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For those upset about Megan Thee Stallion, Ava Max and CNCO being relegated to the pre-show VMA performance slot, let’s put things in perspective.


Following this week’s performer lineup announcement for the 2019 VMA pre-show, many fans were quick to ask why their respective favorites weren’t given due justice with a main stage booking. And while we would love to see all of these fantastic artists prove themselves on the main stage, it’s important to remember that a VMA pre-show booking is a much more coveted affair than many remember.


History shows that booking a VMA pre-show gig is no small feat. In fact, the VMA red carpet is where some of the industry’s biggest names got started before eventually booking the main stage (and even opening the show). Continue reading below for a list of superstars from Cardi B, Ariana Grande to Avril Lavigne who went through the same rite of passage before making it big.



Cardi B (2017)

Cardi B went on to win three VMA awards of her massive 13 nominations (the most of any artist) at the 2018 award show just one year after her pre-show performance. The rapper most recently was bestowed a huge honor when she was chosen to open the 2018 ceremony.


Lizzo (2016)

Once booked as a red carpet personality for the 2016 award show, Lizzo is now moving to the main stage for Monday’s epic event. The singer/rapper will also compete for the coveted “Best New Artist” award against stiff competition like Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and H.E.R.


Fifth Harmony (2014)

It seems outrageous that one of the world’s biggest girl groups was booked as a red carpet performance back in 2014, but history showed that their hard work effort eventually paid off. Fifth Harmony went on to win three VMAs (more than Destiny’s Child) and create one of the most memorable moments of the 2017 VMAs with their performance of “Down” featuring Gucci Mane.


Ariana Grande (2013)

Ariana Grande made a pit stop at the 2013 VMAs red carpet during her transition from a Nickelodeon personality to full-fledged pop star. She went on to win two VMAs for “Best Pop Video” and is currently tied for the most nominations at the 2019 ceremony with Taylor Swift (10).


Demi Lovato (2012)

Despite being a household name among her younger fans, Demi Lovato made the smart move to perform her Top 20 hit, “Give Your Heart A Break” at the 2012 VMA pre-show. The best-selling artist has earned eight VMA nominations and one win for “Video With A Message.”


Nicki Minaj & Will.I.Am (2010)

Just a couple of months before the release of her debut album, ‘Pink Friday,’ future rap icon Nicki Minaj started from more humble beginnings as a 2010 pre-show performer with Will.I.Am. Booking Minaj for the main stage in 2019 would be a no-brainer today given her massive fanbase and larger-than-life stage presence.


Fergie (2006)

Fergie proved with her 2006 “London Bridge” performance that you can make just as big a splash on the red carpet as you could the main stage. The icon is now a household name outside of the Black Eyed Peas and went on to win the VMA for “Best Female Video” in 2007.


Rihanna (2005)

Even Rihanna, one of the world’s most powerful pop forces, got her start in the industry on the VMA’s red carpet. The televised performance helped to further promote Rihanna in the general public before she was eventually was honored with the prestigious Michael Jackson Vanguard award in 2016.


Avril Lavigne (2002)

Avril Lavigne absolutely nailed her performance of “Complicated” atop the Radio City Music Hall sign for the 2002 VMA pre-show. She won “Best New Artist” the same year and today is considered a worthy contender for the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award through her sheer influence alone.


Other notable VMA Pre-Show performers: Alessia Cara; Troye Sivan; Usher; Nick Jonas; Khalid; Backstreet Boys; Foo Fighters; Beck.


Will you be tuning in to the VMA pre-show? Share your thoughts with us at @PopCrave!