Greatest Hits: 30 Years of MTV Looks
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Intro_v01a1 of 24
Platinum Hit2 of 24
By Shannan Rouss & Brithny Zhang
With her signature glossy red lips and white-blond hair, singer Debbie Harry debuted her video for "Heart of Glass" in 1981, the same year MTV hit the airwaves.
Fringe Festival3 of 24
Often performing in shiny black spandex and tees as dresses, Pat Benatar seems to have been an inspiration for today's retro rock style. One of the most played artists in MTV's early days, her hits include "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield" and "We Belong."
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Jett-setter4 of 24
A forebear of the fashion mullet, Joan Jett was both tough and sexy, and as skilled on the guitar as any of her male counterparts. Her hit anthem "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" was a top MTV video in 1982.
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Girl Power5 of 24
In 1984, Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun was named Best Female Video by MTV. With her bright hair, bold shadow and rhinestone overload, the eccentric star stood out even at the height of punk.
Forever Young6 of 24
With the release of her hit album Private Dancer, Tina Turner didn't need to strong-arm her way back into the spotlight. MTV's audience welcomed the then-45-year-old singer, and seemed to ask, "What's age got to do with it?"
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Just Friends7 of 24
In Bruce Springsteen's '84 video for "Dancing in the Dark," Courteney Cox played the lucky fan pulled onstage. Her boyish look (those rolled-up sleeves!) complemented The Boss's all-American, blue-collar style.
That's Commitment8 of 24
The same year Lauper landed a Moon Man, Madonna made rock history with her risqué performance of "Like a Virgin" at the MTV Video Music Awards. Writhing on the stage in a lacy white wedding dress, Madonna proved she wasn't afraid of a little controversy.
Short Notice9 of 24
In '86, Madge ditched the lacy duds in favor of a tomboy look for her "Papa Don't Preach" video. Her short platinum crop and jeans-and-tee style worked with the song's more serious storyline.
Totally '80s10 of 24
One of MTV's early VJs, Downtown Julie Brown is wearing at least four 80s trends in a single outfit: acid-washed jeans, black hat, patent leather shoes and slouchy socks. Wubba wubba wubba indeed.
Grin & Bare It11 of 24
In 1987 Aerosmith released Permanent Vacation featuring the hit song "Dude Looks Like a Lady." Seen here at the MTV Video Music Awards, Steven Tyler is all dressed up in a cummerbund and suspenders.
Pony Up12 of 24
Long before American Idol, videos for hits like "Straight Up," "Opposites Attract" (remember that cartoon cat?) and "Forever Your Girl" (seen here) made Paula Abdul an MTV sensation. During the late 80s, her high teased ponytail and big hoop earrings were two trends seen in malls across America.
Model Behavior13 of 24
Glamazon Cindy Crawford was the first host of MTV's House of Style, which debuted in 1989. (Later, models Daisy Fuentes, Rebecca Romijn and Molly Sims would follow in her stiletto footsteps.) Seen here at the MTV Video Music Awards in '92, Crawford brought a little runway to the rock event in a Versace dress.
Seattle's Best14 of 24
Grunge icon Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam helped usher in a new genre of music and style in the early '90s. Staples of the look? Military jackets, over-sized tees, torn jeans and flannel plaids.
Well Matched15 of 24
In 1992, the trio known as TLC introduced the condom as fashion statement in the video for "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg." (They pinned them to baggy bright-hued pants.) Later the group's look evolved, with each member wearing variations on a look that suited her personal style.
Brace Yourself16 of 24
Introducing a look and style all her own, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani (seen here with then-hubby-to-be Gavin Rossdale) helped merge music and fashion, eventually going on to debut her own fashion line L.A.M.B. in 2004. We love that she made a metal mouth look cool back in 1999.
Animal Instincts17 of 24
A tanned and toned Britney Spear performed of "I'm a Slave 4 U" in 2001. Her routine featured a number of exotic animals, including a white tiger and a live albino Burmese Python, but the most wild thing on the stage was Brit herself in belly dancing costume, and the moves to work it. MTV later named her act the most memorable moment in VMA history.
From The Block18 of 24
The music video for Jennifer Lopez's single "I'm Gonna Be Alright' was filmed back in the star's hometown of the Bronx, New York. In silver hoop earrings and a string bikini, Jenny repped her block well—and helped bring street style back.
London Calling19 of 24
Fergie (aka "The Dutchess") showed off her famous abs as a naughty British schoolgirl in her video for "London Bridge." We doubt Kate Middleton could pull off those booty shorts—even with the classic Burberry print.
Hit Single20 of 24
Beyonce spoke for all the "Single Ladies" in her 2009 anthem, performed here at the Video Music Awards. Sporting an ornate silver leotard, fishnet stockings, and one silver glove (an homage to the King of Pop?), the once-single lady was the epitome of fashion fierceness.
Nailing It21 of 24
This "California Gurl" may be known for her hit pop songs, but Katy Perry's propensity for nail art helps set her apart. Her digits have been adorned with Smurfs and gumballs, although her most famous mani is probably this Russell Brand-inspired set. The reason behind them? So her now-hubbie could be at the 2010 Awards "in spirit," she Tweeted.
Red Hot22 of 24
In an apparent homage to Madonna, Rihanna performed in a lacy white bustier and skirt complete with a cross necklace at MTV's 2010 Video Music Awards. But not even Madge could boast as many hairstyles as this star, who has gone from pixie cut to pompadour, and from black to fire engine red. What will she think of next?
In Her Glory23 of 24
Only Lady Gaga would be armed with three outfits in one night, all of them equally jaw-dropping. Before the infamous meat dress as her third look, the current "Queen of Pop" wore an Alexander McQueen ensemble, complete with lobster claw heels and a headdress. Long may she reign!
Out Of This World24 of 24
Just when we thought the looks at the VMAs couldn't get any more wacky, Nicki Minaj, winner of a Best Hip Hop video Moon Man, proves us wrong. Her geometric, space-age cartoon outfit (costume?) takes the cake—or, in this case, the ice cream cone around her neck.
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