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Rihanna, One Direction, Frank Ocean & More: 7 Best Moments from 2012 VMAs (VIDEO)

One Direction snags three Moonmen, Frank Ocean and Rihanna turn in powerhouse performances, and Snooki gets slammed. Shannon Donnelly on highlights from the Video Music Awards, music’s wildest night.

09.07.12 8:45 AM ET

All Hail Queen Rihanna

It’s fitting that Rihanna—who later bagged the evening’s biggest prize, Video of the Year, for “We Found Love”—kicked off the Video Music Awards seated in the second-most-imposing throne in television history. With what is surely the most groin-centric performance ever given by anyone-not-Michael-Jackson, Rihanna delivered the first of many buzzworthy moments in a night ruled by powerhouse performances from fresh faces like Frank Ocean, and veteran rockers like Green Day.

Biting the (Orange) Hand

Oh, the indignity! (Which isn’t, of course, to imply that dignity was a factor in the Jersey Shore equation to begin with.) Now that MTV’s flagship show has been canceled, host Kevin Hart felt comfortable ribbing its star, Snooki. “The baby daddy thought he was gonna get a little nookie from Snooki. Messed around and got stuck, now he’s sitting at home like, ‘What the [bleep]?!’” He also implored her not to spray-paint her baby orange. We can all agree tanning + moms=bad, right? Hart then segued into the Kristen Stewart fracas, joining Jodie Foster in the “get over it, people” camp.

Pink Puckers Up

Oh hey, here’s a really weird recurring VMA trend—high-flying stunts! Last year saw Chris Brown swinging Spidey-style over the crowd, and this year, Pink took up the mantle, looping into a thin rope (and hopefully a sturdy harness) and channeling her inner Cirque freak to sail over the audience. And that was the normal part of the performance, considering she was later joined on stage by a trippy cadre of dancing giant lips.

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The Emotion of the Ocean

Frank Ocean had a lot of buzz going into the VMAs, which marked his highest-profile performance since coming out as bisexual in July. He was woefully underserved by a baffling and bland beach bonfire backdrop, but his simple and soulful rendition of “Thinkin' Bout You" was easily one of the evening’s performance highlights.

The New British Invasion Arrives, Conquers

Brit boy band One Direction have been making waves Stateside for a while now, but they indisputably cemented their celebrity by bringing home three Moonmen—for Best Pop Video, Best New Artist, and Most Share-Worthy Video—in their very first VMA outing, while their performance of “One Thing” whipped the fans into a frenzy. Presenter Katy Perry gave a chaste kiss to each of the boys after their Best New Artist win, which should be enough to net her a voodoo doll of her likeness sometime soon.

‘Twilight’ Approaches 

Twihards will both rejoice and mourn over this bittersweet, last-ever VMA sneak peek of an upcoming Twilight movie. Non-Twihards, on the other hand, can rest easy knowing the madness is almost over—though there are still plenty of YA frenzy-potential adaptations like The Hunger Games, Beautiful Creatures, and The Mortal Instruments lurking in the wings…

MTV Squashes Hopes of Two Remaining Taylor Squared Fans 

Please forgive the “Get off my lawn, you damned kids!” fustiness of the statement which is about to follow: Nowadays, it seems like young pop idols are in a big rush to grow up and look as old as possible well before their time, so it was a delightful change of pace to see the VMAs get closed out by a fresh-faced, vibrant, and unapologetically youthful Taylor Swift singing her infectious hit, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” That being said, someone in MTV’s control room has a go-for-the-jugular sense of humor, giving the viewers at home a nice, lingering shot of Swift’s ex, Taylor Lautner, right after the song ended. Yikes.