Pop megastar Taylor Swift has dominated yet another awards show – taking home the top prize and several other gongs at MTV’s Video Music Awards.

“This is unbelievable,” Swift told the crowd as she picked up the prize for video of the year for Anti-Hero, the first single from her 2022 album, Midnights.

The star was also named artist of the year, beating stars including Beyonce, Shakira and host Nicki Minaj to the award – for which the six nominees were all female for the first time.

Anti-Hero – a tale of insecurity featuring the much-memed line “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” – was crowned song of the year and also took the prize for best direction, while Midnights was named best album.

Taylor Swift accepts the award for video of the year for "Anti-Hero during the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Swift is now nearing Madonna’s record of 20 VMAs. Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Joey Fatone, from left, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick of NYSYNC present the award for best pop during the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Tearin’ up our hearts: NSYNC members Joey Fatone, from left, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick reunited to present Swift with one of her many prizes. Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Swift also collected the best pop video award in a moment that almost eclipsed her bigger wins – thanks to an on-stage reunion by US boyband NSYNC, who presented the gong.

“I had your dolls!” the singer said to band members including Justin Timberlake. “You are pop personified. So to receive this from your golden pop hands, it’s too much.”

NSYNC dished out the trophy more than 20 years after first picking up the award themselves, for hit single Bye Bye Bye in 2000, with Lance Bass handing Swift a friendship bracelet – as fans do at her shows.

Swift also dominated MTV’s Europe Music Awards in 2022 and her latest haul comes following the end of the US leg of her sell-out Eras tour, which resumes in South America in November. Throughout her career she has now won 18 VMAs in total, just two behind the overall record held by Madonna.

Olivia Rodrigo performs during the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Olivia Rodrigo was among the star performers. Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Shakira performs during the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Shakira won a lifetime achievement prize. Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

A global icon: ‘This is for 30 years’

Other winners from the MTV VMAs ceremony, held in Newark, New Jersey, included best new artist Ice Spice. Minaj took home the prize for best hip-hop video for Super Freaky Girl – and Shakira and Sean “Diddy” Combs won the Vanguard award for lifetime achievement and the global icon award respectively.

Rapper Combs, known for hits including Bad Boy For Life, Come With Me, and I’ll Be Missing You, his tribute to Notorious BIG, told the audience: “This is for 30 years. I pray to God that you get to do what you love for 30 years.”

Rema and Selena Gomez won the first MTV VMA for Afrobeats music, for their collaboration Calm Down.

Nicki Minaj accepts the award for best hip-hop for "Super Freaky Girl" during the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Nicki Minaj hosted, performed, and accepted the award for best hip-hop video. Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Sean "Diddy" Combs, winner of the global icon award, poses in the press toom at the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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It’s Diddy… Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs was named global icon. Pic: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

‘Thank you for helping me fight my battles’

Minaj, one of the night’s performers, joined Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J and other rap legends for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop that concluded with Run DMC’s Walk This Way.

And Colombian pop singer Shakira sang a bilingual medley of her hits including Hips Don’t Lie and Whenever, Wherever. “I want to share this award with my fans who always, always support me through thick and thin,” she said as she accepted her award. “Thank you so much for being my army and helping me fight all my battles.”

Stars including Demi Lovato, Lil Wayne and Olivia Rodrigo also performed at the event.

Other winners included Blackpink, who were named best group; Stray Kids, who won the best K-pop award; SZA, who scored best R&B video for Shirt; and former Eurovision winners Maneskin, who took the rock video prize for The Loneliest.

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