Ranking the 2014 VMA Performances

The Video Music Awards (VMAs) are arguably MTV's crowning jewel. They've been stunning audiences for years with outrageous celebrity attire and even more outrageous musical performances. While the overall show was considerably more tame than last year's Miley Cyrus fiasco, it was still an entertaining night full of wardrobe malfunctions, boy bands, and yes, even twerking. Here's how HCM ranked the eight performances from worst to best.

8. 5 Seconds of Summer - "Amnesia"

OK, I may have Googled them as soon as they appeared. But when I played one of their songs on YouTube, I immediately went: “Oh, those guys!” With a performance of their latest hit, “Amnesia,” the boys tried their best to reawaken our love for the 90s' with their sleeveless shirts and plaid around the waist. But they just don’t match up to the craze of their nemesis One Direction, both in audience reaction and overall presence. Although they get points for actually playing instruments. 

7. Iggy Azalea - "Black Widow"

I love everything that Iggy stands for and how she’s unapologetically herself. But this performance wasn’t anything special, especially for VMA standards. Even she looked bored during her performance of “Black Widow.” I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop raising my eyebrows at those Halloween costumes — I mean, outfits.

6. Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj/Jessie J - "Break Free"/"Anaconda"/"Bang Bang"

A good choice for a fun opener, but again, nothing spectacular. Ariana and Nicki played off each other nicely with a sugar and spice kind of alternating vibe. And Jessie J’s powerhouse vocals were definitely something to tweet about. 

5. Maroon 5 - "Maps"

Sure, we sometimes criticize Maroon 5 for their changing ways. I mean, listen to “She Will Be Loved” and “Moves Like Jagger” back-to-back and tell me one of those is not like the other. But you can’t deny that they really bring out their roots when they perform live. Adam Levine will always have a special place in our middle school hearts, especially when he makes us swoon in a remote location during the VMAs like at some kind of intimate music festival. Too bad he just married a Victoria’s Secret Model. Wah.

4. Usher - "She Came to Give It to You"

All I have to say is, he still got it.

3. Taylor Swift - "Shake It Off"

You can love her or hate her, but her latest single “Shake It Off” is impossible not to tap your foot to. Taylor pulled out all the stops in a roaring 20s’ kind of performance, complete with snappy backup dancers and a flapper dress to die for. For once, a performer actually looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage last night. Which means we enjoyed it too. Go, Tay!

2. Sam Smith - "Stay With Me"

Yes, the VMAs are infamous for giant snakes and inappropriate twerking, but sometimes all you need is an emotional ballad like “Stay With Me” to make the event memorable. Sam Smith’s tear-jerking performance of his biggest hit was definitely one of the highlights of last night. All he needs is a piano and a microphone. The rest will be history.

1. Beyonce - Her entire album basically

Did you think there would be any other choice for the No. 1 spot? She most definitely topped Justin Timberlake, the last year VMA long performer. From sensual renditions of “Blow” and “No Angel” to emotional ones of “Jealous” and “Blue,” Beyonce truly showed her reigning force over the music world. Scratch that — the entire world. Mix those performances with shots of her husband and daughter dancing and smiling along with her, and you have a speechless, tear-induced audience. It was a performance of a lifetime, maybe even better than her stellar Super Bowl mashup. And that’s what the VMAs are all about.