With one swift swipe of the mic, Kanye West went from just another tipsy rapper at an awards show to a pop-culture pariah at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Jaws dropped and boos were lobbed when Kanye infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video, leaving behind a shell-shocked teen country starlet.
Swift composed herself and gracefully left the stage but the experience was apparently as hard for the Grammy-winner to take as it was for viewers to watch. And to pile on the pressure, Swift was set to pull off a complex performance of “You Belong With Me” involving scores of extras raging through a New York City subway station just minutes after the onstage debacle. In addition to her preternatural professionalism, Swift had a secret weapon to help her through the set: her fans.
“The fans behind her were going crazy,” choreographer Danielle Flora recalls in the special “The VMAs: Revealed – Presented by New 5 React Gum,” which premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. Dancer Keltie Colleen agreed: “It was like they were her army.”
Eventually, it all worked out. Beyoncé, who appeared almost as uncomfortable as Swift when ’Ye insisted the ’Single Ladies’ singer deserved the Best Female Video Moonman, asked the country star to finish her acceptance speech when she later won for Video of the Year . Swift went on to lampoon the drama on “Saturday Night Live” and West has used the incident as material for some of his latest work.
To learn exactly how Swift pulled off one of the craziest performances in VMA history, tune in to “The VMAs: Revealed – Presented by New 5 React Gum.”
The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on September 12. The party starts with MTV News’ VMA Pre-Show at 8 p.m., followed by the main event at 9 p.m. ET.