Swift’s VMAs Odyssey: A Comprehensive Look at Taylor Swift’s Journey on the MTV Stage

Taylor Swift is seen backstage during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards

Taylor Swift has a long history with the MTV VMAs that spans red carpet slays, buzzworthy performances and, of course, cameos from her famous friends.

The singer made her very first appearance at the show in 2008, and since then, she has received 23 total VMAs, including four wins for video of the year.

In addition to winning big at the show, she has graced the VMAs stage on numerous occasions including her show-stopping performance of “Shake It Off” in 2014 and opening the 2015 VMAs alongside 2022 Vanguard Award winner Nicki Minaj.

Take a look back at her most memorable VMAs moments ahead.


Taylor Swift at the 2008 MTV VMAs

2008 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet

Swift made her first VMAs appearance in 2008, resplendent in fluffy curls and a sweet white dress. It was the perfect VMAs debut look for America’s newest country sweetheart.

2008 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet

The singer kicked off her VMAs career on a strong note, interviewing celebs on the red carpet (including the Jonas Brothers). Oh, and did we mention that she was nominated for the artist to watch category alongside Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus?


Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs

2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet

In 2009, Swift’s return to the VMAs was even more exciting: She rolled up in a literal carriage, because why not, and made us all instantly question why we wanted cars for our 16th birthdays.

2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Of course, 2009 was also the year that Kanye West famously stagecrashed Swift after she won the best female video award for “You Belong with Me.”

Swift was in the middle of thanking everyone for the award saying, “I always dreamed about what it would be like to maybe win one of these some day, but I never actually thought it would have happened. I sing country music so thank you so much for giving me a chance to win a VMA award.” That’s when West broke in, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

The singer handled the shocking moment with grace, and in 2013, Vanity Fair even revealed that she has a framed photo of the incident in her house.

2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Press Room

Believe it or not, her night wasn’t over yet.

Swift performed “You Belong with Me” on a moving subway (which might be the most glamorous thing to ever happen on the subway).

2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Swift capped off one heckuva eventful night when Beyoncé brought her up to give her back her moment.


Taylor Swift at the 2010 MTV VMAs

2010 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

How do you follow up an awards show like that? In 2010, Swift was back to perform “Innocent,” which was inspired by the previous year’s interruption.

“I think a lot of people expected me to write a song about him. But for me it was important to write a song to him,” she told New York magazine of West. The emotional performance included a clip from the stagecrash and a barefoot Swift.


Taylor Swift at the 2012 MTV VMAs

2012 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet

Swift went on a brief VMAs hiatus, returning to the awards show in 2012. With freshly chopped bangs and now-signature red lipstick, the singer was beginning to usher in the Red era.

2012 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Of course, she took to the stage (in stripes!) to perform “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”


Taylor Swift at the 2013 MTV VMAs

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Celebrity Sightings

The next year, Swift walked the carpet in an ultra form-fitting navy gown and faux bob. (A sign of haircuts to come?)

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

In 2013, she also scooped up a best female video award for “I Knew You Were Trouble.”


Taylor Swift at the 2014 MTV VMAs

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals

Swift didn’t slow down in 2014, walking the carpet in sky-high heels and a blue romper.

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Roaming Show

She was about to drop her fifth studio album, 1989, and performed a very sparkly rendition of “Shake It Off.”

Seriously. We will never be over the spangly two-piece and the tux-clad dancers.


Taylor Swift at the 2015 MTV VMAs

2015 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet

However, nothing could ever prepare us for Swift’s 2015 entrance. She was nominated for “Bad Blood,” so it only made sense that she brought her squad — a.k.a. the stars of her music video — as her date(s).

2015 MTV Video Music Awards - Roaming Show

Speaking of “Bad Blood,” yes, it won the video of the year honor.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift (L) and rapper Nicki Minaj perform onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

She also took to the stage to perform a “The Night Is Still Young/ Bad Blood” mash-up with Nicki Minaj. (The performance quashed any rumors of beef between the two musicians, who got into a Twitter tiff ahead of the awards over a lack of diversity among nominees.)

2015 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show

The singer capped off her night by presenting Kanye West with the iconic Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.


Taylor Swift at the 2017 MTV VMAs

While Swift opted out of the awards the next two years, she left fans absolutely shook when she premiered her “Look What You Made Me Do” video during the 2017 show.

The audience was still reeling from the epic visual when the singer and Zayn won the best collaboration award for their song “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” In their absence, co-writer Jack Antonoff stepped up to the mic to accept the trophy.


Taylor Swift at the 2019 MTV VMAs

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 26: Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV)

Swift made a grand return to the show in 2019, performing a medley of hits on the stage, including “You Need to Calm Down” and a stripped-down version of “Lover” from her seventh studio album of the same name.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 26: Taylor Swift receives 'Video of the Year Award' onstage during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV)

During the show, she also took home video for good and video of the year for “You Need to Calm Down,” using her acceptance speech for the latter to promote the Equality Act.


Taylor Swift at the 2022 MTV VMAs

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 28: Taylor Swift attends the 2022 MTV VMAs at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic)

Swift made a surprise appearance at the 2022 VMAs, where she was up for five awards, including video of the year for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).” For the special appearance, she looked like a sparkly mirrorball as she sported an Oscar de la Renta dress.

Taylor Swift, winner of the Best Video, Best Direction, and Best Long Form Video awards, poses in the press room at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards

At the end of the show, the singer became the first artist to win video of the year three times, having previously taken home the award for “Bad Blood” (featuring Kendrick Lamar, 2015) and “You Need to Calm Down” (2019).

In her speech, she gave fans another shock as she announced her album Midnights.


Taylor Swift at the 2023 MTV VMAs

Taylor Swift at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards held at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023

Once again, Swift surprised fans as she stepped out at the MTV VMAs in a daring Versace halter-neck gown, which evoked her Reputation era.

Taylor Swift accepts the Best Pop award for Anti-Hero onstage during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards

During the award show, Swift had a millennial moment as she freaked out over *NSYNC’s surprise reunion on stage. She proceeded to geek out as the beloved ’90s boy band awarded her with the award for best pop video — and traded friendship bracelets with her!

“You’re pop personified, so to receive this from your golden pop hands is really … it’s too much,” Swift told the band during her speech. “Thank you for the friendship bracelets.”

Ice Spice and Taylor Swift attend the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey.

As the night went on, Swift was seen having a good time in the audience as she mingled with fellow artists like Ice Spice and Sabrina Carpenter, danced along to all the star-studded performances and enjoyed a few drinks.

Taylor Swift MTV VMA awards 09 12 23

Naturally, Swift ended the night by making history. As she took home video of the year for “Anti-Hero,” she became the first person to ever receive the award four times. With a total of nine wins that night, she also became the second most-awarded artist in the show’s history, right behind Beyoncé who has 26 wins, per Rolling Stone.

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