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A Lot Of Major Moments In Taylor Swift's Career Happened At The VMAs, So Here Are 15 Of The Biggest

Ahead of the 2015 VMAs, Taylor got into a Twitter feud with Nicki Minaj, whom she thought was shading her. However, they managed to work things out, then Nicki surprised everyone by bringing Taylor onstage to perform with her.

Taylor Swift has been in the music industry for almost 20 years at this point, and along the way, she's rarely missed the annual MTV VMA Awards. In fact, a lot of her most memorable career moments — both the good and the bad — have taken place at the ceremony.

taylor accepting an award

Here are 15 of Taylor Swift's biggest career moments that happened at the VMAs:

1. When Taylor made her VMA debut in 2008, she also made her first public appearance with her then-boyfriend Joe Jonas. It was her first high-profile Hollywood romance.

the two sitting in the audience

Two months later, she released the song "Forever and Always," which was inspired by their infamous breakup over the phone.

2. She interviewed other celebs on the red carpet the year prior, but at the 2009 VMAs, Taylor arrived in a horse-drawn carriage.

the carriage on the street

She told MTV, "I have a castle complex. I really like fairy tales."

3. Of course, 2009 was also the year of Taylor's most memorable VMAs moment — when she won Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me," and Kanye West stormed the stage, took the mic, and declared that Beyoncé should've won for "Single Ladies" instead.

kanye on stage taking the mic from taylor

Here's the full clip:

View this video on YouTube

MTV / Via

Former MTV Chief Van Toffler told the Hollywood Reporter that Taylor, her mom, and Beyoncé were all crying backstage after the incident.

Taylor told Rolling Stone, "I was really excited, because I had just won the award. And then I was really excited because Kanye West was onstage. And then I wasn’t so excited anymore after that."

This was, of course, the incident that launched a years-long and ongoing feud between the two.

4. Then, when Beyoncé won Video of the Year later in the night, she invited Taylor onstage to finish her acceptance speech.

beyonce saying she'd like taylor to have her moment on stage

Here's the full clip:

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MTV / Via

Taylor told Rolling Stone, "They told me to stand by the side of the stage, and I didn't really know what was going to go down, but I thought it was so wonderful and gracious of her to do what she's always done."

beyonce and. taylor hugging on stage

She continued, "She's always been a great person before anything else. Before the talented artist, the superstar, she's always been a great person and I just, I thought I couldn't love Beyoncé more tonight, then tonight happened, and it was just wonderful."

5. At the 2010 VMAs a year later, Taylor debuted her song "Innocent" — which she wrote about Kanye — and opened the performance with grainy footage of the previous incident playing on an old TV.

taylor singing in the music video

Here's a video of the full performance:

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MTV / Via

6. While One Direction was presenting an award at the 2013 VMAs, Taylor — who'd broken up with Harry Styles several months earlier — appeared to say, "Shut the fuck up."

one direction on stage and taylor sitting with selena gomez mouthing something

However, some fans argued that she was simply telling Selena Gomez, "Sorry for my arm."

Here's the full clip:

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MTV / Via

Then, Ed Sheeran — who's famously friends with both Taylor and Harry — reportedly cleared up the confusion at a Q&A, telling fans, "Selena said to her, she said, 'I think Miley's going to win the award over me' and then Taylor said, 'Oh, shut the fuck up.' And that's what that was!"

He also said, "She rung me straight afterward, and she was like, 'I think I've messed up.'"

7. However, when she won Best Female Video for "I Knew You Were Trouble" that year, she seemingly shaded Harry in her acceptance speech.

i wanna thank the person who inspired this song who knows exactly who he is because now i got one of these

Watch her full speech below:

View this video on YouTube

MTV / Via

8. And then, later that night, the former couple were pictured together at an after-party alongside their mutual friend Ed Sheeran. The picture that the party's host shared went viral.

The very next day, at the New York premiere of One Direction: This Is Us, Harry responded to her speech.

harry saying that taylor like a joke and he likes a joke as much as the next guy so it's all good

9. Expressing her disappointment that "Anaconda" wasn't nominated for Best Choreography or Video of the Year ahead of the 2015 VMAs, Nicki Minaj tweeted, "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year." Taylor took it as a slight against her "Bad Blood" video, which was nominated, and started an online argument with the rapper.

