Future Stars Who Performed on the Pre-Show – Billboard

September 8, 2023 - Music

With their upcoming debuts at the MTV VMAs’ pre-show, Sabrina Carpenter and NLE Choppa are set to join the storied company of future A-listers who made their first VMAs performances on the pre-show.

Nicki Minaj, last year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, performed on the pre-show in 2010. And she’s not the only Video Vanguard winner who started out on the pre-show: Rihanna, who performed on the pre-show in 2010, got the Video Vanguard honor in 2016. Foo Fighters, who received a Global Icon Award last year – and may very well be Video Vanguard winners one day — performed on the pre-show in 1997.

In all, 16 acts who first performed on the VMAs’ pre-show later stepped up to performing on the main show. The list also includes such heavy hitters as Usher, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato.

Dozens more stars who first performed on the pre-show have yet to step onto the MTV main stage, for whatever reason:. They include No Doubt (who performed on the pre-show in 1996), 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 pretty packed every year. Also, sometimes, their most timely hits broke big after the VMAs’ line-up was set. The VMAs usually air in late August or early September, but the bookings are generally made and announced weeks before that.

In some cases, the hits were helped along in their chart climbs by the VMAs exposure. Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” which they performed on the pre-show in September 1998, hit 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, hit No. 1 in October 2017.

Performances on the pre-show may have helped a few artists land key Grammy nominations. Many Grammy voters watch the VMAs, just as thoughts are turning to that other, longer-established show. Avril Lavigne performed “Complicated” on the pre-show in 2002, and went on to receive 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 went on to receive a record of the year nomination at the Grammys.

Here are the 16 acts who performed on the pre-show on their way to the main telecast. You’ll be amazed at some of the big stars who had wait their turn to get invited to the main event.

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