In days leading up to the last night’s Video Music Awards, the biggest question was whether there would be a reunion between Kanye West and Taylor Swift after West’s infamous interruption of Swift’s acceptance speech at last year’s VMAs. While both Swift and West were in attendance, the much-anticipated meeting between the two did not happen — at least during the televised ceremony — but both of them did take the stage to debut new music that may have been influenced by last year’s VMA incident. Swift premiered a new ballad titled “Forgiveness,” while Kanye unveiled his new track “Runaway.”
It was rumored that Swift would perform a Speak Now song that was inspired by the incident with Kanye, and some lines in the ballad “Forgiveness” seem to hint directly at West, including “32 and still growing up now, who you are is not what you did, you’re still an innocent.” (Kanye was 32 years old at the time of the VMA incident.) Swift’s lyrics seem to echo Kanye West’s own thoughts, as West called himself “a 32 year old child” on Twitter earlier this month. “I am not a bad person. Even in that moment I was only trying to do good but people don’t always need my help,” Kanye wrote. “Beyonce didn’t need that. MTV didn’t need that and Taylor and her family friends and fans definitely didn’t want or need that.”
West kept a relatively low profile throughout this year’s VMAs. But the rapper finally emerged for the night’s finale, standing alone at the Nokia Theatre’s center stage to debut “Runaway.” “Let’s have a toast for the douche bags, let’s have a toast for the assholes, let’s have a toast for scumbags,” West sang. “I got a plan, run away as fast as you can.” Clipse’s Pusha-T, a recent addition to West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, joined West onstage for the finale.
Other highlights from last night’s VMAs: a surprise appearance from Rihanna, who joined Eminem on the show-opening medley of “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie,” an impressive performance of “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine and Nicki Minaj’s hyperactive rendition of “Check It Out” during the VMA’s pre-show.