This week marks twenty years since a 19-year-old Fiona Apple walked on to the stage at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards and declared that the world was bullshit.
Accepting the award from Elton John, she went on to say to “everybody out there who’s watching, everybody that’s watching this world, this world is bullshit. And you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself. Go with yourself.” Twenty years later, it’s still true.
To celebrate her act of legendary defiance, here’s a look at some other historical examples of musicians biting the hand that feeds them. Please note, this list would be topped by Tool’s 2002 Grammy speech if video evidence of it existed. If it did, you’d hear Danny Carey thank “my parents for putting up with the cacophony I created for 15 or 20 years, Bientje, and Satan”, and Justin Chancellor thank “Alex Grey for doing our artwork and my mom for doing my dad.” Bless.
Pearl Jam, 1996 Grammys
Man, watching footage like this just proves how little we know about not giving a fuck. Back in ’96, Eddie Vedder gave so few of them that he made even talking seem like a chore. When he finally pushed his mouth to the limits by accepting Pearl Jam’s Grammy for their song ‘Spin The Black Circle’, he simply mumbled “I don’t know what this means, I don’t think it means anything.” See? None given.
Kanye West, 2008 American Music Awards
Before Kanye became a regular rambler at award ceremonies, he dropped this bomb of a thank you speech when his third album, Graduation, won best rap/hip hop album. With the gift of hindsight, we can all see that this was the beginning of the end, but like, he just wanted to be Elvis, y’know?
Marilyn Manson, 1997 MTV Awards
This is mental. Technically not an acceptance speech, but I’m pretty confident that he’d have delivered the exact same address as his intro to his 1997 performance had he won an ward that year. In retrospect, I never gave Manson the credit he deserved for how fucking weird and unafraid he really was in his peak. It’s also fun to note that he delivered his whole “we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of Christianity” schtick to an audience that included Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton.
Nirvana, 1992 MTV Awards
Kurt Cobain: “Don’t believe everything you read.”
Krist Novoselic: “Remember Joseph Goebbels!”
Are you kidding me?!?!
Eminem, 2002 MTV Awards
This one is kind of just hilarious because of how tacky the early 2000s were. Christina Aguilera was going through her whole ‘dirty’ phase, and she had to present Eminem his award after he’d just rapped about who she’d given head to first, Carson Daily or Fred Durst? But the best part is the beef between Moby and Eminem after ‘Without Me’ came out, where Eminem rapped “You don’t know me, you’re too old, let go, it’s over, nobody listens to techno.” Fighting through the boos when he mentions Moby in his speech, Eminem stops and promises, “Keep booing little girl. I will hit a man in glasses.” Lols for days.
Jerry Seinfeld, 2007 HBO Honor Award
Not a musician/don’t care/funniest man alive. The part about giving awards to actors—unbeatable. “We must honour this man, he pretended to be Bob Johnson!”