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Why forgiveness is a dish best served cold for Taylor Swift

As musical feuds go, it wasn't exactly Oasis versus Blur – but the resolution that came last night was a big moment nonetheless. Twelve months after the rapper Kanye West visited mortification upon the music industry by insulting its youthful superstar Taylor Swift at 2009's MTV Video Music Awards, the country singer used this year's ceremony to sing a song of forgiveness – and, to everyone's relief, Kanye smiled.

The moment that caused the fuss may not seem like a particularly big deal in the grand scheme of things, but in the league of awards show horrors it must rank near the top. In an astonishing move that was far from his first offence of the sort, Mr West took to the stage at last year's ceremony as Ms Swift accepted the Best Female Video gong, grabbed the microphone, and bluntly told the viewing public that Beyoncé had been robbed.

And so to this year's edition of the awards. The roll-call of winners was dominated, predictably, by Lady Gaga, who came on stage no fewer than eight times to collect prizes in an outfit that looked as if it was made from cuts of meat. But the audience's attention was elsewhere. Even as the boos resounded for Mr West, Ms Swift took the stage, and sang "Innocent", a song of pity for the rapper, who is 13 years her senior.

"Thirty-two and still growing up now, who you are is not what you did, you're still an innocent," Ms Swift offered, in deadly earnest tones. "Every one of us has messed up, too, I hope you remember today is never too late to be brand new." Kanye refrained from marching on stage again, and the industry exhaled in happy relief.

Not every part of the evening was quite so straight-faced. The humour was provided by the recently jailed Lindsay Lohan, who mused about alcohol abuse with the show's mistress of ceremonies, the talk show host Chelsea Handler. "You think anyone would work with a drunk?" she asked Handler. "Take it from me! They don't!"

But it was only the star wattage of Ms Gaga that could seize the spotlight from the West-Swift rapprochement. Her eight awards included best video of the year, presented by another woman with a talent for costume overreach, Cher.

Lady Gaga cried on cue as she accepted the video from sparkly Cher. "I was so nervous tonight that I'd let my fans down," she confided.

If Mr West felt similarly, he hid it well. Although his closing performance did not refer as directly to the row as Miss Swift's, it did hint at the same topic – but in a rather more ambivalent tone. "I always find something wrong; you've been putting up with my shit for too long," he sang. "Let's toast to the scumbags."

Awards night antics

*Few stage invasions have had the mischievous impact of Jarvis Cocker's during Michael Jackson's Messianic performance at the 1996 Brits. As the King of Pop descended from on high, the Pulp singer dashed out to bare his behind. The performance was fatally undermined.

*John Prescott may not be a pop star, and Chumbawamba have sunk into obscurity – but both were written into rock'n'roll history when the anarchistic group covered the Deputy Prime Minister in iced water.

*The spat with Taylor Swift was not Kanye West's first such outburst. In 2006, beaten to an MTV Europe Video Award by Simian, he stormed the stage to argue he should have taken the prize. "If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility," he said.