Remember When: Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

Taylor Swift is the biggest name in music. Not only is she selling out every stadium in the Western world, but she is setting trends left and right, including re-recording her older albums so as to own her masters.

Videos by American Songwriter

But there was a time when Swift wasn’t the biggest name in music. That time was when rapper and producer Kanye West was likely the biggest name in music. Now times have changed.

[RELATED: Taylor Swift Pokes Fun at Kanye West’s VMA Interruption at Eras Tour Show]

The two—Swift and West—are forever linked thanks to West’s outburst at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. It’s a moment music fans remember today. But for those who need a memory jog, let’s dive in below.

September 13, 2009

That was the date. September 13. The location? Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was there that West and Swift shared a moment that will forever link their careers. At the time, Swift’s name had just been called. And she was accepting the Moon Man award for Best Female Video. The win was over several worthy pop stars, including Beyoncé. (Others nominated included Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Pink.)

But it was West, ever-outspoken (and only increasingly so over the years until recently when his words cost him billions of dollars) who stopped the show. In a move not unlike Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards, though there was no physical violence between West and Swift, West came from the audience to interrupt the broadcast.

West, of course, wanted his friend Beyoncé to win the award for Best Female Video for her outstanding work on the video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” But when she didn’t West took it upon himself to protest.

The Award Announcement

When her name was announced, Swift looked visibly shocked, mouthing, “Wow!” Indeed, it was something of an upset, given the popularity of Queen B’s video. Nevertheless, to stop the show is a whole other story.

Swift takes the stage, holds her trophy for the video for her song, “You Belong with Me,” and begins her acceptance speech, saying “Thank you so much!” And added that she never thought she’d win an award, especially for singing country music, which was her genre at the time.

That’s when West comes onstage and says, “I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. “Oh, Kanye,” Queen B seemed to mouth, in shock. Then West handed back the microphone to Swift, who was unsure what to do next. Who could blame her? She was just embarrassed in front of millions of people.

The clip of the moment is as awkward now as it was then. See it below.

The Aftermath

Later during the same show, when Beyoncé received the award for Video of the Year, she invited Swift back onstage to conclude her acceptance speech. In that moment, Beyoncé remembered getting her first award with Destiny’s Child at just 17. Fans can see that clip with both women below.

The 2023 Eras Tour

More recently, Swift, amidst her billion-dollar Eras Tour, poked fun at West, who hasn’t been seen in the public eye as of late, saying all of the cheering on tour is welcome. Via a fan-shot video, fans can see Swift tell the rowdy audience, “It’s the best way to be interrupted, by the way, people chanting your name.”

Swift was attempting to kick off her acoustic portion of the night, but the crowd’s screams were making it nearly impossible. “It’s really the only way to be interrupted—and I would know,” she added.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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