MTV awards revive Taylor Swift, Kanye West rivalry

Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:51pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West: the rematch.

A year after West earned widespread opprobrium when he stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to grab a statuette from the country starlet's tender hands, the twosome will find themselves in uncomfortably close confines at this year's event in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Both are expected to perform -- separately -- during the all-star ceremony at the Nokia Theater, but an on-screen reunion is another matter. The event kicks off at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT Monday).

West, who largely disappeared from the public gaze after his outburst, reached out to Swift a week ago through a series of Twitter messages. The hip-hop star apologized (yet again), and said he had written a song for Swift which he would perform if she would not take it.

Swift has not replied, publicly at least. Both have new albums due in the fall, within three weeks of each other, so the rivalry will extend to the charts as well.

The fuss began when Swift won the award for female video, a rarity for a country singer. As she was giving her acceptance speech, West bounded up on stage, took away her statuette and declared that it should have gone to Beyonce. Swift stood frozen as the drama played out to a chorus of boos. In the ensuing backlash, even President Obama criticized West.

Paradoxically, neither Swift nor West features highly among the nominees this year. Swift will defend her female video title and West, who has not released an album since 2008, was not nominated at all.

Flanboyant pop star Lady Gaga leads the pack with 13 nominations, including a pair of nods for video of the year. Rapper Eminem, who will open the show, picked up eight nominations. But award presentations at the MTV Awards are often little more than distractions from the performances.

Lady Gaga is likely to set tongues wagging with her latest sartorial extravaganzas. Other performers include Mary J. Blige, Drake, Bruno Mars, Linkin Park, Usher, Justin Bieber, Paramore, B.o.B and Florence + The Machine.

MTV, owned by Viacom will probably be the night's big winner. Last year's ceremony drew 9 million viewers, a six percent increase over 2008 and the largest turnout since 2004. The latest installment of the Swift-West soap opera can only be good for business.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Todd Eastham)