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2009 MTV Video Music Awards

2009 MTV Video Music Awards
Date Sunday, September 13, 2009
Location Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York
Host Russell Brand
Official website
Television/Radio coverage
Network MTV and VH1
2008 MTV Video Music Awards 2010 >

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards took place on September 13, 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, honoring the best music videos from June 19, 2008, to June 29, 2009. Comedian Russell Brand hosted the event for the second time in a row. The awards were held a few months after Michael Jackson died. The VMAs dedicated the night to Jackson with a opening performance featuring a music video montage medley with dancers performing Jackson's choreography and concluding with a special appearance by Janet Jackson performing her duet Scream alongside footage of Jackson. Madonna opened the show with a speech about Jackson. For the finale of the show, they showed the trailer of Michael Jackson's This Is It.[1]

On August 4, the nominees were announced. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga led the pack with 9 nominations each, closely followed by Britney Spears with 7.[2] Beyoncé, Green Day and Lady Gaga got 3 awards each, the most of the VMAs.

The show was watched by a total of 9 million people, a 17% increase over 2008's show and the biggest ratings since the 2004 award show. This year was also the first year since 2006 to return to the Radio City Music Hall for the awards and unlike in 2008, where the show was held in a warehouse, this show was at a real venue with a live audience.[3][4]

The show is infamous for an incident involving Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's speech for winning the award for Best Female Video ("You Belong With Me"), which spawned the "I'mma let you finish" internet meme.[5]


  • Awards 1
    • Video of the Year 1.1
    • Best Male Video 1.2
    • Best Female Video 1.3
    • Best New Artist 1.4
    • Best Pop Video 1.5
    • Best Rock Video 1.6
    • Best Hip-Hop Video 1.7
    • Breakthrough Video 1.8
    • Best Direction 1.9
    • Best Choreography 1.10
    • Best Special Effects 1.11
    • Best Art Direction 1.12
    • Best Editing 1.13
    • Best Cinematography 1.14
    • Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman) 1.15
    • Best Performance in a Pepsi Rock Band Video 1.16
    • Best Breakout Artist Awards 1.17
  • Performances 2
    • Main show 2.1
    • House band performances 2.2
  • Appearances 3
    • Pre-show 3.1
    • Main show 3.2
  • Kanye West controversy and debated incidents 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Winners are in bold text.[6]

Video of the Year

Beyoncé – "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"

Best Male Video

T.I. (featuring Rihanna) – "Live Your Life"

Best Female Video

Taylor Swift – "You Belong with Me"

Best New Artist

Lady Gaga – "Poker Face"

Best Pop Video

Britney Spears – "Womanizer"

Best Rock Video

Green Day – "21 Guns"

Best Hip-Hop Video

Eminem – "We Made You"

Breakthrough Video

Matt & Kim – "Lessons Learned"

Best Direction

Green Day – "21 Guns" (Director: Marc Webb)

Best Choreography

Beyoncé – "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (Choreographers: Frank Gatson and JaQuel Knight)

Best Special Effects

Lady Gaga – "Paparazzi" (Special Effects: Chimney Pot)

Best Art Direction

Lady Gaga – "Paparazzi" (Art Director: Jason Hamilton)

Best Editing

Beyoncé – "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (Editor: Jarrett Fijal)

Best Cinematography

Green Day – "21 Guns" (Director of Photography: Jonathan Sela)

Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)

Beastie Boys – "Sabotage"

Best Performance in a Pepsi Rock Band Video

Nerds in Disguise – "My Own Worst Enemy"

