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Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande kick off MTV VMAs

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm •  Published: August 24, 2014

Nicki Minaj helped open the MTV Video Music Awards with a "Bang" as she brought her "Anaconda" video to life with a rump-shaking performance and had a wardrobe malfunction when she performed with Ariana Grande and Jessie J.

Minaj first wore a green top and shorts, rapping, dancing and exciting the crowd — except Rita Ora, who stared blankly when the camera panned by. But when Minaj performed "Bang Bang," the rapper was far more subdued as she held the front of her outfit together after a long split appeared.

Snakes, though, were not part of the Sunday night's performance. Days before the VMAs, a 6-foot-long boa constrictor bit a background dancer during a rehearsal for Minaj's performance, MTV News reported.

Grande kicked off the show with a performance of her EDM hit, "Break Free" in a Beyonce-inspired leotard.

Katy Perry won the first award, best female video for the hit "Dark Horse."

"We are gonna party tonight," she said.

The 2014 VMAs will also include performances by Beyonce, Iggy Azalea and Taylor Swift. The night will feature mix a serious social message in along with the anticipated performances.

MTV President Stephen Friedman said in a statement Sunday just hours before the show that the network would air a 15-second spot focusing on race in hopes of spurring a discussion about the events surrounding the Aug. 9 police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed when he was killed.

He became an instant symbol of racial injustice as protesters flooded into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and the federal government has launched an investigation.

"It's a call to action to our audience that we have to confront our own bias head-on before we can truly create change," Friedman said.

The announcement only added to the buildup to what is annually one of music's most dramatic and unpredictable awards show. Already there have been snake bites and stage slips.

Days before the big show, Azalea slipped offstage while performing "Fancy" at a MTV benefit concert, later posting the video on Instagram and making fun of herself. At a rehearsal, a show worker fell from one of the winding, sloping platforms on the stage at the Forum in Inglewood, California, which reopened in January after a $100 million makeover. And rap mogul Suge Knight was injured in a shooting early Sunday at a West Hollywood nightclub for an unofficial pre-VMA party hosted by Chris Brown.

The back-to-back drama made the popular awards trend on social media even before an award was handed out, though trophies often take a back seat at the VMAs, which are all about the moments. And the show will likely provide even more memorable moments, much like last year's VMAs, which we will call the Video Miley Awards.

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