Gaga swept the ceremony, winning two coveted Moon Man trophies before the official telecast even started (best dance video for "Bad Romance" and best collaboration for "Telephone," her epic with Beyonce Knowles), and later picking up statues for best female video, best pop video and video of the year, among others. In total, she hauled home eight awards.
With Statue of Liberty-like crowns and gowns that defied reasonable conceptions of what might constitute a wardrobe -- she accepted the video of the year award wearing a dress made of meat -- Gaga further affirmed her status as the music industry's biggest spectacle. Even Nicki Minaj, the awfully good hip-hop up-and-comer with an out-of-the-box attitude similar to Gaga's, couldn't quite compare.
"Tonight, little monsters, we're the cool kids of the party," Gaga told her fans while accepting the best female video award for "Bad Romance," adding, "Thank you to all the gays for remaking this video over and over again."
Later, Gaga overrode a somewhat dismissive introduction by 64-year-old music icon Cher ("I have shoes older than most of these nominees") while accepting the video of the year award.
"I promised if I won this tonight I'd announce the name of my new record," she said, on the verge of tears. "It's called 'Born This Way.'" Gaga proceeded to belt out, "I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way" to wild applause.
If Gaga was the main event, West's feud with Swift was the side show. The rapper infamously stole the mic from the pop singer at the 2009 VMAs while she was accepting the best female video award.
Host Chelsea Handler called out West in her VMA introduction: "It's time to address the big black elephant in the room -- where's Kanye?" Later, Swift took the stage to sing "Forgiveness," a song seemingly inspired by last year's debacle. Her performance started out with grainy, 1950s-esque clips of West interrupting her acceptance speech. Her lyrics didn't stray far from that incident: "Everybody believed in you ... 32, you're still growing up now ... you're still an innocent." (West was 32-years-old during last year's ceremony.)
West got his turn on the mic at the end of the VMAs. Debuting "Runaway," a song whose chorus included the line "Let's have a toast to the scumbags" and other toasts that cannot be mentioned here, he made it clear that he doesn't care who may or may not hold a grudge against him.
Other memorable moments of the VMAs' two-hour-long telecast included Rihanna surprising viewers by joining Eminem for a performance of "Love the Way You Lie," the men and women of MTV's hit reality series "Jersey Shore" luring host Handler into an on-stage hot tub, and Handler herself taking shots at multiple members of the audience, from teen pop sensation Justin Bieber ("Just imagine how good his music will be when he sees a vagina") to her jacuzzi cohorts ("If you leave Jersey, you host the VMAs; if you stay in Jersey, you host the herpes").
Handler, the star of E!'s late-night comedy show "Chelsea Lately," was the first woman in 16 years to helm the VMAs, following Roseanne Barr's turn as ringleader in 1994.
She hammed it up. Handler bounced onto the VMA stage attempting to do the "Bad Romance" dance with an outrageous, Gaga-like headpiece -- a model house.
She also let Lindsay Lohan make her the butt of a joke. The just-out-of-jail-and-rehab starlet made a cameo at the VMAs in a backstage segment with Handler in which Lohan asked why Handler's alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet went off. Handler's response: she wasn't rocking a SCRAM bracelet, just the waiting-for-a-table buzzer from The Olive Garden.
As always with the VMAs, performances took up a significant amount of airtime. While Bieber and Usher showed off impressive dance routines, the artists who really resonated were those who appeared to be using their real voices, like Drake and Mary J. Blige and Florence And The Machine, rather than lip-synching. Technology is king -- one only needed to count the number of times MTV made mention of VMA-related topics trending on Twitter to realize that. But in music, talent always triumphs.
Below, the full list of winners from the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards:
-- Collaboration: Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce, "Telephone"
-- Female video: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Male video: Eminem, "Not Afraid"
-- Hip-hop video: Eminem, "Not Afraid"
-- New artist: Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris, "Baby"
-- Pop video: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Rock video: 30 Seconds to Mars, "Kings and Queens"
-- Dance music video: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Art direction: Florence and the Machine, "Dog Days Are Over"
-- Choreography: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Cinematography: Jay Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"
-- Direction: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Editing: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
-- Special effects: Muse, "Uprising"
-- Breakthrough video: The Black Keys, "Tighten Up"
-- Video of the year: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
Reporting contributed by The Associated Press.