Taylor Swift last attended the MTV Video Music Awards in person in 2019, when she kicked off the night with her debut performances of “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover” from the first album she ever owned, Lover. And although she has not been to the Video Music Awards in person since, the show has continued to show her support. For instance, Taylor, 32, won the award for Best Direction in 2020, making her the first solo female artist to do so in the show’s 38-year history. The music video that helped Taylor achieve the honor was the video for “The Man” — a pointed song that slams sexism in the industry — which served as Taylor’s directorial debut.
The 2022 Video Music Awards are just days away, and Taylor is nominated in five categories, all for her the short film that she created for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)”, which stars Stranger Things‘ Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brien. If she wins all five nominations, Taylor will have won a total of 16 awards. So, what are her 11 VMA wins thus far? Read on to find out.
Best Video by a Female Artist – “You Belong With Me” (2009)
The 2009 Video Music Awards started off like a true fairytale for Taylor. She arrived on the red carpet in a whimsical horse-drawn carriage and looked like a modern-day princess in a sexy, but sweet one-sleeved gown embellished with silver sequins. However, Taylor’s first Moon Person trophy is memorable for a heartbreaking reason, unfortunately. Taylor, who was 19 at the time, beat out Beyonce for Best Video by a Female Artist with “You Belong With Me”, and as pop culture enthusiasts remember, that was the night Kanye West decided to get up on stage and tell the world Beyonce, rather than Taylor, deserved the award.
Taylor was just sentences into her acceptance speech when Kanye rudely interrupted her. “Thank you so much! I always dreamed about what it would be like to maybe win one of these someday, but I never thought it actually would have happened,” she began, per Vox. “I sing country music. So thank you so much for giving me the chance to win a VMA Award!” Then, Kanye, who had been drinking all night, climbed up on stage and stole the mic. “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” he stated.
Taylor was clearly confused, and according to Billboard, both Beyonce and Taylor were both crying backstage because they were so upset. “Her mom and she were crying, and I profusely apologized and I said, ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t know. I know you have to perform in the next act and let me think about a way we can make it right for you. We’re dealing with him now and I’m so sorry it ruined your moment,’” Van Toffler, the former president of Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group, recalled in a 2019 interview. “I didn’t anticipate I’d have a crying artist and mom to deal with — literally right before she has to go out on Sixth Avenue and stand on a car and sing her song.”
That’s right; Taylor was slated to perform the song, which consisted of a pre-recorded portion during which she sang in the New York City subway, and a second part that was taped live and had her singing on top of a taxi on 6th Avenue. Taylor was able to pull herself together and give an energetic performance, but that infamous night marked just the beginning of the drama she would run into with the Yeezy designer.
Best Video by a Female Artist – “I Knew You Were Trouble” (2013)
Taylor walked away with another Best Video by a Female Artist award in 2013 for her 2012 hit “I Knew You Were Trouble,” off her original Red album. Per usual, she thanked her fans for helping her achieve her dreams, but not per usual, she shouted out the man who inspired the song. “I want to thank the fans because I tweeted about this a lot. I really, really wanted this, and thank you so much for doing this for me,” she began, per CMT. “I feel really lucky because I have both the video director Anthony Mandler and my co-star, Reeve Carney, here tonight, and I’m so happy that they are here.” She concluded, “I also want to thank the person who inspired this song — who knows exactly who he is — because now I’ve got one of these.” The sass!
Video of the Year – “Bad Blood” (2015)
Taylor won the top prize of the night with “Bad Blood”, the video for which she notoriously invited some of her besties at the time, such as Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, and Martha Hunt, to be part of. She started off her acceptance speech by shouting out Kendrick Lamar, who is featured on the track but could not be there in person to accept the award. “I wanna thanks Kendrick Lamar. I wish he was here, but he’s off on tour in Europe being amazing,” she began, per MTV.
She then expressed her gratitude to her fans. “The fact that you would vote and give us this bonding experience that we will have forever, thank you from the bottom of my heart. There’s been a lot of discussion about this video and what it means, but I’m just happy that in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers,” she smiled.
