By Chris Talbott
and Mesfin Fekadu
NEW YORK: Miley Cyrus became the rare artist to upstage Lady Gaga, but a vengeful Taylor Swift managed to take the spotlight from both during the MTV Video Music Awards.
Swift appeared to utter an expletive when One Direction appeared at Sunday night’s award show — a moment that lit up Twitter — before thanking a former beau for helping her win another moonman trophy for I Knew You Were Trouble.
“I also want to thank the person who inspired this song, who knows exactly who he is, because I got one of these,” Swift said. “Thank you so much!”
Gaga changed costumes four times during her first return to the stage since hip surgery as she performed her new single Applause at the top of the show. It was a predictably unpredictable appearance for Gaga, who seemed to pump in boos over the sound system as she opened the song in a white nun’s habit and square headdress. By the time she finished the song, she was surrounded by unitard-clad male dancers and wearing a thong bikini decorated in shells and a long blonde wig.
Cyrus immediately kicked things up well beyond provocative, however, as she appeared on stage with a multitude of dancing teddy bears in a bodysuit adorned with a cartoon character. She danced provocatively — a fad known as “twerking” — to her song We Can’t Stop. Then she changed into a nude bikini, ran a fan’s foam finger along her privates as Robin Thicke appeared on stage to perform Blurred Lines, then gave the singer a lap dance.
“Miley better go get a pregnancy test after all that grinding,” comedian Kevin Hart joked afterward.
Gaga and Cyrus were just the first of a cavalcade of music’s top stars performing Sunday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the awards were held for the first time.
The video of the year trophy was the final memorable moment of a night full of them for Justin Timberlake. He won the top honor for Mirrors on the same night he reunited briefly with ‘N Sync and received the Michael Jackson Vanguard Video Award.
“I don’t deserve the award, but I’m not going to give it back,” Timberlake said. “I’m taking this home.”
Timberlake, dressed in a black suit and black hat with a red feather, powered through a breathless series of solo hits before the other four members of ‘N Sync — JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass — joined him on stage, opening with Bye Bye Bye.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the night’s top winners, taking home best hip-hop video for Can’t Hold Us and best video with a social message for Same Love, a marriage equality anthem.
“Gay rights are human rights,” Macklemore said during the telecast. “There is no separation.”
Other winners included Pink and Nate Ruess for best collaboration, Thirty Seconds to Mars for best rock video and Selena Gomez for best pop video. Bruno Mars won best male video and One Direction took the prize for best song of the summer.