Taylor Swift reigns supreme at the MTV VMAS while Shakira makes history

Swift set the record for most wins in one night as Shakira became the first South American artist to win the Video Vanguard award, amid surprise reunions, backstage ‘drama’, and viral moments

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 13 September 2023 09:20 BST
Taylor Swift dances at 2023 MTV VMAs

Taylor Swift had a triumphant night at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, following a slightly chaotic, four-hour long ceremony that ended abruptly before the big winners were announced.

The night also belonged to Shakira, who walked the red carpet with her two sons, as the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer became the first South American artist honoured with the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said, during her red carpet appearance. “It’s such an important award. I mean, Michael Jackson received it once and so many other incredible artists, and I just feel humbled to be here.”

Going into Tuesday night’s (12 September) ceremony with the most nominations, Swift took home nine awards during the ceremony hosted by Nicki Minaj at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The glitzy award show was attended by stars such as actor Billy Porter, actor and rock singer Jared Leto, Tiffany Haddish, pop singer Bebe Rexha, rapper Cardi B and her husband Offset, Colombian singer Karol G, Saweetie, Italian rock band Maneskin, and pop star Demi Lovato.

With performances from “Bongos” collaborators Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, “Vampire” hitmaker Olivia Rodrigo, Best Latin award winner Anitta, Lil Wayne, P Diddy, and Doja Cat – among scores others – the three-hour ceremony promised to be an excellent time.

And the 2023 VMAs largely delivered, save a minor glitch as fans watching at home were left confused when the televised premiere ended without announcing Swift as the winner of Album of the Year or Artist of the Year.

Tuesday night’s sweep means Swift is now the record-holder for most VMA wins in one night. The pop superstar’s lifetime tally now sits at 23, making her the second-most decorated artist in the award show’s history after Beyoncé.

The 33-year-old musician also became the first artist to win Video of the Year four times, as she collected the prize for “Anti-Hero” on Tuesday night.

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“This is unbelievable. It’s really felt like the adventure of a lifetime this past year,” she said, during her acceptance speech. “I cannot believe that it was a year ago at the VMAs that I announced the Midnights album.

“All I have to say tonight is thank you.”

Taylor Swift won multiple awards at this year’s MTV VMAs

Currently in the middle of her billion-dollar Eras tour, Swift had every reason to celebrate, and could be seen dancing in her seat to almost every single performance on the night.

“Taylor dancing at award shows is literally my favourite thing ever,” one fan said, as Swift cheered on performances by Doja Cat, Demi Lovato, and Shakira, who delivered a show-stopping performance of her greatest hits.

She was spotted cheering for Olivia Rodrigo, who performed her smash hit “Vampire” at the show this year, as Swift’s fans declared the “non-existent beef has been squashed”.

They were referring to rumours of a feud, dating back to 2021 when Rodrigo gave Swift and her longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff writing credits and royalties for her song “Deja Vu”, which interpolated Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Where one feud ends, another begins – or so it appeared, as video footage from the first hour of the VMAs appeared to show Justin Timberlake and Megan Thee Stallion getting into an argument.

The clip showed Timberlake leaning into say something to the “Bongos” singer while she was getting ready backstage, before Megan responded emphatically then turned away “looking angry”, according to Variety.

(From left) Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick of former boy band NSYNC speak onstage during the MTV Video Music Awards

However, their interaction was the furthest thing from a fight, a source at the VMAs told the news outlet.

““He said, ‘It’s so nice to meet you,’ and she said ‘No, no this don’t count, this don’t count. We gotta meet proper.’”

“It was very cute,” the source added, confirming there’s “zero fight” between Megan and Timberlake, who also reunited with NYSNC 19 years after he left the boy band.

NSYNC members including Joey Fantone, Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez and Lance Bass presented “the unstoppable Taylor Swift” with the Best Pop award, as she gushed “you’re pop personified”.

Bass also gave Swift multiple colourful beaded friendship bracelets, in keeping with a popular tradition among her fans.

“I’m not doing well pivoting from this to this [from being an NSYNC fan to accepting an award],” she said. “Like, I had your dolls!”

“Are you guys gonna do something? I need to know what it is!” she pressed them for more details, following their surprise reunion.

If Swift and NSYNC expressed mutual admiration for each other, a Selena Gomez moment went viral for different reasons as the “Single Soon” singer appeared to scrunch her nose when Chris Brown’s name was read out among the Best R&B nominees.

The singer was nominated for his feature on Chlöe’s “How Does It Feel”, but lost to SZA’s “Shirt”.

In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna, who was dating him at the time. Since then, multiple other women have accused Brown of sexual assault; the singer has denied these accusations.

As the curtain comes down on this year’s ceremony, you can find a full list of VMA winners here.

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