Theron Kirkman, AP
"You get really nervous," the 22-year-old superstar tells MTV. "It's a mixture of all these emotions of excitement of nerves of planning, of making sure that you have enough rehearsal time, know all your blocking ... because the thing about the VMAs is, the people that help put together the performances are honestly some of the best people you have ever worked with and they put together these huge, vast, massively entertaining performances. You have to make sure that you are ready to go onstage and face the entire world of music fans that are watching that show."
The three-time 2012 CMA Awards nominee, including a nod for Entertainer of the Year, adds that the multi-genre VMAs create additional pressure that she doesn't always feel. "I get nervous -- really, really, really nervous," Taylor admits. "There's a point where you feel like, 'OK, this is pretty close to cruise control; we're on the stage, I'm walking, my legs are working right, it's fine. You're not shaking, you're great, everything's cool.' You can get yourself there mentally, but I definitely get nervous before I go on, especially if it's an awards show that's huge and important like the VMAs."
The multi-platinum selling singer uses one mantra to give her the extra boost she needs right before she takes the microphone: "'Do not mess this up. Everything will come crashing down if you mess it up,'" Taylor repeats to herself. "It's a little more intense and the voice is a little meaner, but that's basically what happens."
The Pennsylvania native might have a valid reason for her nerves kicking into high-gear for the VMAs. It was four years ago, during the 2009 ceremony, when her acceptance speech for Best Female Video (for her hit "You Belong With Me") was interrupted by rapper Kanye West.
Tonight, Taylor will debut a new song from her upcoming album, Red, which will hit shelves on October 22. Pre-order the CD here.
The VMAs will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight at 8:00 PM ET.