” at the 2002 MTV VMAs, she said she considered him the “artist of the millennium.” He was handed a treble clef-shaped award with a bright-red bow as a gift.
Jackson began making an acceptance speech: “When I was a little boy in Indiana if someone had told me I’d be getting the ‘Artist of the Millennium award,’ I wouldn’t have believed it.” Well, it’s pretty unbelievable because that award doesn’t exist.
10. Sofía Vergara gets put on a pedestal
Award show: Emmy Awards Year: 2014
The Modern Family star struck a pose on a rotating pedestal while the Television Academy’s chairman, Bruce Rosenblum, gave a speech about the TV industry. It ended with him saying: “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.”
Sarah Begley wrote in Time: “Though the gimmick might have turned into a commentary on how Hollywood actresses are hypersexualized and objectified, the second beat of the joke never came. Instead, it ended with a straight-up justification for the sex-sells mentality.”
11. Anne Hathaway and James Franco awkwardly cohost
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 2011
The entirety of Princess Diaries actress Anne Hathaway and Pineapple Express actor James Franco’s hosting of the Oscars was cringey, to say the least. Thus, we’ve added it to our list of embarrassing award show moments, although it’s one long moment — or many moments?
Whatever, you get the gist. The critiques of Hathaway and Franco post-Oscars said that the pair’s personalities clashed, possibly creating the awkwardness between them. It’s probably a lot easier to cohost when you like your cohost, no?
12. Melody shows up late to The Pussycat Dolls’ performance
Award show: American Music Awards (AMAs) Year: 2006
Former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton told the Mirror Online that she felt “worthless” while in the group. “I had never felt insecure until I joined The Pussycat Dolls.” Melody was recruited as a singer — but record execs never let her sing. This AMAs performance is a prime example of this tension.
Despite a chair falling over, The Dolls’ performance of “Buttons” was going well until Thornton appeared on stage with only 40 seconds left in the number. Thornton proceeded to sing off-pitch over Nicole Scherzinger’s vocals. She’s sung over Scherzinger before — but was on key.
13. Jennifer Lopez takes a spill
Award show: AMAs Year: 2009
During her performance of “Louboutins” — which was boxing-themed for some reason — Jennifer Lopez attempted a stunt but didn’t quite land it right. Using her backup dancers as a makeshift staircase, J.Lo climbed up the stairs and jumped off the last dancer.
Unfortunately, she didn’t stick the landing and ended up on her butt. Lopez hopped up onto her feet almost immediately and finished the rest of “Louboutins” without an issue. Hey — it was a big stunt that you and I probably couldn’t do either.
This probably wouldn’t be an addition to a list of embarrassing award show moments for Jolie and Haven, but plenty of individuals were uncomfortable with that Oscars kiss. To make matters worse, Jolie said she was “in love” with her brother upon accepting her award for Girl, Interrupted.
15. Lil Mama shows up to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance … uninvited
Award show: MTV VMAs Year: 2009
Interestingly, this happened the same night that Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech (see slide number one). Let’s set the scene: Rapper Jay-Z and singer Alicia Keys were wrapping up a performance of “Empire State of Mind.”
Then — out of nowhere — “Lip Gloss” singer Lil Mama hopped up on stage to pose with Keys and Jay-Z at the end of the song. Jay-Z was really unhappy, calling Lil Mama’s crashing of his performance “outta line.” Lil Mama later apologized.
16. Man streaks as Elizabeth Taylor takes the stage
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 1974
Oscars cohost David Niven was introducing actress Elizabeth Taylor when a naked man sporting a very ’70s mustache streaked across the stage, throwing up a peace sign in the process. After 30 seconds of laughter from the audience, Niven made a joke.
“Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” The streaker was artist, photographer, and gay rights activist Robert Opel. That moment gained Opel and his work some notoriety.
17. Jacqueline Bisset’s strange Golden Globes acceptance speech
Award show: Golden Globes Year: 2014
Upon accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries, or TV Movie for Dancing on the Edge, actress Jacqueline Bisset embarked on what some critics said was a strange speech. She dropped the “S word,” said forgiveness is her best beauty treatment …
And she said, “Like my mother used to say, ‘Go to hell and don’t come back.’” A report in Variety explained Bisset’s confusing behavior. Apparently, she didn’t know her category was coming up so soon and got frazzled when her name was called.
18. Katy Perry falls — four times
Award show: MTV Latin America Awards (Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica) Year: 2008
At the end of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” performance, she jumped into a big pink cake — which was planned — but the other times she slipped on the icing on the ground probably weren’t.
Her guitarist tried to help her up, but Perry kept slipping. She eventually crawled away — gravity and icing overpowered her, apparently. Fortunately, this all occurred at the end of the performance, with the rest of the song going off without a hitch.
19. Nicole Kidman’s seal-like clapping
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 2017
Viewers noticed actress Nicole Kidman’s unique method of clapping, which looked to some as one that was very seal-like. Memes of Kidman’s seal clapping circled the internet and she became the third-most Googled person from the Oscars red carpet.
Apparently, she was clapping like this to avoid damaging her expensive rings. “It was really awkward!” Kidman told KISS FM. “I was like gosh, I want to clap, I don’t want to not be clapping, which would be worse, right? ‘Why isn’t Nicole clapping?’”
Chrissy Teigen’s crying face becomes a meme
Award show: Golden Globes Year: 2015
The camera happened to land on Chrissy Teigen at a not-so-model-like moment and thus, her “crying face” became a meme. Sorry, Chrissy. The model was tearing up as her husband, singer John Legend, walked onstage to accept his award for “Best Original Song.”
“Sorry I don’t practice my cry face okay,” Teigen quipped on Twitter after her “cry face” went viral. “It’s been 5 minutes and I’m a meme.” It’s been years since the 2015 Golden Globes, and the Teigen cry-face meme is still going strong on the internet.
The La La Land and Moonlight mix-up
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 2017
Iconic silver screen stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (otherwise known as Bonnie and Clyde) were presenting the Oscar for Best Picture when they were given the wrong envelope. They announced that La La Land had won, but Moonlight was the actual winner.
Turns out that Dunaway and Beatty were given the envelope announcing Emma Stone’s Best Actress award — but that award had already been announced. This much-talked-about incident became known as #EnvelopeGate on the internet.
David Letterman makes a bad Oprah and Uma Thurman joke
Award show: Academy Awards Year: 1995 Late Show host David Letterman had the honor — and difficult job — of hosting the Academy Awards in 1995. Letterman started off his hosting duties with a super lame joke: “I’ve been dying to do something all day and I think maybe we can take care of this,” he said.
“Oprah? Uma. Uma? Oprah. I feel much better. Have you kids met Keanu?” The audience laughed, but it’s unsure how many people actually thought that joke was hilarious. The YouTube commenters seem to think Letterman’s joke was funny, though.
That face Leonardo DiCaprio made at Lady Gaga
Award show: Golden Globes Year: 2016
“Oh lord — that’s trending, huh?” Leonardo DiCaprio asked Entertainment Tonight after they showed him the then-viral GIF. The GIF in question shows Lady Gaga squeezing by DiCaprio to accept her Golden Globe. DiCaprio seemed to cringe.
Things aren’t always what they seem, however. DiCaprio told Entertainment Tonight that he meant nothing by his cringe face. “I just didn’t know what was passing me, that’s all!” he said.