A History of Adam Levine's Rocky Relationship With the MTV Video Music Awards

Adam Levine, MTV VMAs
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV

Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael of Maroon 5 attend the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif.

Maroon 5 has been nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards over its more than decade-long career, winning best new artist in 2004 with "This Love." But that hasn't stopped the group's frontman, Adam Levine, from throwing noticeable shade at the awards show over the years.

Fans got a taste of Levine's rocky relationship with the VMAs during this year's ceremony on Sunday (Aug 27), when the 38-year-old singer unleashed a string of insults aimed at what he called an "utterly horrible" awards show. And it's far from the first time Levine has lashed out at the VMAs -- even during ceremonies where he's performed himself.

Below, brush up on the history of Levine's touchy relationship with the VMAs, including all the Twitter burns and sly insults we could find.

2004 VMAs: Maroon 5 takes home its first (and only) win

The VMAs made a number of big moves for the awards show's 20th anniversary, taking the ceremony to Miami's American Airlines Arena and foregoing a host. It was also a historic moment for Maroon 5, which snagged their first -- and to date, only -- Moonman (pre-change to Moon Person) for best new artist with "This Love," beating out Yellowcard, JoJo and Kanye West

2007 VMAs: Maroon 5 snatches another nomination

Maroon 5 earned a best group nomination for the iconic 2007 VMAs, but it was Fall Out Boy who took home the win. Levine seems to have taken the setback in stride, but it wouldn't be long before his beef with the VMAs would boil over...

2011 VMAs: "A line in the sand"

Here's where things start to get ugly. Levine's issues with the VMAs seem to have began brewing in 2011, when the singer called the awards show the "one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music" in an angry Twitter post. MTV hit the singer back on Twitter with a lighthearted jab -- “Soooo you’ll be tuning in at 9/8C tomorrow right?" -- but Levine wasn't playing around. 

2012 VMAs: Maroon 5's "Payphone" earns a nomination

Levine may not have been an MTV fan circa 2012, but the VMAs were still showing Maroon 5 love. The group snagged a best pop video nomination for its megahit "Payphone" with Wiz Khalifa, though it lost out in the end to One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful." 

2013 VMAs: "Used to be so awesome"

The 2013 edition of the VMAs made headlines with an 'NSYNC reunion, Lady Gaga's show-stopping performance of "Applause" and Miley Cyrus' infamous, twerk-filled rendition of "We Can't Stop." But Levine was not impressed. "The VMA's used to be so awesome," the singer tweeted, with no further explanation.

2014 VMAs: Maroon 5 makes debut VMA performance

Despite the string of anti-VMA tweets that had accumulated in Levine's feed by 2014, Maroon 5 made its debut live VMA performance that year, offering a rendition of "Maps" after being introduced by presenters Jason Derulo and Demi Lovato as one of "pop music's enduring artists." The appearance didn't stop Levine from his usual VMA ranting, though he toned down the insults this time around, criticizing the awards show for -- of all things -- its lack of pants.

2015 VMAs: Maroon 5's "Sugar" takes a nomination, and Levine takes...a shower?

Maroon 5 cinched a best pop video nod in 2015 for "Sugar," but it wasn't long before Levine started his usual VMA takedown on Twitter. In fact, it took all of "five minutes."

2017 VMAs: "Utterly horrible"

Though Levine seems to have taken a break from his usual rants for the 2016 VMAs, he was back at it on Sunday (Aug 27), delivering quite possibly his most brutal takedown of the awards show ever. Levine pulled out the middle finger for this one -- and the caps lock -- noting that it's "always exciting to see how utterly horrible the VMAs will be." At least this time, the singer offered some explanation for his insults, complaining in subsequent tweets that Julia Michaels' performance was cut short by a commercial break.

As for 2018? With Maroon 5's new single, "What Lovers Do," out Wednesday (Aug 30), the group could have another VMA nomination on their hands next year. What it would take for Levine to make peace with the awards show, though, is another matter. 

MTV Video Music Awards 2017


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.