NEW YORK - The MTV Video Music Awards kicked off Sunday with a poignant, tender tribute to icon Michael Jackson, right, but soon got back into raucous character thanks to Kanye West, who delivered yet another awards show outburst at the expense of country and pop sweetheart Taylor Swift.
The two moments represented the highs and the lows of the VMAs, which are defined not by its awards, but its wacky and tacky moments.
West provided the wacky and tacky soon after the Jackson tribute, changing the mood from bittersweet to just plain bitter. West - who has flipped out after losing at the VMAs, the Grammys, the American Music Awards and more - complained again that the wrong person had been awarded a trophy. This time, it was on behalf of Beyonce.
Beyonce, nominated for best female video, was bested by Swift, the best-selling artist of the year, outside of Jackson.
The 19-year-old was giddy when she won for her clip You Belong With Me, saying, "I always wondered what it would be like to maybe win one of these someday, but never actually thought it would happen."
But West ruined Swift's moment when he jumped on stage at Radio City Music Hall.
"Taylor, I'm really happy for you, and I'm gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time," he said, as a shocked Beyonce looked on and the crowd began to boo.
A crestfallen Swift didn't finish her speech, but the crowd applauded her anyway.
Swift later got her chance, courtesy of Beyonce, who won video of the year for Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). When she won, she recalled that she won her first VMA as a 17-year-old as part of Destiny's Child.
"I remember how excited I was," she said. "I'd like Taylor to come out and have her moment."
A smiling but nervous Swift then said, "Can we try this again?" before going on to thank everyone she would have thanked had West not interrupted her.
West's antics were in sharp contrast to the show's start, which was reverential. Madonna gave a moving speech about her relationship with Michael Jackson.
For a list of the winners go to www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2009/