Best Breakout Artist Awards

Eight local MTV VMA Best Breakout Artist Awards were awarded. The table below lists the number of bands considered in each city, the three finalist nominees selected by MTV for each VMA, and the winner in bold.[7][8] The winners were featured on MTV on local cable during the live VMAs and received featured coverage on MTV and MTV2 (or MTV Tr3́s in the case of the LA contest).[7]
New York City Bay Area Atlanta Chicago Boston Philadelphia Washington, DC Los Angeles

of over 190 entries
Presented by

Time Warner Cable and MTV2[7]

of 129 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[9]
  • Holla Front
  • Rantings of Eva
  • Tone G

of over 150 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[10]

of over 150 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[11]

of over 150 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[12]
  • Atlantic Avenue
  • DaCav5
  • Rushmore

of over 150 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[13]

of over 170 entries
Presented by

Comcast and MTV2[14]
  • La Banda Skalavera
  • No Way Jose
  • South Central Skankers

of 116 entries
Presented by

Time Warner Cable and MTV Tr3́s[15]


Main show

House band performances

Rapper Wale and go-go band UCB served as the house band for the show, performing right before, during, and right after commercial breaks. Throughout the show they also had various special guests and performed the following songs:



Main show

Kanye West controversy and debated incidents

West taking the microphone from Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

While Taylor Swift was making her acceptance speech for winning Best Female Video for "You Belong with Me", Kanye West got onto the stage and interrupted her; he took her microphone, saying: "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!", referring to the music video of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". The cameras panned to Beyoncé, who looked shocked, and West was then booed by the audience.[18] Angered, he flipped off the crowd.[19][20] He then handed the microphone back to Swift.[21] Backstage, Swift was seen "hysterically crying".[21] According to Rolling Stone, when Swift's mother confronted West, he gave "a half-hearted apology in which he added he still thought Beyoncé's video was superior".[22] After Beyoncé won Video of the Year for "Single Ladies", she acknowledged her experience winning her first VMA at the age of 17, and called Swift back to the stage, hugged her and let her finish her speech. During the commercial break, singer Pink walked by West and reportedly shook her head in disgust.[23] West was later removed from the remainder of the show.[19][20] Later, he wrote an apology on his blog (which he later removed).[24]

Various celebrities and industry figures, including Pink, Janet Jackson, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Joel Madden, Adam Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Ryan Seacrest, Chris Jericho, Jeremy Fall, and Dane Cook, spoke out about the incident through Twitter and other outlets, condemning West for the verbal outburst.[19][25][26][27] Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton said, "Taylor Swift deserved that award, damnit [sic]. It is what THE PEOPLE voted! My heart broke for her, she looked so sad at the end of that moment."[19] Rapper 50 Cent, who has a history of feuding with West, said winning the award was Swift's special moment that night and that West took it away. "Even an apology can't replace what it feels like for the very first time receiving that award. Now in her head, My first award was Kanye West. And it's damaging," he said.[28] Donald Trump called for a boycott on West.[29] Swift commented, "Artists that I didn't even assume knew who I was [have supported me]," adding "I woke up the next day and I had flowers in my hotel room from Janet Jackson."[30]

In what was an off the record part of an interview, West's behavior even received condemnation from U.S. President Barack Obama, who had invited West to perform at the Youth Inaugural Ball in January.[31][32][33] TMZ later obtained audio of the comment.[34] "You know, it was like, she's getting an award and what are you butting in? ...The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person, she's getting her award and what's he doing up there? He's a jackass," said Obama.[32][33] The "off the air" comment forced ABC, whose news anchor Terry Moran leaked the information, to issue an apology after the Internet quickly "became abuzz over the stunning remark".[31][32][33] Additionally, West was criticized by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for the outburst.[35] The day following his outburst, West posted a second apology on his blog;[24][36] he appeared on The Jay Leno Show later that night, where he delivered another apology to Swift which was met with cheers from the crowd.[37] "Dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away, you know, from a talented artist—or from anyone—because I only wanted to help people," he said. "...My entire life, I've only wanted to do and give something that I felt was right and I immediately knew in this situation that it was wrong."[37] He became emotional, seemingly tearing up, when questioned by Leno about what his late mother would have thought of the incident.[37][38]

