True to form, the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards was a madcap, star-studded affair. Taylor Swift was among the night’s top winners, while Nicki Minaj served as the show’s emcee while also delivering a performance of her new single, “Last Time I Saw You.”
Sean “Diddy” Combs took the stage for an epic performance medley as he was honored with the Global Icon Award, while Shakira — with her kids by her side — made history as the first South American Artist to accept the Video Vanguard Award. They were among an impressive list of performers, including Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Wayne, Anitta, Doja Cat, Kelsea Ballerini, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, Demi Lovato, Karol G, Måneskin, and Stray Kids. The night even included an NSYNC reunion!
The ceremony took place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday night, airing live on MTV, but there was plenty more action happening off-camera and behind the scenes — including backstage pics, an on-stage stumble, and a lone pop star among a sea of seat fillers.
Here are seven moments you didn’t see during the telecast.
1. Taylor Swift’s History-Making Win
Not every category was televised during Tuesday’s show. Among those that didn’t make the broadcast cut was Artist of the Year, which happened to mark Swift’s record-breaking ninth win of the evening.
The victory has officially solidified her place in VMAs history, tying for most wins in one night and now second-most overall wins behind Beyoncé. Swift was nominated along with Beyoncé, Doja Cat, Karol G, Nicki Minaj and Shakira for the award.
2. Everyone Wants a Pic With Taylor Swift
Amid what has undoubtedly been a banner year for Swift, it’s no surprise that fans and celebs were clamoring to share a moment with her at the event. A snapshot with Swift appeared to be a hot commodity, with everyone from Diddy, Sabrina Carpenter, Chloe and Halle Bailey, and Swift’s longtime bestie, Selena Gomez, grabbing a pic with the star.
3. Olivia Rodrigo’s Stumble
While the 20-year-old singer shocked the audience with staged technical issues during her performance, there was one minor real-life snafu. As Rodrigo was rushed off the stage during a transition between her songs, “Vampire” and “Get Him Back,” she appeared to actually trip and stumble. She was all smiles, however, and recovered like a pro as she sauntered back on stage for the second half of her performance.
4. Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj’s Sweet Reunion
Swift and Minaj appeared to exchange animated pleasantries backstage after Swift’s Best Direction award, which Minaj presented to her on-stage. Earlier in the evening, the ladies hugged it out on the pink carpet after arriving around the same time.
6. Doja Cat’s Radio Silence
Following her jaw-dropping online tirade against her fans, which resulted in a reported loss of more than 180,000 Instagram followers, an ET insider observed that the VMAs crowd was notably quiet any time the 27-year-old rapper’s name was called. Of her five nominations, Doja’s team took home one Moon Person on Tuesday night in the Art Direction category for her “Attention” music video.
Doja took the stage to perform a medley of her hits, “Attention,” “Paint the Town Red” and “Demons,” but it appeared that her mic may have also been on mute. It seemed as though Doja may have relied entirely on a backing track for her performance. While the practice is not uncommon for live telecasts, she appeared to be one of only a few to do so during Tuesday’s show. See the performance and judge for yourself, below.
6. Bums Out
Tiffany Haddish and Karol G were among the celebs putting their derrières on display for a photo op.
7. Swift Closes Out the Night
Swift appeared to be surrounded by an audience of seat fillers as she waited patiently to accept her final award of the night, as most of her celebrity cohorts had already left the premises by that point in the show. She accepted her trophy alongside her “Anti-Hero” collaborators, Chancler Haynes and Rina Yang.
Reporting by Tionah Lee.