Last night's inaugural YouTube Music Awards was, in many ways, the perfect awards ceremony for the YouTube generation: Frenetic, meme-happy, and bizarre enough to keep viewers engaged despite only six awards being handed out. But despite performances from Eminem and Lady Gaga — and, less predictably, a staged double suicide — the most buzzed-about moment channeled another, much more famous awards show.
The moment came when Taylor Swift was named the YouTube Phenomenon of the Year for the "I Knew You Were Trouble" video. (Though not, sadly, the remixed version with the screaming goat in it.) Swift wasn't in attendance, so a half dozen Swift fans were invited to step up and accept the award on her behalf.
But as they began to speak, Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler showed up to sing the praises of another YouTube hit from the past year. "Not Taylor Swift, I'm gonna let you finish," said Butler. "Not Taylor Swift, the YouTube phenomenon of the year was definitely 'The Harlem Shake.' I don't know. No disrespect, but everyone knows that if you've ever even been on YouTube, so whatever."
Butler then dropped the microphone and walked away.
The "interruption" was, of course, a winking riff on the most notorious moment from the 2009 Video Music Awards, when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video to sing the praises of fellow nominee Beyonce Knowles' "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." After jumping on stage and taking the microphone from Swift, West said, "Yo, Taylor. I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best video of all time. One of the best videos of all time." When Knowles was awarded the trophy for Video of the Year later in the evening, she brought Swift out so she could finish the speech West interrupted.