Kanye vs. Taylor, Round 2: Is there a winner here?

Taylor-Swift-Kanye-West_320.jpg Image Credit: Vince Bucci/PictureGroup/MTV; Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com In the end, no skits or reenactments or Chelsea Handler-assisted reunions. Instead, Taylor Swift and Kanye West chose to address last year’s infamous onstage debacle through—what else?—song. (And to a lesser extent, interpretive dance.)

Taylor, always the expert at turning true-life experience into Billboard-topping hits in less time and with seemingly less effort than it takes most people to brush and floss, waited until now to unveil a ballad explicitly addressing the ’09 incident, though “explicit” may be a relative term here. Her lyrics—“Time turns flame to embers / You’ll have new Septembers / Every one of us has messed up too”—were a soft-glove study in forgive and forget (except, of course, also memorialize for eternity). And it all appeared genuinely heartfelt, even if the voice she delivered them in often failed to nail the notes.

Kanye, floaty chiffon-clad ballerinas aside, had no such vaseline on the looking-back lens; his “Runaway” chorus is a litany of NSFW (or, for that matter, radio) words: a—hole, scumbag, and jerk-off among them. So, was his appropriating of the outsized invective hurled at him endlessly after the Swift incident clever and revelatory, or just half-baked FCC bait?

Lyrically, it’s far from his best work, but if one thing can be counted on with ‘Ye, all goofy Twitter-fed hubris aside, it’s his fearlessness in exposing the kind of self-doubt and vulnerability that few in hip hop—let alone mainstream pop—even attempt, let alone succeed at.

Readers, what’s your take? Tell us in the comments section below.

More MTV VMAs coverage on EW.com:
MTV VMAs: We’re live-blogging it!
VMAs: Video of the Year nominees
VMA nominees: Surprising winners and losers
Kanye West apologizes to Taylor Swift: ‘I only want to do good.’
VMAs: 15 terrible fashion choices

Comments (171 total) Add your comment
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  • Bee

    i like you EW, but what is this lame obsession with the taylor-kanye incident? every other article is about them. it’s time to MOVE ON.

    • Shel

      Thank YOU!!!

    • Miles

      Entertainment Weekly reports Entertainment news, whether relevant or irrelevant to u… What do u expect?

      • Bee

        i get that. but every 5 seconds there’s a different article about this incident: what’s happening, what we want to happen, what she should do, what he should do, what obama should do, who won, etc. it needs to stop

    • anonymous

      PLUS, 3rd paragraph = clunkiest sentences i’ve ever read. editor, please.

    • kaloalo


      i mean what was up with that creepy and wrong gallery of taylor and kanye – THAT was unnecessary

  • Shel

    Why does there have to be a winner. Kanye began a twitter rant last week begging her to forgive him right before the VMA’s. Taylor responded with her song of forgivness. Kanye came to the VMA’s to sing about what a douchbag he is. In the end I think it is time to stop discussing the whole situation and move on.

    • a55face15

      There is never a winner. Only a LOSER!!!

      • Katja

        Ahh, this reminds me of a classic tag line that I think lends itself perfectly to this situation: Whoever wins, we lose. I do not care for all this revisiting of a year-old drama, particularly when the victim accepted the perpetrator’s apology forever ago. Maybe Kanye had the better performance, maybe Taylor wrote a classy song…I just haven’t cared about the event in question since, oh, October 2009. So I’m a bit exasperated that it got dredged up for this year’s VMAs, because it seems like both parties should be well past this by now. Just my opinion though.

      • Rachael

        Taylor left her “class” behind long ago when she decided to milk this incident a year later by performing it at the VMAs for more pity and attention. If she had class, she would have accepted his apology and moved on.

      • Rob

        Yea, it’s Kanye

  • Matt

    I think it’s time for Jimmy Fallon to load the Kanye-Taylor saga into the “Who Cares Hindenberg”…and Pete Wentz too.

  • Jim

    Then why did Knaye come out last week on his twitter begging for Taylor to forgive him if she forgave him last year??? He brought the whole thing up and she sang to him again tonight about her forgiveness!! Get yo facts straight!

    • Chris

      actually, Taylor wrote the song months ago, long before kanye tweeted his apologies. She planned this song for her album and for the VMAs tonight months ago, so SHE started this up again, NOT kanye. Get the facts straight yourself!

    • Theresa

      Jim: Taylor wrote this song early in the year, months before KAnye tweeted. So Taylor reopened everything long ago, as she planned to put this song on her album and make money off it. She is a pathetic fame whore.

    • du!

