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Posted at 1:00 AM ET, 09/13/2010

Five discussion-worthy performances at the MTV Video Music Awards

By Jen Chaney

Taylor Swift, performing at the VMAs. (AP) | More VMA Photos

Just like last year's MTV Video Music Awards, this year's VMAs will undoubtedly have most people chattering about two individuals: Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

Yes, the Big Interruption Moment from '09 still loomed large this year, thanks mostly to Swift's unveiling of a new song, "Innocent," that appeared to be a musical peace offering to West, delivered in the form of an overdramatic ballad that probably will eventually wind up in a movie trailer for some rom-com starring Katherine Heigl. But Swift's performance wasn't the only one that might provide the sort of conversation fodder capable of transforming Monday morning's office banter from painfully awkward to semi-spirited.

With that in mind, here are the five VMA performances most worthy of discussion, with video, after the jump.

Taylor Swift

As noted above, Swift's apparent musical salute to the Kanye West debacle will certainly stand as the most talked-about VMA moment of this year's event. Lest we not understand the context, her performance opened with footage from last year's ceremony, projected via black-and-white imagery on an old-time looking television that clearly conveyed that West saying "Imma let you finish" is as timeless and unforgettable as the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Swift then sang understanding lyrics like, "32 is still growing up now" (West was 32 at this time last year) and "Who you are is not what you did," seemingly referring to and forgiving West for his rude behavior, while also turning the whole episode into the equivalent of a teaching moment on a crummy Disney Channel sitcom. But not to worry, Kanye West would eventually elevate the dialogue a few notches.

Kanye West

And by elevate, what I actually mean is that West treated us to "Runaway," a track whose lyrics encouraged the crowd to "give a toast to the [bleep]bags" and to the [bleep]holes," a tongue-in-cheek move that suggested that, yes, he knows he's been one of them himself. After Swift's supremely earnest nod to last year's events, West's performance seemed a little silly. Yet at the same time, it also put that whole largely meaningless event into much more appropriate perspective. It's time to laugh it off, admit that Kanye will be Kanye and move on, not turn our angsty diary entries into pop tunes for the entire world to hear.



Justin Bieber

This standard dose of Bieber doing his "Baby, baby, baby, ohhhh..." routine would not have been notable except for the fact that it got a lot of Twitterers riled up about the fact that the kid appeared to be lip synching.

To be fair, Bieber wasn't the only artist who failed to fully flex his vocal muscles at the VMAs. He just happens to be the one who is most fun to mock in such situations. Personally, I have to agree with a tweet that came from -- dare I speak his Twitter handle? -- Lord_Voldemort7: "The only excuse for lip-synching at the VMAs is if you're gyrating with a live snake. If you can't sing live, sit down. That is all."

Florence + the Machine

Not seemingly lip-synching? The powerful Florence Welch, aka Florence + the Machine, who delivered the most legitimately excellent performance of the night with "Dog Days Are Over."

Lady Gaga

OK, technically Gaga didn't perform, she just won tons of awards and wore insane dresses that made it next to impossible for her to get out of her seat to claim them.

But when she accepted the Video of the Year Moon Man for "Bad Romance," she kept her promise to announce the name of her next album -- "Born This Way" -- and even crooned a few bars of its title track. And those few seconds were far more riveting than much of what happened during much of this year's VMAs.

So which performance did you find most memorable? Weigh in with a comment. And please, know that you can speak freely. Who you are is not what you write in a Celebritology comment. Taylor Swift told me so.

By Jen Chaney  | September 13, 2010; 1:00 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Music, Pop Culture  
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Comments

Who cares about this wacky tin-hat and Radio Disney crowd?

The dearth of actual CDs in stores says that WE THE PEOPLE want real artists!

Posted by: bs2004 | September 13, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

C'mon Jen. Clearly the Red Carpet for the VMAs was more interesting than the show. Whur's the gallery?

I am glad the fake feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift has reached a fake reconciliation. According to 60 minutes, and I can't tell you how much it pains me to type this, Kanye was right. Beyonce is the greatest entertainer of her generation, if Barbra Streisand was of hers.

I eagerly anticipate NEXT year's awards, when at least one performer, probably Beyonce, will be gyrating with a live snake.

Posted by: reddragon1 | September 13, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Didn't watch them - just saw some clips this morning. I'd admire La Gaga & her outfits more if she were able to walk in them. It was painful watching her trying to get up the steps to accept her awards; she looked like an old lady in need of a walker.

Posted by: mat00 | September 13, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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