Earlier in the evening, Swift's magic moment -- as she claimed the Best Female Video prize -- was interrupted and ruined by Kanye West, who stormed the stage to protest the honor and proclaim it belonged to Beyonce. (Scroll down for the clip.)
The shocked "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" singer simply looked on in disbelief as West embarrassed Swift.
But triple winner Beyonce made sure Swift had a moment towards the end of the show when she insisted the country star join her onstage as she accepted the night's big award.
Beyonce said, "I remember being 17 years old, up for my first MTV award with Destiny's Child, and it was one of the most exciting moments in my life, so I'd like for Taylor to come out and have her moment."
Swift strolled onstage to a standing ovation and quipped, "Maybe we could try this again," before making the acceptance speech she would have earlier -- if a rude West had allowed her to finish.
As well as West, show host Russell Brand and GaGa provided the controversy -- comic Brand made lewd references about Katy Perry, GaGa, Beyonce and Swift, and GaGa shocked by pretending to die in a bloody mess onstage at Radio City Music Hall.
Her performance of "Paparazzi," though a talking point, was not the night's live highlight -- that belonged to Beyonce, who took the stage with 30 lookalikes to sing and dance her way through megahit "Single Ladies."
Meanwhile, Pink also stunned with a gymnastic, high-flying show, wearing a pink heart covering the nipple on her exposed left breast, and Beyonce's husband Jay-Z concluded the performances with an Alicia Keys collaboration on New York anthem "Empire State of Mind."
Among the tributes, double winner Eminem dedicated his Best Hip Hop Video trophy to late pal Proof, and house act Wale took a moment to remember Adam 'DJ AM' Goldstein, who was part of the house band last year.
But the VMAs opened and closed with the biggest tribute to Michael Jackson -- Madonna and Janet Jackson honored the King of Pop at the beginning of the show and the first trailer for his This Is It concert-rehearsal movie closed it.
The winners of what will surely be one of the most-talked about MTV Video Music Awards shows ever were:
Breakthrough Video - "Lessons Learned" by Matt & Kim
Best Female Video - "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift
Best Rock Video - "21 Guns" by Green Day
Best Pop Video - "Womanizer" by Britney Spears
Best Male Video - "Live Your Life" by T.I.
Best Hip Hop Video - "We Made You" by Eminem
Best New Artist - Lady GaGa
Video of the Year - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce
Best Art Direction - "Paparazzi" by Lady GaGa
Best Choreography - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce
Best Cinematography - "21 Guns" by Green Day
Best Direction - "21 Guns" by Green Day
Best Editing - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce
Best Special Effects - "Paparazzi" by Lady GaGa
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