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The song is the title track off her album, which will hit stores on November 27.
Before the show, Keys spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet, explaining her plan for her performance and the meaning of her new album.
“It’s about how to maintain my passion, which is obviously music, and the way that I play, and just evolving and to talk about what it means to really be ‘on fire,’” she told THR.
The singer added that “being on fire” meant having “passion, and being unstoppable.”
“It’s about being yourself. We can be our own versions of girls on fire,” she added.
Keys’ performance featured an appearance by Nicki Minaj, who rapped about the ghost of Marilyn Monroe. “Spirit of Marilyn callin’ me, audibly/ Ballin’ she/ Said that she would never leave/ Continue to torture me,” she rapped onstage. It had previously been announced that Minaj would perform with another artist during the show, but the pairing remained a mystery until the live broadcast.
Minaj wasn’t the only fellow “girl on fire” to join Keys onstage. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas took the stage during the song, performing a series of flips for the adoring crowd.
“My focus is doing real, great, timeless performances and allowing that to speak for itself,” Keys told THR about her plan for the show.
The annual MTV VMAs were topped by One Direction, who took home three awards. Rihanna took the top prize of best video of the year for her song, “We Found Love.”
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford
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