Emil Wilbekin, managing editor of, said West may have gone too far with his antics this time: "I think that it was not Kanye's place to speak for Beyoncé or to ruin Taylor Swift's moment...It's OK for Kanye to rattle off about himself, but I think he crossed the line when he decided to speak for other people."[19] Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times said that "from one vantage point, it was a case of chivalry gone horribly wrong" as West meant to "stand up for" Beyoncé.[39] She added that when Swift accepted Beyoncé's invitation to return to the stage, "The two women [engaged in] a quick sisterly embrace, adding another layer of meaning to an already complicated moment. Now this controversy was about women sticking up for each other, too."[39]

On September 15, 2009, two days after the outburst, Swift talked about the matter on The View. Asked what she was thinking the moment it happened, she stated:
Well, I think my overall thought process was something like, 'Wow, I can't believe I won, this is awesome, don't trip and fall, I'm gonna get to thank the fans, this is so cool. Oh, Kanye West is here. Cool haircut. What are you doing there?' And then, 'Ouch.' And then, 'I guess I'm not gonna get to thank the fans.'[40][41]
Swift described how she had to get over the shock quickly. "You know, I'm not gonna say that I wasn't rattled by it," she said. "But I had to perform live five minutes later, so I had to get myself back to the place where I could perform."[40] She said that West had not spoken to her following the incident.[41] Following Swift's appearance on The View, West contacted her to apologize personally; Swift said she accepted his apology.[41][42] The night of the awards show, Swift became the first country music artist to win an MTV Video Music Award.[42]

West's outburst resulted in an Internet meme which consisted of images of West being superimposed onto other images alongside text in the style of his VMA outburst ("X is one of the greatest Y of all time", or variants thereon, in some cases preceded by "I'm really happy for you" and/or "I'mma let you finish").[5]

The incident was parodied at the 2009 Country Music Association Awards, in which after Swift won the award for Music Video of the Year, Carrie Underwood, who was hosting the awards with Brad Paisley, told Paisley that she thought his video for "Welcome to the Future" was a great video as well. Paisley thanked her and then thanked his producers for the video, at which time singer Little Jimmy Dickens stepped on the stage and pushed Brad Paisley away from the microphone, saying, "Excuse me. Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, I'll let you finish later. Now, Brad Paisley, I know you had a nice video and all that, but Taylor Swift had the best video of all time. You go girl!" Swift laughed in her seat. Paisley then remarked, "What kind of security do we have if a 4'9" 88-year-old man gets by it?" Earlier in the awards show, Underwood and Paisley's monologue was a duet paying tribute to the song "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys", in which the first line was "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Kanye". Additionally, when Taylor Swift hosted Saturday Night Live, one part of her monologue (which was done in the form of a song ostensibly about all the things that she was not going to talk about) included Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis as security men charged with preventing Kanye West from coming on stage. She closed her monologue by saying "Kanye West is not here."[43] Additionally when Taylor Lautner, who then was rumored to be dating Swift, hosted SNL, in his monologue he beats up a cardboard cutout of West. The incident is also referenced in Eminem's single "No Love", which he says "Man, get these whack cocksuckers off stage/where the fuck is Kanye when you need him?/Snatch the mic from 'em, bitch, I'mma let you finish in a minute, yeah/the rap was tight/But I'm 'bout to spit the greatest verse of all time".[44]

In September 2010, West wrote a series of apologetic tweets addressed to Swift including "Beyonce didn't need that. MTV didn't need that and Taylor and her family friends and fans definitely didn't want or need that" and concluding with "I'm sorry Taylor." West also revealed he had written a song for Swift and if she did not accept the song, he would perform it himself.[45] Swift said that she received a call from the rapper and accepted.[46] She would respond in the form of a song, "Innocent" from her 2010 album, Speak Now.[47] After the incident, West went into seclusion for months, before releasing new music in 2010. Both artists are said to have benefited from the incident, both receiving commercial and critical acclaim for their 2010 albums, Speak Now, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.[48]