      I really think Kanye was singing to the people that have been hating on him and putting him down because they think he is self-centered. I don’t think he was trying to have disrespect for Taylor by singing that song. Both Taylor and Kanye are trying to tell people that everyone messes up in life. You reporters and bloggers are not using your brains if you really think that Kanye and Taylor have disrespect for one another. Did you listen to their lyrics? Taylor: “Everyone of us has messed up too”, “you’re still an innocent”. She is singing about Kanye’s difficult time. After his mom died he went crazy. Kanye: “I always find something wrong, you’ve been putting up with my sh## for way too long, I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most, maybe I got a plan, run away fast as you can.” Kanye was singing about how he was lost and that he screwed up in his life.

    • you people?

      @Theresa…Taylor is not a fame whore! She is a girl who was thinking that she should help him out by singing that song at the VMAs. It was the right choice for her to show the world that she forgave him. I’m sure Taylor would feel horrible if Kanye committed suicide because of his difficult life, so the proper and brave thing she did was try and open people’s eyes by telling them that people fall down in life.

    • funny crap

      WTF do you mean who won?

    • LP

      Joe, you don’t have a case. You’re a moron. And Taylor takes her life experiences and turns them into lyrics ALL THE TIME. It didnt feel like a publicity stunt, and apparently morons like Joe expected her to just write a song that was deliberately and explicitly addressing Kanye with every single line, and that’s just straight up stupid.

    • how sweet

      These two are very interesting lovers!!! :) So how are they…have they talked to each other lately??? :)

  • David

    Come on you know Taylor had to some how address the Kanye incident matter what. Theres no way she could of ignored it. She did a great job. Very classy. Kanye on the other hand, not so much. What a dbag.

    • rach10

      I totally agree.

    • Jim

      Thank YOU DAVID!! She had to address it. I think it is awesome how she told him, I forgive you.

    • Tessie

      Disagree. Taylor didn’t “have to address it.” That is BS. She should have accepted his apology in private and moved on. To write a whole song about it and use the footage was pathetic and self serving. She is truly nothing better then a fame whore. I almost feel sorry for her.

    • AK

      Taylor’s performance felt like she was continuing to wallow in victimhood. Kanye’s performance felt like he was finally forgiving himself and moving on. I was enraged with Kanye last year, but annoyed with Taylor this year. He definitely came out on top. Team WEST!

    • GreatAwardsShow

      @Tessie-my guess is that the workers had the video clip shown. I don’t think the clip part was Taylors idea.

    • kaloalo

      yea, you’re totally right

      she HAD to address it cause her new song sucks so much she needs to remind everyone why her career blew up in the first place a year ago

      and if she really was full of class and not playing the victim then why was her set a dilapidated house with her in bare feet and stuff – that picture doesn’t exactly evoke forgiveness to me, more like victim

      call me a hater but i was on taylor’s side in the beginning but now i’m just tired of all her crap

  • Miles

    I understand the “high road” taken by both, but considering the nature of the vma’s, a face-2-face situation was in order. Lackthereof left my viewing experience incomplete since Ms. Handler semi-drummed up a confrontation that never happened…

    • Lola

      There was no “high road taken by both.” Taylor tried to be better and she sucked, as usual. Kanye is king

      • Miles

        Neither is inherently talented. Who outperformed who is a matter of opinion. I’m mostly addressing the unfulfilled hype

      • Miles

        Also, my quotes imply that that’s what they tried whether achieved or not…

      • Go Home Susan

        King of what exactly? a**holes?

      • Lauren

        hahaha yess! i was waiting to read a comment i could reply to and yes. kanye is fking amazing. taylor milked this so much, it wasn’t even a big fking deal! she could have laughed at it and been like okay thanks! ;D and she would’ve been so much cooler. but nope. kanye. is. king.

  • Amy

    Taylor’s song was definitely better and will top the charts. Kanye’s song will not. Neither of them performed well…they can’t sing live.

    • Miles


    • Kris

      Wrong. Kanye was again superior with an unreleased song. Go, Kanye!!

    • Tommy

      Taylor’s song sucked, and she is a pathetic attention seeker who milked this thing for a year for pity votes and attention. Kanye MADE her famous and she should be thanking him on her knees. Her performance was pathetic as always.

      • Miles

        They both are guilty of milking this…

      • candacetx

        can’t wait to hear the AUTO-TUNED version of that taylor song..

      • Jeremy

        “Kanye MADE her famous…”. You’re joking, right? If you’ll remember, this whole situation happened when she WON the VMA last year. If Kanye made her famous, as you say, then how do you explain the fact that her win happened BEFORE Kanye was even remotely associated with her in any way. Go back under your lame a$$ rock.

      • Sam

        Kanye put her on another level. A level where EVERYONE recognized and talking about her.

        Get real, she wasn’t at that level before Kanye did what he did. She should be paying him for what he did.

  • Dave

    Omg, please stop with the Taylor vs Kanye crap. Why does anyone care anymore?
    Fact is, both performances sucked. Taylor can’t sing, and Kanye’s song was ridiculously stupid. So they both lose.

  • Dale

    I loved Taylor’s song. It really speaks about making mistakes and the fact that your mistakes do not make up who you are. We are all innocent. Thank you Taylor.

