I'm sorry, says Swift

This May 15, 2015 file photo shows Taylor Swift as she performs onstage at the Rock in Rio USA music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This May 15, 2015 file photo shows Taylor Swift as she performs onstage at the Rock in Rio USA music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK •Pop superstar Taylor Swift apologised on Thursday to rapper Nicki Minaj after striking a rare false note in a Twitter row over the MTV Video Music Awards nominations.

Swift had taken it personally on Tuesday when Minaj, who was passed over for Video of the Year, started an online discussion by saying the American music industry was biased against curvy black women and preferred "very slim" white women.

The very slim Swift, who received nine nominations for the awards, responded that it was unlike Minaj "to pit women against each other".

In the face of widespread criticism from Minaj's fans and the media, Swift backtracked two days later. "I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I'm sorry, Nicki," she tweeted.

In the Twitter debate about racial bias in the music industry, a fan of Minaj shared a photo of two little girls captioned "mainstream feminism" - The white child is clapping a hand over the black one's mouth.

The Guardian wrote a think piece headlined The Nicki Minaj Debate Is Bigger Than Taylor Swift's Ego, which was one of the recaps on the row that won praise from the rapper online. And there were apparent interventions from celebrities including reality star Kim Kardashian and singer Katy Perry.

Kardashian posted on Instagram a photo of herself captioned "Imma let you finish but...", which netizens decided was an allusion to the 2009 Video Music Awards, where her husband, rapper Kanye West, interrupted Swift's acceptance speech. But Kardashian quickly said her caption had been misunderstood and changed it.

Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul tweeted an invite to Swift and Minaj, asking them to "get together and talk this thru" with him over coffee and pancakes.

Singer Bruno Mars joked on Twitter: "Yo I want in on this twitter Beef!! VMAs is the new WWF!!"

Perry, Swift's long-time rumoured rival, suggested online that Swift had used the "pit women against each other" argument to put down another woman, Minaj.

Singer Ed Sheeran, Swift's friend, had to apologise on Twitter after the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying: "I think the Minaj point is a bit redundant. Her point is that you have to be skinny and white to get a Video of the Year nomination, but Beyonce's 7/11 is in there, and that is celebrating the female figure in every form." He said his remark had been taken out of context.

Grammy winner Swift showed her clout last month when she confronted Apple Inc and won. She persuaded the technology giant to reverse its policy and pay royalties to artists during a three-month trial period of a new music service.

Minaj had said she was bewildered by Swift's original response and wished the singer had spoken out for black women.

On Thursday, she responded to Swift's apology by tweeting: "That means so much Taylor, thank you." Minaj also thanked Perry by sending her a kissing smiley face.

The Video Music Awards will be handed out on Aug 30.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'I'm sorry, says Swift'. Print Edition | Subscribe