Even before social media took over the Internet, the BET Awards kept the world talking with star-studded surprises and once-in-a-lifetime performances. The touching moment of respect shared between Michael Jackson and James Brown at the third BET Awards in 2003 set the tone for countless other meaningful moments that shocked us and brought smiles, laughs, and tears. From Destiny’s Child’s jaw-dropping dance moves in 2005 to the Fugees reunion that warmed our hearts that same year, the BET Awards are never short on unforgettable moments. The power of social media has proven how significant these moments are by adding numbers that show the impact in real time. With the 2022 nominees soon to be announced, everyone wants to know who will have the timeline talking this year. Here are the five most viral moments in BET Awards history:
2012: D'Angelo Rises For The BET Awards Audience
For the first time in 12 years, R&B enigma D’Angelo gave his first televised musical performance at the 2012 BET Awards. The crowd was shocked to see the mysterious soul man perform his timeless classic “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” proving to fans who missed him while on his extended sabbatical that he still had it going on. The electric performance set social media ablaze and set the stage for D’Angelo’s comeback album Black Messiah, which dropped in 2014 to universal acclaim.
2015: Rihanna Throws Her Money
Rihanna knows how to steal the show and 2015’s BET Awards ended with everyone talking about her viral boss move. Inspired by her smash hit “B**** Better Have My Money,” the 2011 and 2013 R&B/Pop Artist of the year collaborated with BET executives to troll the entire world. The audience thought they were seeing behind-the-scenes footage of Rihanna throwing a stack of cash at the BET bosses before taking the stage to perform for stunned fans. It was later revealed to be a prank, but the impact it had on our timelines will live on forever.
2016: Jesse Williams' Black Lives Matter Speech
Few speeches about social justice have been as shared and reacted to as Jesse Williams’ speech at the 2016 BET Awards. While accepting the BET Humanitarian Award, esteemed actor and activist Williams gave an impassioned speech that demanded the entertainment industry and society at large take the Black Lives Matter message seriously. His most lasting quote was reshared constantly on social media for months: “Just Because We’re Magic, Does Not Mean We’re Not Real.”
2019: Lil Baby And City Girls Establish Their Superstardom
After his City Girls-assisted performance of “Act Up,” Lil Baby went solo with “Close Friends” & “Pure Cocaine.” The young stars were on point throughout the performance, and social media got to talking after realizing that Young Miami was actually pregnant while she did her thing. Years later, we can do the math and know for sure, but Miami held it down like a soldier because most people wouldn’t have noticed if not for the nosey folks on social media.
2020: Megan Thee Stallion Steals The Show
Megan Thee Stallion’s Mad Max-inspired performance at the 2020 BET Awards brought the heat for another Hot Girl Summer during the heart of the pandemic. Unphased by a national quarantine, Megan crushed her first-ever BET Awards main stage performance, giving an all-out stunning rendition of “Girls in the Hood” and “Savage Remix.” She went on to win the 2020 Best Female Artist Win that night, accepting her award in a sexy all-black get up that had the timeline going crazy. Tune in to this year’s ceremony to see what sexy surprises Meg has in store for 2021.
Watch the 2022 BET Awards on June 26 at 8/9C p.m.