Kanye vs. Taylor: Who Won at the VMAs?

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In an awards show dominated by performances and celebrity drama, winning an actual trophy was an afterthought at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The true winner? Who had the best reaction song to last year’s Kanye West debacle.

If you were living under a rock about a year ago, Kanye West, in a fit of raging ego/possible intoxication, interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 VMAs, proclaiming Beyonce to have deserved the prize more. It gave West a pop-culture villain role, and gave Swift a career boost. One year later, it was up to both of them to make a VMA statement.

Taylor Swift was up first, in a surprise performance inspired by West, even with a video replay of the interruption in question. With a stormy, dreary background straight out of the tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz, Swift pulled the saintly card, sans shoes, to dramatically deliver a new song, “Innocent,” with some choice lyrics. (See pictures of Taylor Swift.)

I guess you really did it this time
Left yourself in your war path
Lost your balance on a tightrope
Lost your mind trying to get it back

[...]

32 and still growing up now
Who you are is not what you did
You’re still an innocent

Kanye West got the coveted finale slot, and it was clear he was out to match Taylor’s drama. But West decided to showcase his skills as a producer, which are arguably his standout qualities, and then send up his bad reputation with a new song, “Runaway,” which “toasts” names that we can’t publish on NewsFeed. Video is below, with some salty language. (See pictures of Kanye West.)

In reality, they’re both winners — even if one of their performances was a disaster, they could console themselves by taking a swim in their pool full of money. The real winner of the night was Lady Gaga, taking home eight trophies, picking up her Video of the Year award wearing a dress made of meat, and then announcing her new record name, “Born This Way.”

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