Best Female Video – “Blank Space” (2015)
Taylor’s competition for Best Female Video included Beyonce (“7/11”), Ellie Goulding (“Love Me Like You Do”), Nicki Minaj (“Anaconda”), and Sia (“Elastic Heart”). When she took the stage for her win, she once again thanked her dedicated fans. Perhaps, the sweetest moment was when she let the video’s director, Joseph Kahn, say a few words. “It’s a jaded world, but it’s hard to believe there’s someone as nice, as awesome as you, that’s as beautiful and as talented all in the same combination,” he sweetly said to the Pennsylvania native, per Bustle. “It’s unreal. You inspire us.”
Best Collaboration – “Bad Blood” (2015)
It’s no surprise “Bad Blood” won this trophy, considering the song is a collaboration between two artists, and the music video is a collaboration between Taylor and over 15 of her closest friends. The video certainly got plenty of recognition at the awards show!
Best Pop Video – “Blank Space” (2015)
Taylor impressively walked away with four awards after the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. She even won Best Pop Video for “Blank Space” before the show even started! Speaking of the start of the show, she squashed any Nicki Minaj drama rumors after she joined her to kick off the show with a combined performance of “The Night Is Still Young” and “Bad Blood”. Way to go, Tay!
Best Collaboration – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” (2017)
Taylor and Zayn Malik collaborated on the song “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”, which was featured on the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. In a since-deleted behind-the-scenes clip about making the video, Taylor gushed about working with her pal (and father of Gigi Hadid’s baby). “I’ve known Zayn for a really long time. I think his voice is one of those that is really rare, and I think he’s really special and wonderful and it’s really, really amazing to get to work together,” she stated, per Elle. “It’s amazing when you get to work with people who you hang out with because the question of ‘Will we get along?’ is already answered. You’re like ‘Yeah, we’ll get along insane, we hang out, like, it’s fine.’ And he’s also incredibly talented. And I feel really lucky to get to do this song that I’m really proud of with him… It’s been amazing.”
Video for Good – “You Need to Calm Down” (2019)
“You Need to Calm Down” became an LGBTQ+ anthem when it was released in 2019, as it directly called out anti-gay haters and advocated for GLAAD, an organization that fights for LGBTQ+ acceptance. With lyrics like, “shade never made anybody less gay” and “Why are you mad? /When you could be GLAAD?”, Taylor did not come to play. Furthermore, the video featured many celebrities that identify as queer, including cast members from Queer Eye and RuPaul’s Drag Race, plus, Adam Rippon, Billy Porter, Ellen DeGeneres, and Todrick Hall.
Video of the Year – “You Need to Calm Down” (2019)
“You Need to Calm Down” also won the coveted Video of the Year award at the 2019 Video Music Awards, and Taylor made sure to support her LGBTQ+ friends and fans by calling out the White House, which was led by Donald Trump at the time, to create a more accepting environment. “In this video, several points were made. You voting for this video means that you want a world where we’re all treated equally under the law, regardless of who we love, regardless of how we identify,” Taylor eloquently noted in her acceptance speech before making a more pointed political remark.
As fans know, the video ended with a call to action and encouraged viewers to sign her Change.org petition which called for senators to support the Equality Act. Taylor continued on by addressing the petition’s popularity, “It now has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” she noted. She then tapped on an imaginary watch on her wrist, showing that time is ticking for the government to acknowledge it.
“My cast live their lives so authentically,” the Grammy Award winner added. “Thank you for being the example you are. I love you so much. Thank you, MTV for lifting up this point and this video.”
Video of the Year – “ME!” (2019)
Taylor picked up a third trophy at the 2019 awards show for “ME!”, which featured Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco. Similarly to when she worked with Zayn Malik, Taylor had nothing but praises to sing about collaborating with Brendon. “I had to step up the whole video; I have to step up every time I’m around him, he is just the best performer, and he is so much energy,” she gushed to Kent Andrew “Smallzy” Small on Nova’s Smallzy’s Surgery, per Daily Mail.
Best Direction – “The Man” (2020)
As noted above, Taylor made history when she nabbed the trophy for Best Direction with 2020’s “The Man” music video. Upon accepting it virtually, she reminded her collaborators and her fans how thankful she is for the opportunities she has. “I’m so grateful for this,” she said, per Just Jared. “I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to the team who believed in me as a first-time director and who made this video with me.”
Addressing her fans, she added, “You are the only reason why the industry cares about anything that I do. And everything that you guys have done with Folklore this summer, I’m just so blown away and taken aback by your generosity to me.”