Taylor Swift performs medley of hits ahead of snagging artist of the year and decade awards at AMAs
Singer Taylor Swift performs on the stage during the gala of 2019 Alibaba 11.11 Global Shopping Festival at Mercedes-Benz Arena on November 10, 2019 in Shanghai, China.
VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images
Taylor Swift took the stage on Sunday to sing hits from her catalog of music in front of a screaming crowd at the American Music Awards.
The singer was honored with the Artist of the Decade Award and performed a mash-up of old and new songs including “Love Story,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Blank Space.” She also took home the Artist of the Year award.
Swift’s performance was hotly anticipated after the singer spoke out earlier this month, alleging that music industry executives Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun were “exercising tyrannical control” and sought to block her from performing her old music at the show.
Borchetta and Braun denied Swift’s allegations.
Here are all of the songs Swift performed during the AMAs:
- “The Man”
- “Love Story”
- “I Knew You Were Trouble”
- “Blank Space”
- “Shake It Off”
Swift was joined by singers Camila Cabello and Halsey as well as ballet dancers Misty Copeland and Craig Hall during her performance. Legendary songwriter Carole King introduced Swift and presented her with the award.
“It’s rare to see all those talents in one person, but that defines Taylor Swift,” King said of Swift during the ceremony. “She is one of the only modern pop artists whose name appears as the sole songwriter in her song credits. The past decade has been incredible for this artist, and the best is yet to come.”
After completing her performance, Swift praised King’s influence on her career.
“I just remember, when I fell in love with music, it was right around the time I realized that how marvelous it was that an artist could transcend so many different phases and changes in peoples lives. So, you taught me that that’s a possibility.”
Swift went on to subtly comment on her experience in the music industry. She shied away from mentioning the Braun and Borchetta incidents, but humbly pointed out how much work she’d put into her music career over the last decade and how much her fans meant to her.
“All any of the artists, or really anyone in this room, really wants is to create something that will last. Whatever it is in life,” Swift said as she accepted the award for Artist of the Decade. “And the fact that this is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and of art and of fun and memories, all that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with you the fans over the years.”
“Guys, we have had fun, incredible, exhilarating times together,” she said. “And my it continue.”
Swift also took home the award for best pop/rock album for her album “Lover.” She has won the most Artist of the Year awards and the most awarded female artists — with 24 wins — in AMA history.
“This album really felt like a new beginning and I also really love my record label Universal and Republic,” Swift said during her acceptance speech Sunday ahead of her performance. “…thank you for being so generous to me and allowing me to make whatever music I want to make. As a song writer it is so thrilling to me that I get to keep doing that.”
‘Look what you made me do’
The feud between Braun and Swift dates back to 2009 when Kanye West interrupted the singer during her acceptance speech at the MTV Awards. West also taunted Swift in one of his songs and put a naked waxwork of her in one of his music videos.
West was, and continues to be, managed by Braun. Swift felt that Braun had encouraged and endorsed West’s behavior.
Notably, just ahead of Swift’s AMA performance, West tweeted out a highlighted Bible verse from the Book of Daniel which talks about “The Fiery Furnace” and the worship of false idols. It’s unclear if this was meant as a jab towards Swift, although some on social media have suggested so.
A decade later, there is still bad blood. The most recent contention stems from Braun’s acquisition of Big Machine Records, Swift’s old record label. The acquisition, which was announced in June, also meant Braun now owns the six albums Swift recorded while she was under contract with Big Machine.
Swift claims that Borchetta and Braun would not allow her to perform her old songs, the ones owned by Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings, during her AMA performance or in a Netflix documentary made about her life. She said that the executives would allow her to use her old music if she agreed to not re-record copycat versions of her songs next year, something she is legally allowed to do.
Big Machine Label Group said in a statement that at “no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special.”
However, Swift never said that she was told she couldn’t perform at the AMAs or that they would block her Netflix special. Swift said the music executives were not allowing her to perform her old songs. Big Machine Label Group did not address the use of her old songs specifically in its statement.
Later, Braun addressed Swift on Instagram, writing: “As the world now knows you can and should perform any song you would like at the AMAs. I have never and would never say otherwise. You do not need anyone’s permission to do so legally but I am stating it here clearly and publicly so there is no more debate or confusion.”
Braun also said in a statement that numerous death threats had been directed at his family.
— CNBC’s Riya Bhattacharjee, Elly Cosgrove and Mallika Mitra contributed to this report.