Swift capped off a busy week where she announced her “first straight-up pop” album and revealed its first single “Shake It Off” by performing the 1989 track live for the first time on Sunday’s show. Wearing a crop top and high-waisted shorts with metallic fringe, Swift was introduced by her friend Lorde, who promised the performance would mark the start of a “new era” for Swift.
Unlike the “Shake It Off” music video that finds Swift awkwardly moving in a variety of dance styles, she held her own on the VMA stage, letting an army of bow-tied male dancers do the majority of the choreographic heavy lifting. It began with an overhead shot (reminiscent of Florence and the Machine’s 2010 performance of “Dog Days Are Over,”) and included nods to old Hollywood – both the work of Busby Berkeley and the glamor of Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” – but it wasn’t all serious.
In a moment of levity, Swift seemed as though she was about to leap off the huge 1989 sign on the stage. Instead, she stopped the song in its tracks, peeked at the plunge and told the audience, “I’m not jumping off of there. People getting bit by snakes, it’s ridiculous.” It was a sly a nod to the snake-bite mishap that went down during Nicki Minaj’s VMA rehearsals over the weekend, and it definitely got a few laughs. Encouraged, Swift then took “Shake It Off” home.
One of the advantages of Taylor Swift releasing a new album every two years is that it pretty much guarantees a VMA performance every even calendar year: Since her Video Music Award debut in 2009, the singer has performed at the MTV award show in 2010, 2012, and now 2014. 1989 arrives October 27th, and if its all as catchy as “Shake It Off,” we’re guessing Swift will be back at the 2015 VMAs as a nominee and not performer.