Kanye West apologised for yet another outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards, this time directed at country-pop sweetheart Taylor Swift. The disruption upstaged not just Swift’s awards speech, but the entire evening, including an emotional tribute to Michael Jackson.
In a rare conciliatory moment, West took to his blog to apologise. In a standard all--capital letters message, West said: “I’M SOOOOO SORRY TO TAYLOR SWIFT AND HER FANS AND HER MOM. I SPOKE TO HER MOTHER RIGHT AFTER AND SHE SAID THE SAME THING MY MOTHER WOULD’VE SAID. SHE IS VERY TALENTED!”
West -- who has flipped out after losing at the VMAs, the Grammys, the American Music Awards and more -- once again took umbrage when the awards process didn’t go the way he wanted it to -- but this time, it was on behalf of Beyonce.
Beyonce, nominated for best female video for “Single Ladies,” was bested by Swift, the best—selling artist of the year outside of Jackson. The 19-year-old was giddy when she won for her clip “You Belong With Me,” the first award given out on Sunday, and said: “I always wondered what it would be like to maybe win one of these someday, but never actually thought it would happen.”
But West ruined her moment when he jumped on stage at Radio City Music Hall.
“Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time,” said West, as a shocked Beyonce looked on and the crowd began to boo.
A crestfallen Swift didn’t finish her speech, but the crowd applauded her anyway. She later performed “You Belong With Me” in a subway station for the broadcast.
Swift later got a speech do-over, courtesy of Beyonce, who won video of the year for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Beyonce recalled that she won her first VMA at age 17, as a member of Destiny’s Child.
“I remember how excited I was,” she said. “I’d like Taylor to come out and have her moment.”
A smiling but nervous Swift then said, “Can we try this again?” before going on to thank everyone she would have thanked had West not interrupted her.
Later, backstage, Swift said she had never met West and had been a fan. She declined to get into a verbal tussle with West: “I don’t know him and I don’t want to start anything.”
Instead, she praised Beyonce for giving her the stage: “I thought that I couldn’t love Beyonce more and then tonight happened and it was just wonderful.”
The celebrity crowd was unforgiving of West. When Diddy read his name later in the show while introducing the nominees for best male video, the crowd booed, and Diddy said in mock surprise, “What happened?” The crowd responded by chanting Swift’s name (T.I. ended up winning the award). They also booed his name later.
West also addressed that, too, on his blog: “BEYONCE’S VIDEO WAS THE BEST OF THIS DECADE!!!! ... EVERYBODY WANNA BOOOOO ME BUT I’M A FAN OF REAL POP CULTURE!!! NO DISRESPECT BUT WE WATCHIN’ THE SHOW AT THE CRIB RIGHT NOW CAUSE ... WELL YOU KNOW!!!! I’M STILL HAPPY FOR TAYLOR!!!! ”
The incident provided the VMAs with its traditional moment that will be talked about, but also completely overshadowed what had been expected to be the show’s main attraction -- a poignant, tender tribute to Michael Jackson by Madonna and sister Janet.
Madonna gave a moving speech about her relationship with Jackson, which began when she was a youngster idolizing the then—child star, then morphed into a friendship when both were at the apex of their careers and later, grew distant. Madonna lamented the negative publicity that dogged him in his later years.
“Sometimes, we have to lose things before we can truly appreciate them,” said Madonna, dressed in black.
“Yes, Michael Jackson was a human being, but yes, he was a king,” she told the celebrity-studded crowd, which included Michael’s brother Jermaine and father Joe Jackson. “Long live the king.”
The musical tribute began afterward, as Jackson clones dressed in some of his signature outfits recreated his famous dance moves from his videos. Then, as “Scream,” his duet with Janet, appeared on a large screen, his sister came out to recreate the moves from their only video together as the crowd, including Beyonce, cheered her on. Afterward, she looked heavenward, and bowed.
Jackson died June 25 at age 50. Jackson was not only an integral part of MTV’s history, he also provided the VMAs with some of its most memorable moments, including his infamous smooch with then—wife Lisa Marie Presley, in 1994.
Host Russell Brand also paid tribute to Jackson:
“Tonight is dedicated to the great Michael Jackson,” Brand, in a top hat, told the audience. “Let’s honor Michael tonight by loving one another in his memory.”