Taylor Swift hasn't attended an awards show since 2016 – and she finally made her return tonight at the Billboard Music Awards. She won two trophies for her chart-busting LP Reputation and, in both speeches, had a few words about her conspicuous absence.
"I haven't been to an awards show in a few years," Swift told the crowd when she won Top Female Artist. "And it is so nice to be here tonight." She dedicated this award to the "future female artists who just picked up guitar or learned how to play piano."
Later, the "Delicate" singer – who has granted zero interviews for her record or its accompanying, just-launched tour – earned the award for top selling album.
"I started writing songs because it made me feel more understood," Swift told the crowd. "When I was making reputation, for a while there, I felt really misunderstood by a lot of people. I just want to say to the fans: Thank you for continuing to show up...Thank you for making me feel understood again."
At the ceremony, Swift sat next to her tourmate Camila Cabello, plus Shawn Mendes — they danced the night away, and Twitter enjoyed their friendship.
Swift was a surprise guest at the BBMAs — her place in the audience was reserved for an anonymous "special guest." After all, the singer-songwriter is in the middle of a massive stadium world tour; this weekend, she stopped at the Rose Bowl for a star-studded concert that included Mendes, longtime bestie Selena Gomez, and Troye Sivan. She's set to continue her stadium tour (with openers Camila Cabello and Charli XCX) this week.
This marks the superstar's first awards show appearance since 2016, when, among other things, Kim Kardashian released incriminating audio footage of Swift (speaking with Kanye West) on Snapchat. Mired in other feuds and a tabloid obsession with her love life, Swift kept a low profile until last August, when she deleted everything off her Instagram and started from scratch. She released lead single "Look What You Made Me Do" (which addressed her on-and-off-and-on feud with West) days later. The defiant, pensive reputation dropped in November, and Swift launched her stadium tour this month. Before accepting her award for top-selling album, the BBMAs played a video tribute to reputation and its gi-normous commercial success.
Watch her full speech, below.