“Oh, this is such a good night!” she said after winning the top prize, besting One Direction, Ariana Grande, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. “Early this morning I watched my brother Austin graduate from Notre Dame … (and) to anyone who’s graduating this year … this is for you.”
“This is kind of a graduation for us,” Swift said to the audience of top musicians.
West, however, was booed during his smoky performance of All Day.
Swift kissed her rumored boyfriend Calvin Harris on the cheek and gave him a hug at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Swift, who sat next to the DJ-producer-singer, kicked off the awards by debuting her action-filled music video for Bad Blood, which stars Selena Gomez and Lena Dunham and showcases Swift as a fighting vixen.
The video opened with Swift and Gomez fighting men in an office and then fighting each other. It ended with Swift’s and Gomez’s armies going head to head. Other stars in the clip included Mariska Hargitay, Ellen Pompeo, Jessica Alba and Ellie Goulding, and Hayley Williams of Paramore.
One Direction, which recently downsized to four members, won the night’s first award for top duo/group.
The boy band also won top touring artist.
Van Halen was the night’s first performance and rocked the crowd with its 1984 hit Panama. Mariah Carey sang her first hit, Vision of Love, which was pitchy. She followed it with new single, Infinity, where she also struggled. She ended with a strong high note, though.
Britney Spears was energetic when she performed her new single, Pretty Girls, in a sheer black cat suit alongside Azalea. Swift and Zendaya sang along as Nicki Minaj mainly danced, barely singing or rapping live and relying on a backing track during Hey Mama and The Night Is Still Young.
Meghan Trainor performed a duet with John Legend and won hot 100 song for All About That Bass. She was teary and shaky onstage, as was her friend and collaborator Charlie Puth, who performed See You Again with Wiz Khalifa earlier in the show.
Hosts Ludacris and Chrissy Teigen offered some jokes Sunday night: The rapper described why he’s a good host, namechecking his music and acting credits. Teigen, a model, replied, “And I bang a musician” as her husband, John Legend, stood up.
Legend later won top radio song for his No. 1 hit, All of Me.
“I have to thank, of course, my beautiful co-host, my lovely wife, Chrissy Teigen,” he said. “I am so proud that we won this award together tonight.”
Ludacris offered some words about the late B.B. King and his renowned career while the camera panned to a guitar on an empty stage.
Swift was the lead nominee with 14 nominations, including top artist, pitting her against Sam Smith, Sheeran, One Direction and Ariana Grande. Swift won awards that didn’t make the broadcast, including top Hot 100 artist, billboard 200 artist and digital songs artist.
Smith, who recently had vocal surgery, didn’t attend the show. He won top male artist and wrote his thank you speech on cue cards, which aired via video.