On Tuesday night, MTV returned to its truest form with the 2023 Video Music Awards. It wasn’t just that the night was filled with back-to-back powerhouse performances from some of music’s biggest stars and that the awards themselves didn’t overshadow the creative craft. It also produced multiple genuinely viral reactions from those stars — and Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift were the audience MVPs.
If there’s one thing Swift is going to do at an awards show, it’s have a good time. The singer and songwriter has gone viral for her dancing at these kinds of events before, but the VMAs POV camera couldn’t get enough of her last night.
She grooved through “Hips Don’t Lie” during Shakira’s Video Vanguard Award performance and rocked out with Demi Lovato during her revamped medley of her biggest hits. Doja Cat’s performance of “Paint the Town Red” got the Swift hip-swaying stamp of approval, and she was captured reacting to Stray Kids hitting the stage, mouthing: “It’s giving movie. It’s giving cinematography.”
In one video, Swift can be seen searching for a piece of jewelry that must have fallen when she was going a little too hard during one of the sets. And seating her next to Ice Spice for most of the night was a gold mine of social content. The pair were captured laughing at something on Ice Spice’s phone and sharing equally bemused looks during an artist’s acceptance speech.
Swift stuck around for the whole night, accepting four awards during the broadcast in between partying in the stands. She hopped out of her seat to cheer for Ice Spice when the rapper was awarded Best New Artist and turned up her enthusiasm even more when her best friend Selena Gomez hit the stage to accept the first-ever Best Afrobeats award with Rema for “Calm Down.”
Gomez herself had a big night at the VMAs, in the viral sense. Bashful even in her own acceptance speech, the singer’s main priority for the night was having a good time and supporting her peers.
When SZA won Best R&B for “Shirt,” Gomez lit up, cheering and looking around for the singer. In one clip, she can be seen mouthing “Where is she?” before deflating with disappointment when it was revealed that SZA wasn’t in the building to accept the award. But really, Gomez was just glad it didn’t go to Chris Brown, who was nominated alongside Chlöe — when they read off the nominees, the singer pointedly didn’t clap for him.
Though most of the viral moments were lighthearted, the singer’s reaction to Olivia Rodrigo’s performance, where a faux-malfunction was used as a transition, was taken largely out of context. Gomez could be seen jumping at the sound of a firework and covering her ear as she watched with concern in case something had actually gone wrong. And in the true nature of the internet, fans attempted to spin it into her reacting negatively to Rodrigo’s singing.
Following the ceremony, Gomez posted a statement on her Instagram story regarding the internet’s reactions to her every move throughout the night. “I will never be a meme again,” she wrote. “I’d rather sit still than be dragged for being myself. Much love.”