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Top 10 Unforgettable BET Awards Show Moments

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough There are some incredibly memorable moments from BET Awards such as when Destiny’s Child performed "Cater 2 U", Chris Brown’s tribute to Michael Jackson, D’Angelo’s Comeback Performance, Fugees Reunion, Usher’s “Yeah” Performance, when Cissy Houston paid tribute to Whitney Houston and when Michael Jackson honoured James Brown.

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Top 10 Unforgettable BET Awards Show Moments

At the BET Awards, everybody steps up their game. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 BET Awards Show Moments.

For this list, we’re focusing on the most unforgettable BET Awards show moments, whether they’re comedic, flamboyant or even heartbreaking.

#10: Destiny's Child Performs "Cater 2 U"


For this sensual performance, Beyoncé and the girls begin slow and then ramp it up, ultimately fulfilling the destiny of three satisfied men. At first, however, Destiny’s Child stands out with their organic movements and rather sleek dresses. But then, they mix in some crowd integration by inviting Magic Johnson, Nelly and Terrence Howard to the stage. With that, the elegant “Cater 2 U” performance transforms into a PG-13 burlesque show, with each woman getting up close and personal with the lucky gents. Even so, DC keeps it classy, balancing the art of seduction with pop culture entertainment.

#9: Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s "Déjà Vu" Performance


One year after her group lap dance, Beyoncé teamed up with her real-life man for a high-octane BET performance. Right from the start, Bey keeps it moving with her jovial stage presence, all the while looking stunning in her skimpy, silver getup. It’s mostly a flashy and dynamic performance - but when Jay-Z emerges, it highlights the obvious chemistry between the two icons. Plus, with the set design being relatively basic - full of bright lights and thrashing musicians - the focus is fully on Beyoncé, and she takes full advantage of her space with a seriously bossy performance.

#8: Chris Brown's Tribute to Michael Jackson


Context is everything for this dramatic BET moment. On one level, Chris Brown brilliantly executes his Michael Jackson routine –an admirable tribute to the King of Pop who passed away just one year prior. At the time, Brown was still dealing with personal issues – most notably domestic violence - and his emotions came pouring out during a tearful rendition of “Man in the Mirror.” Overall, the tribute paid proper respect to a musical legend. Some entertainers can hit all the right movies without revealing their inner emotions to the audience, yet Brown got caught up in the moment, providing for a very memorable BET Awards Show performance.

#7: D'Angelo's Comeback Performance


When D’Angelo takes the stage, it’s always a big moment. Back in 2012, though, the crooner hadn’t actually performed live in 12 years. So, when he opens up with his neo-soul classic “Untitled”, the audience naturally goes full on crazy. Like D’Angelo has been known to do, he blends the old with the new, as he transitions into a new joint called “Sugar Daddy” for a little extra fire. It’s one thing to hear D’Angelo and all his brilliant vocalizations, but this moment allows viewers to actually see his passion and remarkable performance bravado.

#6: Fugees Reunite


After dropping their iconic 1996 album “The Score,” the Fugees became M.I.A. within pop culture, and certainly at the BET Awards. But the crew returned in for a reunion performance in 2005, featuring their collective excellence on the mic. Unsurprisingly the enigmatic Lauryn Hill made headlines with a fresh look and new arrangement of “Killing Me Softly,” but it’s the context and hype factor that make this moment so important to BET Awards show history. Even though the Fugees never did release that anticipated next album, this 2005 performance shows that they could easily stay relevant and successful within the new digital era.

#5: Charlie Wilson's "Lifetime Achievement Award" Performance


After an elaborate tribute video to the one and only “Uncle Charlie,” he and some friends provide some classic R&B flavor. Decked out to perfection as usual, the former GAP Band singer first goes solo to give the audience some old hits. But since Charlie Wilson has inspired so many of today’s top artists, it only makes sense that some of his younger collaborators emerge to celebrate their Uncle’s legacy. In this moment, Charlie reminds that he’s still on top of his game, and the audience’s reception only reinforces that fact. It’s a highly touching tribute performance – one that demonstrates how the old school can inspire the new, and vice versa.

#4: Tribute for Prince’s Lifetime Achievement Award


Six years before his death, “The Artist” received the ultimate BET tribute, as multiple renowned musicians paid homage to his prolific career. For the most part, Prince stays his usual cool and collected self, complete with silky, self-referential pajamas. But it’s the pacing and tone of the collective performances that drives the collective renditions. Whether it’s the musical artistry or the performance techniques, everybody brings their A-Game, knowing full well that Prince wouldn’t expect anything less. It’s a lively production from beginning to end, with the immaculate Patti LaBelle closing it out like only she can.

#3: Rick James & Teena Marie’s Performance


In what would be his last public appearance, the iconic “Super Freak” teamed up with an old friend for a truly old school performance. Rick James and Teena Marie begin “Fire and Desire” from the crowd, providing some intimacy that complements their passionate vocals. It’s all about the nostalgic effect, with each artist trying to stretch each note for maximum effect. So, for the BET Awards, this moment took everybody back in time, and it’s even more special given that James would pass away a little over a month later, with Teena Marie ultimately moving on in 2010.

#2: Cissy Houston Pays Tribute to Whitney Houston


As an accomplished singer in her own right, Cissy Houston is no stranger to the stage. For this emotional performance, though, she maintains a sense of professionalism under the most difficult of circumstances. With a photographic backdrop conjuring up memories for the audience, Cissy stands strong with a vocal tribute to her late daughter, even if her mind was clearly in another place. The BET Awards are always a family affair, and this mother’s homage left the room speechless. It’s a heart-breaking performance that simply could not have been delivered by anybody else.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Kendrick Lamar & Erykah Badu’s "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" Performance


Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj & Chris Brown’s “All Eyes on You” Performance


Usher’s "Yeah” Performance


#1: Michael Jackson Honors James Brown


Let’s be real – it’s always a huge moment when two legends appear side by side. But sometimes, the amount of star power can almost be surreal, especially when the Godfather of Soul and the King of Pop traded dance moves in 2003. Beyond the performance, however, both men seem to recognize the importance of the moment, with Michael Jackson breaking down as he presented the Lifetime Achievement Award and James Brown providing his usual energy and bravado. So, as time passes and new icons emerge, this classic BET Awards Show moment reminds us of how artists like Michael Jackson and James Brown paved the way for future generations and helped transform the music industry as a whole. Six years later - and just six weeks after her brother’s death - Janet Jackson would then put this all into perspective at BET.

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