In a night full of surprises, Taylor Swift shocked the audience within minutes of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards Sunday, crashing Nicki Minaj‘s opening number — and putting an end to recent rumors of the ladies’ feud, which was prompted by a Twitter exchange between the two musicians.
Swift sang “Bad Blood” with Minaj, who performed a medley of her hits, including “The Night Is Still Young.” Decked out in red sequins, Minaj danced up a storm, but this time, she avoided a wardrobe malfunction like last year’s “Anaconda” VMA faux pas.
However, Minaj did win best hip hop video for her “Anaconda” video. When she accepted, she praised girl power, but not without making a dig at host Miley Cyrus (“you b—h,” she yelled), bringing up a recent interview in which Cyrus appeared to diss the rap diva.
Cyrus — who flashed her breasts during the final moments of the show — reminded the crowd that the VMAs have not had a host for the past two years, “a tradition they’ll probably return to immediately after tonight’s show,” she quipped, alluding to her 2013 headline-making performance with Robin Thicke, which set off twerk-o-mania. In the first act of the show, the “Wrecking Ball” singer, decked out in eccentrically bright-colored costumes, dropped a few F-bombs and jumped into the audience to take an Ellen DeGeneres-type Oscars selfie.
The first award of the night, presented by VMA queen Britney Spears, went to Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk,” though the prizes were hardly the most interesting part of the awards show.
The Weeknd pumped up the crowd, taking the pyrotechnic stage with his hit “I Can’t Feel My Face,” which prompted a gold-sequined Swift to stand up and dance in the audience, as she’s known to do at award shows. The “1989” songstress was in good company with her #SquadGoals crew, including models Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss and singer Selena Gomez, who all appeared in her “Bad Blood” music video. The video took away two awards during the night, including video of the year. Swift also won two moon men for “Blank Space.”
Justin Bieber caused an uproar of cheering, returning to the MTV event, performing for the first time in five years. The international phenomenon debuted his new hit “What Do You Mean,” which dropped just on Friday, to thousands of screaming fans inside Downtown LA’s Microsoft Theater, who got even louder when Bieber was catapulted up in the air over the crowd.
“I was going to keep my jacket on, but now that I know Justin Bieber can fly,” Cyrus teased, stripping off her sparkly fur coat to nothing but a skimpy metallic leotard, as she introduced the next presenters — “Empire’s” Jussie Smollett and Serayah, who took a more meaningful turn, mentioning recent headlines, including the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage and #blacklivesmatter, in order to segue to the award for video with a social message, which went to Big Sean.
Other performers of the night included Demi Lovato with her summer smash “Cool For the Summer,” Pharrell, Tori Kelly, A$AP Rocky with Twenty One Pilots and Cyrus who closed the show, accompanied by a slew of drag queens. In typical Cyrus fashion, she also dropped the biggest surprise of the night — announcing that she dropped a new album, now available online for free.
Kanye West received the highest honor of the night, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, which was presented by none other than Swift, whom he infamously interrupted during her acceptance speech at the VMAs six years ago.
“Since then we’ve had a lot of time to talk about a lot of things,” Swift said. “Something that you may not know is that Kanye’s album ‘College Dropout’ is the first album my brother and I bought on iTunes when I was 12 years old.”
She continued, “Kanye defines what it is to be a creative force in music, fashion and life, so to all the other winners tonight, I’m really happy for you, but I’m gonna let you finish,” she joked, throwing it back to West’s now-famous line when he grabbed Swift’s mic.
“First of all, thank you, Taylor, for being so gracious,” Kanye said. “I often think back to the first day I met you also… If I had a daughter at that time, would I have grabbed that mic from someone else?” he pondered, giving a shout-out to his daughter North West with wife Kim Kardashian West, who sat in the audience. During West’s lengthy speech, he touched on his past behavior, but did not apologize, explaining that he may continue to act erratically because, at the end of the day, he’s standing up for artists.
The rapper wrapped up his monologue joking — we think? — “I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
After West’s show-stopping speech, Cyrus came back to center stage. “Woah, now we all know what happens to Kanye West when he smokes weed,” she said.
And of course, the VMAs couldn’t close without a mention of presidential hopefuls Donald Trump.
“Trump, you had my vote,” Cyrus announced. “But now, Kanye West for president!”