Future Stars Who Performed On The Pre-Show – Billboard
Dove Cameron, Saucy Santana and Yung Gravy probably all have mixed feelings about being invited to perform on the VMAs pre-show rather than the main TV show: They’re happy to be invited at all , of course, but also maybe at least a little disappointed not to be on the main stage. (Reservations for this year’s pre-show were announced on Friday, August 19. The show will take place on Sunday, August 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ)
They shouldn’t take it as an affront, though. Many future A-listers made their VMAs debut performances at the pre-show. Nicki Minaj, this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard award, performed on the pre-show in 2010. And she’s not the only Video Vanguard winner to start the pre-show: Rihanna, who has played on the pre-show in 2010, received the Video Vanguard award in 2016. Foo Fighters, who received a Global Icon Award last year – and may very well one day be the winners of Video Vanguard – played during the pre-show in 1997. Even Jack Harlow, who “anchored” this year’s VMAs with Minaj and LL Cool J, started the pre-show in 2020.
In all, 16 artists who performed for the first time at the VMAs pre-show went on to take part in the main show. The list also includes heavyweights like Usher, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato.
Dozens of other stars who performed for the first time on the pre-show have yet to take to the MTV main stage, for whatever reason: They include No Doubt (who performed on the 1996 pre-show), Barenaked Ladies (1998), Smash Mouth (1999), Papa Roach (2000), Avril Lavigne (2002), Sean Paul (2003), Jadakiss (2004) , Fergie (2006), My Chemical Romance (2006), Charli XCX (2014), Cardi B (2017), Ava Max (2019), Megan Thee Stallion (2019), Tate McRae (2020), Machine Gun Kelly (2020), Polo G (2021) and Swedish House Mafia (2021).
So why didn’t the VMA producers book some of these acts for the main show instead of the pre-show? The show is quite busy every year. Additionally, sometimes their most timely hits have erupted once the composition of the VMAs has been established. VMAs usually air in late August or early September. Reservations are usually made and advertised weeks in advance.
In some cases, the hits were aided in their ascents by exposure to the VMAs. The Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”, which they performed on the pre-show in September 1998, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following month. Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)”, which she performed on the pre-show in August 2017, reached No. 1 in October 2017.
Pre-show performances may have helped a few artists land key Grammy nominations. Many Grammy voters watch the VMAs, just as thoughts turn to that other, older show. Avril Lavigne performed “Complicated” on the pre-show in 2002 and later received a Song of the Year nomination for that song at the Grammys. The Black Eyed Peas performed “Where Is the Love?” on the pre-show in 2003 and later received a Record of the Year nomination at the Grammys.
Here are the 16 acts that performed on the preshow before heading to the main telecast. You’ll be amazed to see some of the big stars who waited their turn to be invited to the main event.