2012 MTV VMA Performances: Check Out The Highlights!


One Direction, Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, and Rihanna all perform at the VMAs! Plus some surprise guests!

OK guys, the 2012 MTV VMAs are finally here. I'm dying! I'm kvelling! ::Reaches for paper bag to breath into:: Yeah, I think the entire internet knows by now that We. Are. Crazy. Excited. About. This. We know there's practically a metric ton of stuff to watch between tonight's performances, presenters, "Oh Sh*t" moments, and thank y'all speeches, but really, we have to ask: What would any VMAs show be without its performers? It's practically all we spent the last eight plus weeks blogging about! (And dreaming about.) And if you've been following along like a good Belieber or Directioner, you would already know that Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Alicia Keys, Pink, One Direction, Green Day, and more all take the stage at this year's show. So follow along with us as we take you through each of tonight's performances, mmmkay? Here we go!

Read up on each of the 2012 MTV VMA performances after the jump!

Rihanna kills it in red on the VMA stage.

+ RIHANNA PERFORMS "COCKINESS" / "WE FOUND LOVE" WITH A$AP ROCKY: Woah. We always knew Rihanna knew how to make an entrance, but HE-LLOO NURSE. We are officially enthralled. Rihanna bravely opened the 2012 MTV VMAs by entering the stage all decked out in red (and sitting on a THRONE!) Queen Ri. We know. Encased in a crazy, neon green light show, Rihanna strolled out on the stage (well, "strolled" being a kinder word for..."gyrating"). As "Cockiness" blended into "We Found Love," Rihanna walked out into the audience (which we think totally does justice to the track's club-ready beat). Soon after, A$AP Rocky joined Rihanna for a little side-by-side singing/rapping. And don't think we didn't catch you stealing that neck kiss, A$SAP! Saucy.

+Watch Rihanna perform "Cockiness" and "We Found Love" with A$AP Rocky.

We are FEELING those shorts, Pink!

+ PINK PERFORMS "BLOW ME (ONE LAST KISS)": Pink kicked off her performance in front of an electric snare drum kit (little drummer Pink?) donning sparkly hot pants and a wicked faux hawk...and then sang the opening lines to "Get the Party Started." Swoon! Throwback! We're also swooning over Pink's OTHER VMA throwback -- remember that time Pink went flying into the air via trapeze? Well, she did it again! After her feet touched back down to Earth (er, the VMA stage) Pink sang an energetic rendition of "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" among some leggy giant lips. Yes, you heard that right. Then the leggy lips spat out some confetti onto the crowd. Now, there's a sentence we never thought we'd type. Well, I guess you just had to be there. But it was COOL. Well done, Pink!!

+Watch Pink perform "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)."

Frank Ocean slows things down with a soulful rendition of "Thinkin' About You."

+ FRANK OCEAN PERFORMS "THINKIN' ABOUT YOU": Yeah, we're going to be thinking about Frank Ocean long after this performance. For a long, long time. After two SUPER energetic performances by Rihanna and Pink, Frank Ocean took things down a notch by singing a considerably softer, more emotional rendition of "Thinkin' About You" while surrounded by a stunning, picturesque night sky and bonfire. Which only leads us to say...can we have some s'more Frank Ocean, please? Love.

+Watch Frank Ocean perform "Thinkin' About You."

One Direction performing "One Thing."

+ ONE DIRECTION PERFORM "ONE THING": Oh, Directioners. You guys must have LOST YOUR COOL over this! (Not that we were...or anything.) First thing we noticed: Harry, Liam, Niall, Zayne, and Louis sang "One Thing" with HUGE smiles on their faces (it was their first time performing, after all). They looked SO HAPPY. And the crowd went INSANE! Like, "That Thing You Do" / Beatles insane. Hair looking impeccable, the boys serenaded the crowd, and finished their performance by being lifted into the air on a crane/elevator-like apparatus. Like, JC-style. (Well obviously -- they really cleaned up tonight!) But our favorite part HAD to be the moment where Katy Perry was caught singing along into Rihanna's neck. GIF creators of the world: You're welcome.

Watch One Direction perform "One Thing".

Lil Wayne barely keeps his pants on during his VMA performance with 2 Chainz.

+ 2 CHAINZ AND LIL WAYNE PERFORM "YUCK" AND "NO WORRIES": Hey, look at that! 2 Chainz arrived on the VMA stage the same way One Direction exited! Via that elevator apparatus thing! Strung up in, yes, chains, 2 Chainz glittered in gold as he sang his opening verses before being joined onstage by Lil Wayne, who, of course, showed up shirtless (and totally on a baller skateboard). But oh, those pants! Those fantastic leopard-print pants. Thank you for those, Lil Wayne! We can exit this performance with having gotten a full view of your boxer'd derriere. Then, to finish off the set, Lil Wayne dove into the crowd, as one does.

Green Day got a little moshy during "Let Yourself  Go."

+ GREEN DAY PERFORMS "LET YOURSELF GO": Having first performed on the VMAs in 1994 (yipes! 1D's Harry Styles wasn't even born yet!), by now Green Day are totally old hands at this whole performing-on-live-TV thing. Billie Joe Armstrong & Co. succeeded in bringing the house down with some much-needed RAWK as they blasted their way through "Let Yourself Go." Decked out in full guyliner, Billie Joe looked fully recovered from his recent stint in the hospital (yay!), and ran through the set enveloped by strobe lights, and then later, the crowd itself. Moshing at the VMAs?? Well, I never.

+Watch Green Day perform "Let Yourself Go".

Alicia Keys pounds the piano keys while performing "Girl On Fire."

+ ALICIA KEYS PERFORMS "GIRL ON FIRE" WITH NICKI MINAJ: We feel A little like we're on fire ourselves after watching this powerful performance! A VMA vet all on her own, Alicia Keys kicked off her set atop a multilevel glowing stage, until she was joined by multicolored-wig wearing Nicki Minaj. Of course! As Alicia walked down the stairs, and closer to the audience, Olympic gold medal winner Gabby Douglas joined in by doing backflips on the stage (interpretive gymnastics?? YES!) And who caught that shot of Alicia's husband and baby watching in the audience? G'awww...

+Watch Alicia Keys perform "Girl On Fire" with Nicki Minaj.

Taylor Swift crowd surfs during "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

+ TAYLOR SWIFT PERFORMS "WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER": SWIFTIES! Are you still alive over there? Stylishly intimidating in her new video, Taylor Swift looked CHIC in vintage-inspired shorts, a red-and-white striped top, red lipstick, and her hair pulled back into a fully fringed ponytail. (Zooey Deschanel...are you taking notes?) You already know that song's been stuck in our heads for what already feels like years...but what we're giggling the most over is the camera's quick cut over to former paramour Taylor Lautner, who of course, wore the perfect ex expression of proud-meets-closure. And no, we still don't know who the song's about. Sad face!

 +Watch Taylor Swift performing "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

Get more VMA 2012 coverage on MTV with our Video Music Awards winners list, performance highlights, hottest red carpet photos and more VMA photos.

Photo credit: MTV

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