By Nekesa Mumbi Moody
Monday, September 14, 2009
NEW YORK, Sept. 13 -- The MTV Video Music Awards kicked off Sunday with a poignant, tender tribute to fallen icon Michael Jackson, but soon got back into raucous character thanks to Kanye West, who delivered yet another awards show outburst, disrupting an acceptance speech by country-pop sweetheart Taylor Swift.
West -- who has flipped out after losing at the VMAs, the Grammys, the American Music Awards and more -- complained once again that the wrong person had been awarded a trophy, but this time it was on Beyoncé's behalf.
Beyoncé, nominated for best female video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," was bested by Swift. The 19-year-old was giddy when she won for "You Belong to Me," saying: "I always wondered what it would be like to maybe win one of these someday, but never actually thought it would happen." Then West jumped onstage at Radio City Music Hall.
"Taylor, I'm really happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time," he said, as a shocked Beyoncé looked on and the crowd began to boo West.
A crestfallen Swift didn't finish her speech, but the crowd applauded her anyway. She later performed "You Belong to Me" in a subway station.
The celebrity-studded crowd was unforgiving of West. When Diddy read his name later in the show while introducing the nominees for best male video, the crowd booed and Diddy said in mock surprise: "What happened?" The crowd responded by chanting Swift's name. (T.I. ended up winning the award.)
West's antics were in sharp contrast to the show's start, which was reverential. Madonna gave a tender speech about her relationship with Michael Jackson, which began when she was a youngster idolizing the then-child star. She lamented the negative publicity that dogged him in his later years.
"Sometimes we have to lose things before we can truly appreciate them," said Madonna, dressed in black.
"Yes, Michael Jackson was a human being; but yes, he was a king," she told the audience, which included Jackson's brother Jermaine and father, Joe Jackson. "Long live the king." The musical tribute began afterward, as Jackson clones dressed in some of his signature outfits performed his famous dance moves from such videos as "Bad," "Smooth Criminal" and "Thriller." Then, as "Scream," his duet with Janet Jackson, appeared on a large screen, his sister came out to re-create the moves from the only video they made together as the crowd cheered her on. Afterward, she looked heavenward and bowed.
Michael Jackson, who died June 25, was an integral part of MTV's history -- his legendary videos changed the way music clips were made and he was the first black artist whose work was aired on the fledgling network.