LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato and Lorde hit the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) red carpet early on Sunday as speculation grew whether Taylor Swift would make a scene-stealing appearance to promote her new single “Look What You Made Me Do.”
The live show in Los Angeles will feature the world premiere of the video for Swift’s single in which the singer takes aims at unnamed people who tried to take her down, and declares her old self dead.
The single, released late on Thursday, set a first day global record on Spotify of more than eight million streams, the music platform said. A video featuring only lyrics had been viewed more than 37 million times on YouTube by Sunday.
VMA organizers have not said whether Swift, 27, who is launching a harder image and her first album in three years, will attend Sunday’s ceremony. Her long-time rival Katy Perry is hosting the three-hour show and will perform a medley of songs from her “Witness” album.
Swift has just one nomination on Sunday, for her “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” single collaboration with Zayn Malik.
In an early pre-show surprise, global Latin hit “Despacito” lost the song of summer VMA award to Philadelphia hip hop artist Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3,” in the fan-voted awards.
Speculation over Swift’s attendance and the buzz over her new single has sidelined the rest of Sunday’s line-up, which includes rapper Kendrick Lamar, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Lovato, Lorde, Canadian rapper The Weeknd, girl group Fifth Harmony and best new artist contender Julia Michaels.
Lamar leads all comers with eight VMA nominations for his “Humble” music video, a searing critique on the excesses of fame and social media.
The VMAs are known for memorable moments, like the onstage 2003 lip lock between Madonna and Britney Spears, Cyrus twerking with a foam finger in a flesh-colored bikini in 2013, and Kanye West’s 2009 interruption of Swift’s acceptance speech.
Cyrus, 24, pledged there would be no repeat of her 2013 performance on Sunday, posting a throwback picture on Twitter and saying “Sorry dad, I’ll be good tonight I promise.”
Lamar, The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Lorde, Sheeran and Ariana Grande are competing for one of the top awards – artist of the year.
Lamar’s video “Humble,” The Weeknd’s “Reminder,” Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” and DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller are the nominees for video of the year.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao and Andrew Hay