Lose Yourself in the Nostalgia of the 2003 MTV VMAs

We can't believe it's been twenty years since one of the most talked-about award shows, which featured Britney Spears and Madonna hitting the stage, took place. Take a look back at the 2003 MTV VMAs.

By Kisha Forde Sep 12, 2023 7:00 AMTags
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The year was 2003—and it was the kiss heard seen around the world.

Yes, we're referring to the showstopping performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards that saw Britney Spears, Madonna and Christina Aguilera hit the stage to sing "Like a Virgin" and "Hollywood," only to leave viewers talking for years to come when the "Material Girl" singer locked lips with each of her co-performers.

And though Britney and Madonna were the ones who took center stage (thanks to a cutaway shot of Britney's ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake—with whom she had split a year prior—looking on in the audience), let's not forget the "Genie in a Bottle" singer's presence also cemented an iconic moment in pop culture history.

However, despite it becoming quite a huge deal immediately afterward, Madonna simply didn't see why everyone was so hung up on the PDA.

"I've been oblivious until this moment," she said during an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show just weeks later. "I had no idea that it was going to cause the ruckus that it caused. It was just a friendly kiss. I don't know why people are making such a big deal about it."

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But the trio weren't the only ones that served a notable moment that year. After all, Beyoncé hit the stage for her first performance as a solo artist alongside the man who would later become her husband: Jay-Z.

And that's not all that happened that night. Keep reading for a look back at the 2003 VMAs.

Hilary Duff

Let's go back (yes, back to the beginning). The Lizzie McGuire star showed that her appearance was what dreams were made of in 2003.

Jessica Simpson

It simply wouldn't have been a public affair without Jessica Simpson (and her stunning white suit) making an entrance.

Mary Kate Olsen & Ashley Olsen

The Olsen twins weren't just there for a New York minute. In fact, Mary-Kate and Ashley served as presenters for Best Pop Video during that year's ceremony.

Britney Spears & Madonna

Who could forget when Britney Spears and Madonna, as well Madonna and Christina Aguilera, shared onstage kisses during their unforgettable performance? Twenty years later, and the world is still pretty hung up on it.

Carmen Electra & Dave Navarro

Remember when Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro were a couple? In fact, this photo of the then-couple was taken three months before they tied the knot. Alas, the model filed for divorce nearly three years later in 2006.

Justin Timberlake

The "Cry Me a River" performer took home a Moonman that year for Best Male Video. However, his award wasn't the only moment he was in the spotlight. Let's not forget that cameras infamously zoomed in on his reaction after his ex Britney and Madonna shared that kiss during their performance.

Avril Lavigne

There was nothing complicated about Avril's reign in the early aughts. After all, her appearance at the 2003 VMAs was a little over a year after she released her debut album Let Go—and the rest, of course, is history.

Lindsay Lohan

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Red Carpet Queen: The actress, who attended the ceremony just weeks after the premiere of Freaky Friday, wore a black corset paired with a white button-down shirt and denim for her red carpet look.


Twenty years later and we're still crazy in love with the "Naughty Girl" singer's sparkling look on the red carpet.

Solange Knowles

But Beyoncé wasn't the only Knowles member in the building, as her younger sister Solange was also in attendance.

Jessica Alba

The Honey star, who wore a black leather dress for the event, flashed a sweet smile ahead of the ceremony.

Kim Cattrall

The Sex and the City star was front and center on the red carpet, wearing a stunning sleeveless tan gown with embellished detail.

50 Cent & Vivica A. Fox

The former couple, who began dating earlier that year—they ultimately split in 2004—showed up and showed out in matching grey ensembles.

Black Eyed Peas

The band, which featured Fergie as a member at the time, met MTV more than halfway that year, hitting the stage to perform "Where Is The Love?"

Paris Hilton & Nicky Hilton

Loves it! Paris and Nicky Hilton attended the event as a stylish sister duo.

Christina Aguilera

The "Come on Over Baby" singer had four nominations underneath her belt going in that night, but her onstage kiss with Madonna (alongside Britney, of course) that became the talked-about moment from the ceremony.

Serena Williams & Venus Williams

Game, set, match: The tennis legends were seen posing in matching mini skirts on the red carpet.


The "Rock Wit U" singer, who earned a nomination for Best R&B Video for her single that year, arrived pretty in pink.

Good Charlotte

Flying high from the success of their 2002 song, "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous," the band earned a nomination that night for Best Rock Video.

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