Taylor Swift won Video of the Year and shared smiles with Nicki Minaj at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards ceremony — during which she also presented a lifetime-achievement award and an open mic to Kanye West.
Miley Cyrus, Kanye West top VMA highlights
In winning Video of the Year, Swift’s “Bad Blood” beat out Beyoncé (“7/11”), Ed Sheeran (“Thinking Out Loud”), Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars (“Uptown Funk”) and Kendrick Lamar (“Alright”).
Swift thanked Lamar, whose rap is featured on “Bad Blood,” and thanked her video co-stars, all of whom are women in show business. “There are two women in the video who I’ve named cats after,” she said. “I love them so much. … There’s been a lot of discussion this video and what it means, but I’m just happy that, in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses, and girls can play soldiers.”
Congratulating Swift for winning that award, host Miley Cyrus had an upper-body wardrobe malfunction while wrapping herself behind a curtain backstage. The camera cut to a shot of the stage when the moment occurred. “What’s happening?” asked Cyrus, who changed in and out of many unusual outfits throughout the evening. “Oh, sorry. My [breast] is out?” Once clothed again, Cyrus closed the show with a live performance.
Swift also won Best Female Video and Best Pop Video awards for another one of her music videos, “Blank Space.”
Minaj opened the show with a raucous medley of “Trini Dem Girls” and “The Night is Still Young,” with the latter featuring a surprise duet with none other than Swift, who’d exchanged some tense tweets with Minaj and calling a truce just a few weeks earlier. The latter song transitioned into Swift’s hit “Bad Blood,” which allowed Minaj to show off a few more dance moves.
The evening’s first presenter, VMAs vet Britney Spears, declared the performance an “instant-classic VMA performance,” then awarded the Best Male Video award to the ubiquitous “Uptown Funk.”
Swift later presented the Video Vanguard Award to West, who famously crashed her 2009 VMAs acceptance speech. “I first met Kanye West six years ago — at this show actually!” she said, while giving him the lifetime-achievement award. “Since then, we’ve had a lot of time to talk about a lot of different things.”
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The rapper smiled when Swift revealed that his album “College Dropout,” was the “very first album that my brother and I bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old.” She added, “I have been a fan of his, since I can remember, because Kanye defines what is to be a creative force in music, fashion and, well, life. So, I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight: I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time!”
West hugged Swift after he took the stage to accept a gold version of Jeremy Scott’s redesigned Video Music Award trophy. “First of all, thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious in giving me this award this evening,” he said, then shifted his tone. “And I often think back to the first day I met you, also.”
He spoke of some of the backlash he’s experienced over the last six years, including being booed by tens of thousands of people at a baseball game: “I think, ‘If I had to do it all again, what would I have done?'”
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West added he’s still conflicted by that moment, by his reactions, and by the backlash. “You know how many times MTV ran that footage again, ’cause it got them more ratings?” West asked. “You know how many times they said Taylor was going to give me the award, because it got them more ratings? I still don’t understand award shows. … I just wanted people to like me more. But [forget] that, bro! [In] 2015, I will die for the art, for what I believe in. And the art ain’t always gonna be polite.”
After a few more thoughts, West concluded, “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for president,” then dropped his mic.
When Minaj’s “Anaconda” won the VMA for Best Hip-Hop Video, the rapper thanked her fans and one of her mentors. “This is so random: You know who I want to thank tonight? My pastor,” Minaj said during her acceptance speech. “Thank you, Pastor Lydia, I love you so much.”
The VMA for Video with a Social Message went to “One Man Can Change the World,” by Big Sean, West, and John Legend.
During the opening monologue, Cyrus noted that the VMAs hadn’t “had a host for the last two years: a tradition they’ll probably return to immediately following tonight’s show. Now, I have literally done everything on the VMAs stage, and none of it showed that I was qualified to host, but here we are.”
In 2013, Cyrus twerked up a firestorm of controversy when she collaborated with Robin Thicke for a suggestive VMAs performance; a year later, she won the Video of the Year VMA for “Wrecking Ball.”
Throughout this year’s ceremony, Cyrus also appeared in several pre-taped comedy sketches with guest stars ranging from Andy Samberg to Snoop Dogg.
Moments before the ceremony began, Cyrus stopped by the pre-show telecast in a shimmering dress whose top consisted of little more than perfectly placed silver suspenders and whose skirt was reminiscent of a chandelier. “I cannot wait for everyone to see [the show],” she said before the ceremony. “It’s been probably the most magical week of my life.”
“Trap Queen” rapper Fetty Wap won the Artist to Watch award, formerly known as Best New Artist.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, The Weeknd, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, and Tori Kelly were among the other acts to deliver high-energy hits during the ceremony.
During the pre-show, Fall Out Boy accepted the Best Rock Video award for their recent smash, “Uma Thurman,” the Song of Summer award was given to 5 Seconds of Summer, for their hit, “She’s Kinda Hot,” and Swift introduced the debut of her new music video for “Wildest Dreams.”
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