MTV VMAs 2023: Olivia Rodrigo’s Shocking Stage Malfunction Explained

Sink your teeth into this: Olivia Rodrigo's apparent stage malfunction at the 2023 MTV VMAs on Sept. 12 was actually planned to look like her music video for "Vampire."

By Lindsay Weinberg Sep 13, 2023 1:39 AMTags
Watch: Olivia Rodrigo’s VMAs Stage Malfunction Explained!

This performance took guts to pull off.

Olivia Rodrigo dropped jaws at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 12, when the award show stage appeared to malfunction during her performance of "Vampire" in Newark, N.J. As she sang the powerful lyrics, the pyrotechnics of the show sparked as if exploding. Olivia looked around frantically before a red curtain fell from the ceiling and a stage worker quickly ushered her offstage. 

Stars in the crowd including Selena Gomez expressed concern for the singer; however, the issues actually appeared to be planned as part of the show, replicating her "Vampire" music video that was released in June. Not such a bad idea, right?

Her music video similarly started off with Olivia singing in a forested backdrop, before the camera pans out to show she's actually on stage at the "19th Annual Awards." The equipment starts going awry with sparks raining down from the stage lights, and she starts bleeding after getting hit by a spotlight.

At the VMAs, the 20-year-old went on to perform her new hit "get him back!" off her album GUTS, which further suggested nothing went wrong during her first song.

MTV VMAs: The Most Memorable Moments of All Time

Olivia had just released the music video for the revenge anthem "get him back!" ahead of the show, which showed clones of herself wreaking havoc on her apartment and cars.

As she wrote on Instagram after the album came out on Sept. 8, "making this album was so fun and scary and thrilling and fulfilling and im so happy it's yours!!!!!"

See Olivia and more stars on the VMAs red carpet here, and check the full list of winners here.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV

Taylor Swift headed into the show with 11 nominations, more than any other singer, most of which recognize her Midnights single "Anti-Hero," about her intrusive thoughts and insecurities. SZA followed in second with eight nods for her hits "Kill Bill" and "Shirt" from her 2022 album SOS

What else can you expect at the 2023 MTV VMAs? Nicki Minaj is coming back to emcee the VMAs ceremony. She'll take the stage to perform, as will Kelsea BalleriniDemi Lovato, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja CatKarol G and more.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Here's how to watch the show on TV and online.

In the meantime, scroll on to see the most stylish red carpet looks at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards.

Nicki Minaj

In Dolce & Gabbana.

Taylor Swift

In Versace dress and Ariel Saidian, Anita Ko, and Maria Tash jewelry.

Cardi B

In Dilara Findikoglu.

Shakira with sons Milan & Sasha

In Versace.

Demi Lovato

Olivia Rodrigo

In Ludovic de Saint Sernin.

Doja Cat

In Oscar De La Renta.

Chase Stokes and Kelsea Ballerini

Her in Mônot.

Selena Gomez

In Oscar de la Renta dress and Jimmy Choo shoes.

Megan Thee Stallion

In Brandon Blackwood.

Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick & Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC

Emily Ratajkowski

In Jean Paul Gaultier dress and Melissa Kaye jewelry.

Dove Cameron

In Coach dress and Simon G jewelry.

Tiffany Haddish

In Jason Wu.

Charli D'Amelio

In Shushu/Tong.

Lil Nas X

In Palomo Spain with Bible bag by Aylah Gallardo.


Sabrina Carpenter


In Area.

Dixie D'Amelio

In Maticevski.

Sofia Carson

In Alexandre Vauthier.

Bebe Rexha

Madelyn Cline

In Givenchy.


In Schiaparelli dress and Gianvito Rossi shoes.

Coco Jones

In Moschino.

Nelly Furtado

Karol G

In Ashi Studio dress and Jacob & Co. jewelry.


Chlöe Bailey

In Roberto Cavalli.


In David Koma.

View More Photos From MTV VMAs 2023: Red Carpet Fashion
Catch up on every jaw-dropping 2023 Video Music Awards moment and red carpet look at E! News' VMAs blog.