September 4, 2018 | by James Greene, Jr.
What can you say about the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards? They were so pointedly 1996. Smashing Pumpkins took home Video of the Year for their Le Voyage dans la Lune tribute, "Tonight, Tonight." Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" beat out clips from Björk, Jewel, and Tracy Chapman to win Best Female Video. Coolio won Best Rap Video, Best Dance Video, and Best Video From a Film. Beck was presented with Best Male Video by the original lineup of Van Halen; apparently the '80s rock titans were planning a reunion. Alas, David Lee Roth's behavior at this media-heavy event (including constant mugging as Beck gave his acceptance speech) soured the remainder of Van Halen on the idea.
And so Earth wept as Eddie and Alex moved on to hire Gary Cherone for the abysmal Van Halen III. At least we had the KISS reunion. Following a white-hot moment at a 1995 "MTV Unplugged" taping, the four founding members of KISS decided to slam the lid on their in-the-weeds makeup-free years. They donned the greasepaint again for a surprise cameo with Tupac at the February '96 Grammys; two months later, KISS announced the Alive Worldwide Reunion Tour. Truly a KISStoric moment.
KISS closed out the '96 VMAs, which took place on September 4, performing a mini-concert at Fulton Ferry Landing under the Brooklyn Bridge (though MTV only aired the first song). Dennis Miller, the evening's too-cool-for-everything host, introduced the group with his trademark detachment; he is immediately trampled (figuratively) by a blast of fireworks and Paul Stanley's opening rap, delivered (as usual) like a WWE superstar.
"Everywhere around the world, we try to tell people that there are no borders, there are no prime ministers, there are no presidents — there's only one nation, that's the KISS nation, there's only one rock 'n' roll anthem, 'Rock & Roll All Nite, Party Every Day!'"
Still in that reunion honeymoon period, KISS seems like they're having a blast playing for MTV and Brooklyn and the investors and the solar system and anyone else listening. It really is tremend-KISS and KISS-spiring, just KISS-tastic. It's KISS-appointing that Peter Criss and Ace Frehley eventually left the KISS-pendous reunion that's continuing to this day. Guess somebody owes somebody else a KISS-pology.
Another very 1996 moment from this awards special: Dennis Miller chatting with Mir space station cosmonauts Valery Korzun and Aleksandr Kaleri live via satellite. This begs the question — do people in Russia give a pigeon's taint about Dennis Miller? What kind of business did Bordello of Blood do over there?