In a since-deleted tweet, Taylor said, "I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot."

Nicki replied, "Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn't say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this." She also clarified that she wasn't talking about Taylor.

Attempting to smooth things over, Taylor posted, "@NICKIMINAJ If I win, please come up with me!! You're invited to any stage I'm ever on."

Then, however, Nicki retweeted a fan who wrote, "@taylorswift13 stop using 'support all girls' as an excuse to not be critical of racist media that benefits and glorifies you."

Finally, Taylor tweeted, "I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I'm sorry, Nicki."

Nicki said, "That means so much Taylor, thank you."

10. After resolving their feud, Nicki surprised the audience by bringing Taylor onstage to perform a mashup of "The Night Is Still Young" and "Bad Blood" with her.

nicki and taylor on stage together

Watch their full performance below:

View this video on YouTube

MTV / Via

The situation taught Taylor to handle disagreements with other artists privately. 

She told NME, "I don't want to talk about it. But I send text messages now. If there seems to be some kind of misunderstanding, I go to someone's management, I get their number, and I text them. It's an important lesson for anyone to learn in 2015."

11. Speaking of "Bad Blood," Taylor brought her iconic squad of friends as her dates to celebrate the music video's nomination.

taylor and her group of friends

From left to right, it's Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, Hailee Steinfeld, Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Serayah, Mariska Hargitay, Lily Aldridge, and Karlie Kloss.

Here they are sitting in the audience.

Here they are helping Taylor accept the award their music video won.

And here they are at Republic Records' after party.

12. The same night, she also seemed to end her feud with Kanye West by presenting him with the night's highest honor — the Video Vanguard Award. She even joked, "Imma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time."

kanye and taylor on stage

Onstage, she also referred to him as her "friend."

13. The following year, Taylor famously skipped the VMAs. She wasn't nominated for any awards, but Kanye was nominated for "Famous" — the song that reignited their feud — leading to a lot of speculation about why she chose not to attend.

taylor singing on stage

An anonymous insider told People, "Taylor was never scheduled to attend the VMAs."

However, it seemed that her true reason for skipping the event was far less complicated. The following morning, she reported for jury duty in Nashville.

taylor sitting on a bench on stage

14. At the 2019 VMAs, Taylor won Video of the Year for "You Need To Calm Down," and she brought all the drag queens who costarred in the music video onstage to accept the award with her. She also brought along fellow costars Hannah Hart and Todrick Hall, and she ensured all of them got a trophy of their own to take home.

taylor on stage with everyone

In an Instagram story video taken backstage, Trinity K Bonet said, "I just want y'all to know that Taylor Swift made sure that each and every one of us gets two Moonmen for the awards she won tonight. [Taylor said] that she would not perform unless we got awards too. So I'm going to have two Moonmen in my house with my name on it for Video of the Year at the fucking VMAs!"

15. And finally, at the 2022 VMAs, Taylor announced that — in the midst of re-recording her past albums and planning The Eras Tour — she was dropping her tenth album, Midnights.

taylor accepting an award on stage

In retrospect, some fans speculated that the very sparkly dress she'd worn to the event was an Easter egg for the fan-favorite track "Bejeweled."

Be sure to tune in to the 2023 VMAs, airing live from New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Tuesday, Sept. 12th at 8 PM ET/PT on MTV. You can catch all of our coverage of the show here.

A live hosted simulcast will air on UniMás at 8 PM ET/PT with an encore to follow on Univision at 11:30 PM ET/PT, making it available to the most global audience in VMA history. Univision’s Alejandra Espinoza will host exclusive live in-show segments throughout the broadcast. 

The VMAs will also be simulcast across MTV sister networks BET, BET Her, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop, TVLand & VH1. The 2023 VMAs pre-show will air at 6:30-8:00 PM ET/PT. NLE Choppa and Sabrina Carpenter are set to perform during the 90-minute event, hosted by award-winning rap star Saweetie with Nessa, Dometi Pongo, and Kevan Kenney.