All these years later, this infamous story just keeps getting worse. Beyoncé’s reaction to Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs has us reliving the night(mare) all over again. The 2009 VMA debacle had West running on stage to interrupt Swift’s speech for winning Best Female Video, saying Beyoncé had one of “the best videos of all time” for the visual companion to her hit, “Single Ladies.”
Now, we’ve got more details about the whole event, thanks to an oral history provided by Billboard. According to a number of sources who were there that night, Beyoncé, like Swift, was overcome by the whole situation and started to cry backstage. Van Toffler, the former president of Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group, recalled to Billboard, “I walk behind the stage — and sure enough there is Beyoncé and her dad, and she is crying. She was like, ‘I didn’t know this was going to happen, I feel so bad for her.’ And that’s when it started to click in my head, and maybe hers, about potentially having the whole arc play out in that one night.”
Behind the scenes executives and professionals were scrambling to right the wrong, even begging Swift to stay as she originally wanted to leave, bringing her mom as her guest. Sure enough, Beyoncé did take the stage, accepting her own VMA award and calling Swift back to the mic, enabling the then 19-year-old to “have her moment.”
Toffler added, “It was not easy [to get Kanye to leave]. But after [Swift’s] performance, I had to go back to Taylor and Scott and her mom and say, ‘This is what could potentially happen at the end of the evening and you can have your moment to do your speech.'” Toffler continued, “There was a lot of begging, but fortunately she agreed to stay, and Beyoncé agreed to do a wonderfully gracious thing. So the Shakespearean arc played out over the course of the evening.”
Of course, the evening has gone on to live in infamy and has even sparked a continued warm-and-cold relationship between Swift and West. We’re not sure if those two have, or will ever, burry the hatchet. But now we know more about that night than we did before.