At the 2010 VMAs later that month, Swift sang "Innocent", a song widely believed to be about West, which The Washington Post described as "a small masterpiece of passive aggressiveness, a vivisection dressed up as a peace offering".[49] Music critics found Swift's performance overly serious and "petty".[50][51] In October 2010, West remarked that it was "inaccurate" for Swift's Fearless to have been named Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards earlier that year.[52] Speaking in November 2010, West said he failed to see what was "so arrogant" about his VMA interruption and described his actions as "selfless".[53][54] He argued it was "just disrespectful" and "retarded" for Swift to be included in the same award category as Beyoncé.[55] He added that "if it was the other way around" and Swift were an established artist who had "made the video of her career, do you think she would have lost to a brand new artist? Hell no!"[53][54] He claimed that his interruption caused Swift to "have 100 magazine covers and sell a million first week".[55] Also that month, he claimed that, "If I wasn't drunk, I would have been on stage longer ... Taylor never came to my defense at any interview. And rode the waves and rode it and rode it".[56][57] At the Costume Institute Gala in May 2011, Swift and West came face-to-face on the red carpet. West was observed to hold "a hand out, and the two exchanged a studiedly casual, "down low" high five".[58]

Jay-Z further parodied the event when accepting the award for Video of the Year at the 2012 BET Awards for Otis. He interrupted West during his portion of their joint acceptance speech by saying, "Excuse me Kanye I'mma let you continue but--", to which Kanye quipped in return, "I was trying to defend your girl man!"[59] In addition to the West controversy, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were performing "Empire State of Mind", but towards the end of their performance, Lil Mama jumped and danced on the stage uninvited. She later issued an apology.[60] Win Butler of Arcade Fire mimicked Kanye West's interruption in the 2013 YouTube Music Awards.

In 2013, Rolling Stone ranked it the #1 most wildest moment in VMA history.[61]


