Taylor Swift performs at the MTV Video Music Awards at...

Taylor Swift performs at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. (Sept. 12, 2010) Credit: AP

Taylor Swift absolved Kanye West of last year’s onstage sin with one somber song, and West, also in song, beat himself up once again over his misbehavior.

The Swift-West drama took center stage at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, with both superstars either addressing or dancing around the incident that won’t die.

Both dramatic performances delivered on pre-show hype of a Kanye-Taylor sequel and overshadowed the evening’s other moments, including Lady Gaga’s eight-win sweep. Among her awards was video of the year for “Bad Romance.”

The stage for both songs was set last year, when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech, saying her trophy should have gone to Beyonce. The incident left Swift with hurt feelings, but West was the one who was seriously damaged, as intense backlash made him Mr. Unpopularity.

While West didn’t address the trophy-gate incident directly onstage, he rapped and sang a song that mocked the boorish behavior that has upstaged his music: “I always find something wrong; you’ve been putting up with my (expletive) for too long,” he said, before launching into the an unprintable chorus, which included the line: “Let’s have a toast to scumbags.”

While Swift is known for skewering those who have done her wrong in song, for West, she offered an olive branch with her song “Innocent,” written earlier this year: “Everyone of us has messed up, too ... I hope you remember today is never too late to be brand new.”

The 20-year-old’s poignant and powerful ode didn’t criticize West. Instead she sympathized with his difficult time in the spotlight and West’s own admissions that his ego has often gotten in his own way.

“Thirty-two and still growing up now; who you are is not what you did,” she sang softly, adding: “You’re still an innocent.”

 

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