Taylor Swift was among the big winners at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards – Copyright AFP ANGELA WEISS
Taylor Swift cleaned up at Tuesday’s MTV Video Music Awards, as Shakira accepted the night’s prestigious Video Vanguard prize with a hip-shaking, career-spanning performance.
Swift continued her global reign by scooping awards including Best Song and Best Pop, as several of the night’s top trophies still needed handing out.
Turn-of-the-millennium teen heartthrobs NSYNC reunited onstage for the first time in a decade to grant her the latter award, leaving Swift, who is poised to post the first billion-dollar tour, fanning her cheeks.
“I’m not doing well pivoting” from fan to winner, Swift said.
“Like, I had your dolls!” she said to the “Bye Bye Bye” singers.
But she didn’t perform on the night known far more for its spectacle than its awards, instead sipping her drink as artists including Olivia Rodrigo, Anitta and Doja Cat took to the stage.
The made-for-broadcast show, held this year in Newark’s Prudential Center, frequently panned to Swift who was seated near the main stage next to Ice Spice, the viral Bronx rapper who has collaborated with the pop phenom.
A camera operator was even reportedly tasked with filming Swift for the show’s entire duration.
Speaking onstage, she told fans that when writing she often feels she has “a very specific type of insecurity or self-loathing,” but when she hears them screaming the lyrics “it brings me to this very relaxing feeling of, maybe we all have the same issues.”
Lil Wayne opened the show in a nod to this year’s 50th anniversary of hip hop, and Sean Combs — known by his stage names Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy and Diddy — delivered a career-spanning performance as he accepted the night’s Global Icon lifetime achievement award.
“This is so surreal,” said the 53-year-old from Harlem. “I started out as a paper boy.”
And it was Shakira who scored the night’s most prestigious award for lifetime achievement, the Video Vanguard award that celebrates music video innovations.
The Colombian performer, 46, stole the show as she performed her signature hip pops and sang a bilingual medley including “She Wolf,” “Te Felicito,” “Objection (Tango),” “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Wearing a glittering, nude ensemble, the artist finished her set by crowd-surfing to a platform that then elevated her high above a screaming crowd of fans and peers.
“Thank you MTV. Thank you for being such a big part of my career since I was only 18 years old,” she said.
– Afrobeats and Bongos –
Rapper Nicki Minaj hosted the event for the second consecutive year, also debuting live her newest single, “Last Time I Saw You,” which is slated for release on her album “Pink Friday 2” in November.
She also won the night’s award for Best Hip Hop.
And Doja Cat ignited the crowd as she performed a medley of “Attention,” “Paint The Town Red” and “Demons,” donning a sexy skirtsuit situation she slowly loosened as she danced, meanwhile unfurling a long blonde mane.
Best R&B went to SZA, who did not attend, while South Korea’s Stray Kids won the award for Best K-pop and later performed.
Nigeria’s Rema won the prize for Best Afrobeats, a new category, for his remixed single “Calm Down” featuring Selena Gomez.
The song surpassed a billion streams on Spotify over the weekend.
“This means so much seeing Afrobeats grow this big,” Rema said while accepting the trophy.
Anitta dropped a booty-shaking dance party of a show with hits including “Funk Rave,” which earned the evening’s prize for Best Latin.
Colombian Karol G was also among the evening’s top performers, and she scored a prize with Shakira for Best Collaboration.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion debuted their live performance of “Bongos,” their latest collaboration that follows the resounding success of “WAP.”
Cardi entered the stage from the ceiling on a disco ball, her hair in loose waves a la Donna Summer. Megan joined her from another stage, and after their respective verses the pair led the audience through a high-energy, twerkified dance breakdown.
Pop-punk band Fallout Boy rounded out the millennial nostalgia tour that began the night with NSYNC.
The emo rockers performed their updated version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” hitting major moments of the past three decades in a revamp that includes the line: “YouTube killed MTV.”