  1. ^ Janet Jackson To Pay Tribute To Michael At The VMAs. Retrieved on Sep 8, 2009.
  2. ^ Anitai, Tamar. "VMAs 2009: The Nominations Have Been Announced! Lady Gaga & Beyonce 9 Nominations Trump Britney's 7". MTV Buzzworthy. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ MTV's 2009 VMAS Pull Nine Million Viewers, Best ratings since '04, Rolling Stone. 2009.
  4. ^ 2009 VMAs Ratings Up 17%, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Kyle (September 16, 2009). "Kanye West's VMA Interruption Gives Birth To Internet Photo Meme". MTV. Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ "2009 MTV Video Music Award winners". MTV. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c MTV VMA Best Breakout NYC Artist|
  8. ^ "MTV Local Music Contests". OurStage. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  9. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout Bay Area Artist |
  10. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout Atlanta Artist |
  11. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout Chicago Artist |
  12. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout Boston Artist |
  13. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout Philly Artist |
  14. ^ MTV VMA Best Breakout DC Artist |
  15. ^ MTV Tr3s Best Breakout LA Artist |
  16. ^ "Janet Jackson Planning Spectacular VMA Tribute to Michael – OK! Magazine – The First for Celebrity News". Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  17. ^ Vena, Jocelyn. "Taylor Swift Promises 'Theatrics' For 2009 VMA Performance". MTV News. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  18. ^ Kanye West Crashes VMA Stage During Taylor Swift's Award Speech
  19. ^ a b c d e Respers, Lisa (September 14, 2009). "Anger over West's disruption at MTV awards". CNN. Archived from the original on September 26, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Kanye West Storms the VMAs Stage During Taylor Swift's Speech".  
  21. ^ a b Kreps, Daniel (September 13, 2009). "Kanye West Storms the VMAs Stage During Taylor Swift's Speech".  
  22. ^ "Taylor Swift Thanks "Gracious" Beyonce for Inviting Her Onstage After Kanye Stunt at VMAs".  
  23. ^ Kanye West Crashes VMA Stage During Taylor Swift's Award Speech. Kanye continues his history of onstage award-show rants, 2009.
  24. ^ a b Todd Martens and Yvonne Villarreal (September 15, 2009). "'"Kanye West expresses Swift regret on blog and 'The Jay Leno Show.  
  25. ^
  26. ^ Celebs Tweet Support For Taylor, Perez 2009.
  27. ^ "Taylor Swift calls up the MJ Morning Show...and then all hell breaks loose". Daly, Sean. 18-09-09. Retrieved 07-03-14. 
  28. ^ Shaheem Reid and Rahman Dukes (September 15, 2009). "50 Cent Slams Kanye West For VMA Outburst". MTV. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
  29. ^ "Adam Lambert, Donald Trump, Joe Jackson Slam Kanye West's VMA Stunt". MTV. September 13, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Taylor Swift's Post-VMA Surprise: Flowers from Janet Jackson - Janet Jackson, Taylor Swift, MTV Video Music Awards :". People. Orloff, Brian. 18-09-09. Retrieved 07-03-14. 
  31. ^ a b Obama calls Kayne 'jackass', The Politico. 2009.
  32. ^ a b c "'"Audio: President Obama Calls Kanye West a 'Jackass.  
  33. ^ a b c "'"Obama Calls Kanye West a 'Jackass.  
  34. ^ Obama calls Kanye a Jackass, TMZ. 2009.
  35. ^ "Jimmy Carter weighs in on Kanye West's VMA stunt". CNN. September 15, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  36. ^ "kanYe West : Blog :". Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
  37. ^ a b c Kanye West Tells Jay Leno He's 'Ashamed' Of VMA Outburst, MTV. 2009.
  38. ^ 103.5 Kiss FM
  39. ^ a b Powers, Ann (September 14, 2009). "Beyonce and Taylor Swift: Sisterhood is powerful, especially when male-directed".  
  40. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (September 15, 2009). "Taylor Swift Tells 'The View' Kanye West Hasn't Contacted Her. The country star discusses her reaction to the VMA incident.". MTV. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
  41. ^ a b c "Taylor Swift visits 'The View,' accepts Kanye apology".  
  42. ^ a b "Kanye calls Taylor Swift after 'View' appearance".  
  43. ^ : Taylor Swift monologueSaturday Night Live. Season 35, Episode 1559. Originally aired on Nov 7, 2009
  44. ^
  45. ^ Devon Thomas (September 7, 2010). "Kanye West Writes Song In Honor of Taylor Swift".  
  46. ^ Serpe, Gina. Rattled" Taylor Talks Kanyegate, Accepts View-Guilted Apology""".  
  47. ^ Duboff, Josh. "Watch Taylor Swift Sing About Kanyegate".  
  48. ^ Kaufman, Gil (December 1, 2010). "Kanye West Tops Billboard Chart With My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved December 15, 2010. 
  49. ^ Stewart, Allison (October 24, 2010). """Album review: Taylor Swift, "Speak Now.  
  50. ^ Caramanica, Jon (September 13, 2010). "Critic's Notebook – At MTV Awards, Taylor vs. Kanye Part 2". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  51. ^ "Did Taylor Swift outshine Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards? [Poll]".  
  52. ^ Hoffa, Meredith (October 21, 2010). "Kanye West says Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Ray Charles didn't deserve Grammys". Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  53. ^ a b "VIDEO: Kanye West Backtracks On Taylor Swift Apology". Radar Online. November 8, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  54. ^ a b "Kanye West Backtracks On Taylor Swift Apology". Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  55. ^ a b "Kanye West mocks Taylor Swift. Says his VMA stunt was "selfless". Takes credit for Speak Now's success. Insults critics and more". November 7, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  56. ^ "Kanye Blasts Taylor Swift & Matt Lauer (Video)". Rap Basement. November 24, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  57. ^ "Rapper Kanye West disses Taylor Swift ... again: Report".  
  58. ^ Widdicombe, Lizzie (October 10, 2011). "You Belong With Me".  
  59. ^
  60. ^ Exclusive: Lil Mama Apologizes For Crashing Jay-Z's VMA Performance, MTV. 2009.
  61. ^ Hyman, Dan (August 16, 2014). """The 24 Wildest Moments in VMA History.  

External links

  • Official VMA 2009 site
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