  • Janet

    Kanye For the Win! His song was genuine and real. Taylor’s was fake and a desperate cry for attention and pity once again. Her vocals were so bad my ears hurt, but her desperate cry for fame and attention was the worst part of all. She needs to get over it and stop milking this out for pity. She acts like he killed her first born or something. What a fame whore and pathetic person. Team Kanye!

    • Dale

      You suck!!

    • Eve

      Bottom line: Kanye is a loudmouth who thinks his opinion is more important than anyone else’s.

  • Shel

    Kanye is a dbag…Taylor was classy and Kanye…being older should try to make some classy music if he thinks he is a genius. Move on…yes…but how can we if the VMAs are going to be bringing it up again. So he tells a young girl to run away…nice dbag….and what is soooo good about his music? He has gone mental. She should runaway from his idiocracy.

    • Kris

      Did you listen to Kanye’s song, douchebag?

    • Miranda

      If Taylor was truly “classy” she wouldn’t have used the whole incident for more attention now that her new album is coming out and she needs buzz. She is so transparent and fake. If she were truly classy, she would have accepted his apology in private, and not used it on national television for more pity. Using the actual footage from last year’s show was so pathetic and tacky. She is the opposite of classy. She is a tacky desperate person who would sell her own mother down the river for a number 1 album and attention. Kanye is at least real and admitted he was wrong. Taylor plays the victim but is secretly8 laughing her way to the bank for the millions she made because of kanye.

      • Tim

        Um like kanye didn’t go all out for advertisement last week with his crazy twitter rant begging for her forgiveness. She gave it. She didn’t even advertise that she was going to perform at the VMA’s. What she did was classy. She forgave him after he asked her to.

      • Caitlyn

        Tim: Taylor is the one who reopened all this by writing the song months ago, and playinig it at the VMAs tonight for attention and more pity. That was NOT classy. That was manipulative and pathetic. She would kill her first born for media coverage.

  • Robert

    agree. Kanye took the high road and gave a sincere apology song. He got a standing O and people chanted his name. But taylor was a joke and her whole act is getting old. How long will she keep playing the victim? The classy thing to do would have been for Taylor to accept his apology in silence and move on. But no, she had to milk it for more attention and pity. I guess she tries to distract people from her bad vocals by any means necessary. So sick of her fake act!

    • Laura

      Uhm, Kanye gave a sincere apology song? How could you even understand a word he was saying? I couldn’t. All I heard was “I’m a douche, I’m a douche.” He’s full of himself. He ranted about her all week on twitter. He wants attention. The meaning of her song was that everyone makes mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define who they are. She was sticking up for him. Basically telling the world, yeah you made a mistake, but we all mess up sometimes. That was even a line in the song. “We all mess up, too.” Grow up.

    • David

      Wrong! People want to know if she accepted his apology. People will ask ask her in every interview, every magazine, everyone she meets in the streets. So the only way to address it is in song, so that people will leave it alone. She’s not “playing” the victim, she is the victim.

    • Thomas Forsythe

      No one CARES if she accepted his apology! We moved on a year ago, and you Taylor fans should too! Taylor is a self centered and manipulative. She milked this for a year and now used it at the VMAS for attention and pity again. NO ONE CARES ANYMORE TAYLOR! Move the heck on already!

    • Maria

      David get real. She is not a victim. She likely staged the whole thing last year and it made her entire career. She is about as pitiful as a viper snake. Everything she does is planned months in advance. She is laughing her way to the bank over all of this. It is not like he abused her or beat her after all. Some of you act like this was worse then the Chris Brown incident. Unbelievable. She is fake and milking this pity and attention for all its worth!

    • Rob

      Are you kidding me??? Laura and David are right. Besides this is only the second time she has addressed it. The first was her SNL appearence. And besides she rocked her performance. Also, it was about her forgiving him, saying we all mess up and what you did is not who you are.

  • Caitlin

    I liked both songs, but Kanye performed it better. Taylor can’t sing live. She just can’t. But yeah, I agree with those that say she had to address it.

  • nneka

    kanye won hands down. live audience clearly agreed. he got the standing ovation AND chants. his song is gonna be a hit because it give props to douchlords who get crap for saying what they think. taylor on the other hand can just add the sappy ballad to all her other sappy ballads. talented girl, she won the last round but he won this one. hopefully it’s over. definitlely downloading runaway though #teamkanyebutgivetaylorherprops

  • Taylor

    How come nobody clapped after I performed and everyone chanted Kanye’s name and gave him a standing ovation after he performed?
    brb gonna write a song about it.

    • Greg

      Love, love, love, love, loved that Kanye performance. Song is a certifiable anthem.

    • Sam

      LOL…sorry, Taylor. Although you have catchy songs…You suck singing live ::Kanye Shrug:::

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