Taylor Swift made a surprise appearance to pick up a trophy at Wednesday’s NME Awards in England, calling it “the craziest awards show I have ever been to.”
In the United States, some might save that description for the Grammys, which Swift did not attend, but then, that would only apply behind the scenes. The craziness at the NME Awards Swift was referring to took place in full view of the audience, as one of the winners, the rapper Slowthai, threw his microphone and a drink and leaped into the crowd to try to punch someone who’d shouted “misogynist” at him after he’d flirted with the show’s host.
Some of the other American winners, like Billie Eilish and Lana Del Rey, sent video acceptance speeches instead of showing up in person, which made Swift coming by to accept her “best solo act in the world” trophy all the more surprising. But then, as explained in her recent “London Boy” song, she has been spending more time in the neighborhood recently.
Swift accepted her award from Robyn, who was being honored in the same ceremony as songwriter of the decade. “Robyn, you inspire every single artist doing pop music right now. Honestly, you really do,” Swift said.
Swift last won an NME in 2016, and accepted via video at the time. The trophy comes in the form of a large fist and upraised middle finger, and the singer said her previous NME occupies a special place. “I was lucky enough to win one of these awards a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t able to go,” she said. “But I have this award and I put it in my kitchen, and every single morning when I go down and I wake up, I’ve just got this right in my face, just like a full middle finger putting me in my place, like, ‘Good morning!’ So it’s amazing to have a matching set.”
(When she accepted her award in 2016, she admitted on video, “I gotta be honest with you about this. When you first open up the box, this feels a little aggressive, and then you get used to it.”)
After saying thanks “to anyone who writes about music, who blogs about music, who tweets about music, who cares about music,” Swift acknowledged the rowdy tone of the show — something she was clearly in the mood for, as she took sips of white win at the beginning and end of her two-minute speech.
“This is my first time at the NME Awards and I just feel like everyone here is so shy, so reserved. It’s like, ‘Are you guys going to have any fun tonight? Are you going to come out of your shells, at all?’ Oh, wait — no, this is like the craziest awards show I have ever been to, and I love it so much.”
Not participating in any soused shenanigans: Courtney Love. The rocker was on hand to accept an honorary Icon award, and touted her sobriety.
“I have the honor of picking up this f— you thing,” said Love, “which is fantastic in the capitol of this fantastic country where I first picked up a New Musical Express in, I don’t know, 1981, in f—ing Liverpool, where I read the other day I lost my virginity to Joy Division’s ‘Isolation.’ I think that’s psychotic. I’m also 18 months sober today. I can’t believe that, and that’s pretty wild. … I’m very honored.”
Del Rey was given a “best album in the world” award for “Norman F—ing Rockwell,” and used one of the words from that title during her video acceptance speech. “
“Thank you so f–ing much,” Del Rey said. “I cannot tell you how much this award means to me.” Speaking to the no-longer-print magazine that hosts the show, she said, “You’ve supported me since 2011, put me on my first cover in London… Honestly, I was thinking about it, and without you guys I don’t even know how much music I’d be making.”
Other winners included Slipknot for best band in the world, the 1975 for British band, Clairo for new act, FKA Twigs for British solo act, the Cure for festival headliner and Foals for best live act. The 1975 also got an honorary award for innovation.
The brawl-ready Slowthai was being given an award as “hero,” ironically, when the ruckus occurred. He was said to have been playfully flirting with host Katharine Ryan when the audience member called out “misogynist.” “Thank you for ruining my speech,” he reportedly said before diving into the altercation. It’s unclear from conflicting reports whether he subsequently left voluntarily or was removed by security.
Swift also took to the stage alongside leftist folk icon Billy Bragg to co-present Glastonbury Festival organizer Emily Eavis with the “godlike genius” award, which is usually given to artists. Swift will be performing at the fest for the first time this summer. “I’m the ghost of NME past,” joked Bragg, “and you must be Taylor Swift.”
Swift’s outfit was a hit with the British fashion police. Not unlike her last public appearance, at the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of “Miss Americana,” Swift wore a feminine take on a suit, in what may or may not be a conscious allusion to her song “The Man,” which was just released as a music video. But her NMEs look took the look in an asymmetrical direction, as a sort o half-suit, actually, with a black-and-white pinstripe blazer that only covered one shoulder, leaving a white shirt revealed on the other.
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