How’s this for a #ThrowbackThursday? It’s been 10 years since Kanye West made headlines for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for her Best Female Video win with his “Imma let you finish… ” declaration advocating for a Beyoncé “Single Ladies” victory.
In honor of the pop culture anniversary, Billboard is serving up an oral history that details what viewers didn’t see on TV at the 2009 Video Music Awards, including Beyoncé’s backstage reaction.
According to the interviews, which include accounts from production insiders who were present behind the scenes, there were tears from both Taylor and Beyoncé that evening. Former MTV correspondent and producer Jim Cantiello said of the moment, “I vividly remember the cutaway of Beyoncé half-smiling in disbelief and her mouth like, ‘Oh, Kanye!’ It's now a gif that is used in every comment ever in a Kanye story.”
As for the immediate aftermath? “I didn’t anticipate I’d have a crying artist and mom to deal with — literally right before she has to go out on Sixth Avenue and stand on a car and sing her song,” former Viacom Media Networks President Van Toffler explained.
He recalled of Beyoncé, “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.”
You may remember that when Beyoncé won the Moonman for Video of the Year later that night, she brought Taylor onstage to “have her moment.”
Toffler said, “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.”