No one knew what to expect when MTV presented the first Video Music Awards in 1984. Over the years, that out-of-left-field wackiness is likely the reason a channel that rarely shows music videos anymore keeps giving awards for them. Handing out Moonmen is just a pretext for getting unpredictable stars in a room together to see what jumps off. Kanye West-like ego eruptions are still the best part of the show, even as producers attempt to manufacture Twitter-worthy moments.
So, here are a few things we know about this year's VMAs:
At press time, there was no host. The last time that happened was 2007.
Lady Gaga will open the show. This might crash the Internet.
There will be a Britney Spears tribute. What the tribute entails remains a mystery. VMA executive producer Amy Doyle told Billboard.com, "Obviously, everything from her choreography to her fashion to her videos will be covered]. We said, 'Let's challenge ourselves to do something unique.' "
Amy Winehouse is expected to be honored. Doyle said the VMA producers are "talking about acknowledging" Winehouse, who died July 23. "She was very near and dear to us."
No matter what happens, this year's edition of the Video Music Awards has a lot to live up to. Here's a look back at some of the highs (and lows) of VMAs past:
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME Madonna, dressed in lace and garters, does her racy, iconic performance of "Like a Virgin."
BUT WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Swedish synth-pop band a-ha rules the night, taking home eight awards for the groundbreaking video for "Take on Me." To put that in perspective, Jay-Z has only six Moonmen over a 15-year career.
BREAKING BAD Michael Jackson sings "Bad," his first-ever performance on the show.
TEARS OF A CLOWN Comedian Andrew Dice Clay supposedly earns a lifetime ban for performing his raunchy, profanity-filled nursery rhymes.
GETTING CHEEKY Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens makes his first appearance after his arrest for indecent exposure. Speaking of exposure, Prince shows off his yellow, buttless pants.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID The most interesting moment happens after the show, when Courtney Love interrupts Kurt Loder's interview with Madonna. At one point the Material Girl snaps, "Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now."
WHY CAN'T THIS BE LOVE? The original members of Van Halen appear together for the first time since 1985, stirring up hopes of a reunion tour. But Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth still can't stand to be in a room together, so no tour.
REALLY BIG SHOW Puff Daddy (the future P. Diddy), Faith Evans and Sting pay tribute to slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G. with the hit song "I'll Be Missing You," which samples The Police's hit, "Every Breath You Take."
SHOW-OFF Actress Rose McGowan walks the red carpet in a see-through, chainmail-like dress with a thong, no bra and apparently no shame.
NAKED AMBITION, V1.0 While performing, Spears rips off her pantsuit to reveal a flesh-colored bodysuit and sequined underwear.
NAKED AMBITION, V2.0 Brit strikes again, this time performing while wearing a python, earning PETA's ire.
THE KISS, V2.0 Iconic smooch between Madonna and Spears. Most folks forget that Christina Aguilera also got a kiss from Madge, but a camera cutaway mostly misses the moment.
HIDE YOUR KIDS R. Kelly does an over-the-top performance of his hip-hop soap opera, "Trapped in the Closet," in which he assumes all the roles.
RUNNING MEN OK Go re-creates the synchronized treadmill dance from their video for the song "Here It Goes Again."
NO MAS Spears' disastrous performance of "Gimme More" almost derails a comeback.
LORD OF THE RINGS Russell Brand mocks the Jonas Brothers for wearing purity rings, declaring the trio's decision not to sleep with fans is "like Superman deciding not to fly and instead just getting a bus everywhere."
'STEAKING' HER CLAIM Not only did Lady Gaga break a record for nominations (13; she won eight), but she accepted the award for Video of the Year wearing a dress made of meat.
This year's show
WHEN 9 p.m. Sunday, live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Preshow, co-hosted by Selena Gomez, is at 8 p.m.
TOP NOMINEES Katy Perry -- Nine, including video of the year for "Firework"
Adele -- Seven, including video of the year for "Rolling in the Deep"
Kanye West -- Seven, including best male video