Taylor Swift accepted the award for Artist of the Decade at Sunday night's American Music Awards, capping off a year filled with hits by delivering a powerful speech to the star-studded crowd.
Swift, 29, was handed the high honor by living legend Carole King, 77, about whom Swift gushed, "I cannot believe that it’s Carole King who gave me this award. My parents are here tonight. They would listen to 'Tapestry' and all your other records when they were in high school, and then they took those records, packed them in boxes and took them to college with them."
Having sung a dazzling medley of "The Man," "Love Story," "I Knew You Were Trouble," "Blank Space," "Shake It Off" (featuring Camila Cabello and Halsey), and "Lover," Swift spoke inspirationally about why she works, saying, "All any of the artists, or really anyone in this room wants, is to create something that will last. Whatever it is in life. And the fact that this is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and of art and of fun and memories, all that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with you the fans over the years."
Her status as Artist of the Decade was seemingly solidified when she surpassed Michael Jackson for the most AMA wins overall.
Swift's triumphant night follows weeks of drama between herself and Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta. Swift had publicly decried Braun's purchase of her entire back catalogue through the album before her current release, "Lover."
"I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show," she had posted on Tumblr. "Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year."
The dispute was resolved when BMLG pointed out that artists don't need permission for live performances, but she never backed down from her contention that Braun and Borchetta wanted her to "be a good little girl and shut up. Or you'll be punished."
BMLG, her former label, pushed back against Swift's assertions, saying in a statement, "As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information. At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special.In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere. Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate."
For his part, Braun claimed Swift's public airing of their disagreement had endangered himself and his family, writing, "While some on your team and many of our mutual friends have tried to get you to the table, all have had no luck. It almost feels as if you have no interest in ever resolving the conflict. At this point with safety becoming a concern I have no choice other than to publicly ask for us to come together and try to find a resolution. I have tried repeatedly through your representatives to achieve a solution but unfortunately, here we are. The game of telephone isn’t working."
"I will make myself available whenever works for you," he went on. "Many have told me that a meeting will never happen as this is not about the truth or resolution but instead a narrative for you. I am hopeful that is not the case. I’m right here, ready to speak directly and respectfully. But if you would prefer to make large public statements while refusing to work towards resolving things amicably then I just pray that nobody gets seriously hurt in the process. I continue to wish you the best and hope we can resolve this."