Nicki Minaj will open the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, the network announced late Thursday.
Minaj joins a lineup that includes Justin Bieber, the Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Demi Lovato, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tori Kelly, ASAP Rocky and Twenty One Pilots.
The pop-rap star helped kick off last year’s ceremony with a medley alongside Ariana Grande and Jessie J, but the addition of Minaj is surprising given her views when this year’s nominations were announced.
Massive hits like Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” Big Sean’s “IDFWU,” Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” and Minaj’s smash “Anaconda” were all recognized.
Built around a sample of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” her ode to her famous bottom is playful and brash. It’s a celebration of curvy black women who have seen their bodies shut out of fashion spreads.
Its cheeky video features women of different shades and body types dancing to her innuendo-laden lyrics. The visual inspired pieces on feminism, body image and cultural appropriation in a year when even Swift wanted to get in on twerking action.
But Minaj, who scored three nods, fired off a series of tweets airing her grievances about the nominees -- specifically, the song’s exclusion from the night’s biggest race, video of the year.
“If I was a different ‘kind’ of artist, ‘Anaconda’ would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well,” Minaj wrote. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” another note read. Her tweets raised larger questions about race and body image in pop music.
Swift was among those artists who were recognized in the top category (Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar and Ronson and Mars and were also nominated).
The country-pop singer, whose “Bad Blood” video stars many of her svelte, famous girlfriends, took Minaj’s response personally when she fired back on Twitter: “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.”
A social media debate between Minaj and Swift ensued; it eventually ended after Swift apologized, writing: “I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke.” Minaj went on record saying that there was no bad blood between the two, despite some headlines labeling their exchange as a “cat fight.”
News that Minaj will kickoff the show comes after a New York Times interview with host Miley Cyrus, who infamously started a firestorm during the 2013 ceremony with a tawdry performance alongside Robin Thicke, featured some rather biting quotes after being asked about the controversy.
“What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj, is not too kind. It’s not very polite,” Cyrus said. “I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love.”
Swift, Sheeran and Beyoncé lead in nominations at this year’s VMAs. Swift is up for nine trophies, Sheeran has six nominations, and Beyoncé is up for five trophies.
The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards will be shown live from Microsoft Theater at 9 p.m. Eastern time the West Coast broadcast will be pre-recorded).
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