NEW YORK – Taylor Swift opened on Monday the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, New Jersey, and picked up two major awards, including the top honor, Video of the Year.
Swift kicked off the awards performing two songs, “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover,” from her latest album of the same name.
She was the top contender at the awards with 10 nominations, the same number as Ariana Grande, who also won big at the event with Artist of the Year, Song of Summer for “Boyfriend” and Best Art Direction.
Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” took two of the most coveted awards of the night: Video of the Year and Video for Good.
The anti-hate anthem brought a political message to the stage by calling for the passing of the Equality Act, which ensures equal rights for everyone.
While accepting her award, a teary-eyed Swift, surrounded by a group of LGBTQ activists who had earlier performed with her, said that “at the end of this video there was a petition, and there still is a petition, for the Equality Act, which basically just says we all deserve equal rights under the law.”
“And I want to thank everyone who signed that petition because it now has half a million signatures – which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” she added with a poke at Trump.
Rosalia and J Balvin took out the Best Latin and Best Choreography awards for their collaboration on “Con Altura.”
Dressed in a tight black suit with crystals of the same color, the Spanish singer said she was “incredibly honored” to be at the gala, coming from her hometown Barcelona.
“Thank you for letting me perform tonight and sing in Spanish,” said the visibly excited Rosalia, who performed “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” and “Aute Cuture.”
J Balvin, who also performed “Que Pretendes” with Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny, dedicated his speech to asking for help to fight the fires sweeping the Amazon.
“We need help for the Amazon because it is burning,” he said.
The event was hosted by Sebastian Maniscalco, and had presenters for each category including Queen Latifah, Billy Ray Cyrus, John Travolta and the cast members of “The Sopranos.”
Among the performances was Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes with their racy hit “Señorita,” which won Best Collaboration, and an emotional appearance by Miley Cyrus, who sang “Slide Away,” her first song since her separation from actor Liam Hemsworth.
Other award winners included teen sensation Billie Eilish, who debuted by taking out Best New Artist and Push Artist of the Year, while the Jonas Brothers took home Best Pop for “Sucker,” and Cardi B Best Hip-Hop for “Money.”
The Video Vanguard award went to Missy Elliot, and Song of the Year went to Lil Nas X with “Old Town Road” feat. Billy Ray Cyrus.