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MTV makes 20-year trip to awards show
NEW YORK -- Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera gave a writhing tribute to Madonna on Thursday night as MTV presented its 20th annual Video Music Awards by reaching into its past.
Dressed in the same kind of white bustier wedding dress that Madonna wore while performing "Like a Virgin" during 1984's inaugural show, Spears and Aguilera gyrated on stage while singing a cover of the not-so-innocent tune. Then, while Madonna sang her new song "Hollywood" in an all-black outfit, she shared an open-mouthed kiss with both Aguilera and Spears -- proving the former teen stars have come a long way since their Mouseketeer days.
Typically, MTV's annual celebration of music videos takes a back seat to wacky antics, barely there outfits and eye-popping performances.
That hadn't changed Thursday night. There were no big winners -- Missy Elliott's "Work It" won video of the year, while Justin Timberlake, Coldplay and Beyonce Knowles had three apiece.
As usual, the most memorable moments had nothing to do with the moonmen trophies.
Besides Madonna, Spears and Aguilera's bump-and-grind performance, there was 50 Cent's pimp-a-licous performance of "P.I.M.P.," during which he was joined onstage Snoop Dogg, the ubiquitous former pimp Bishop Don Magic Juan, members of his G-Unit posse -- and a bevy of half-naked women.
"Today is the anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech -- isn't it nice to see that his dream has finally come true?" cracked host Chris Rock after their performance.
Eminem, who won one moonman for best video from a film for "Lose Yourself," poked fun at himself and his verbal tussle with a smart-mouthed puppet at last year's awards show.
"I got into this little anger management program ... and today I stand before you a changed man," said Eminem, as he emerged with a puppet named Ed from the off-color, off-Broadway musical, "Avenue Q."
"Working with Ed has taught me that puppets, just like people, have feelings too," Eminem said gently -- before attacking the puppet for being too talkative.
Remembering JackoAnd Fred Durst and Jack Black poked fun at last year's embarrassing moment, when Michael Jackson thought a birthday trophy presented to him was an "Artist of the Millennium" award.
"If someone had told me, when I was a kid, that I was going to win the super-genius of the century award, I would have never of believed it," gushed Black, wearing a Jacko-esque outfit complete with metallic shin guards.
However, the evening had a potential to be poignant. "Hurt," a haunting video by 71-year-old Johnny Cash, was nominated for six VMA awards and threatened to upstage all the craziness at the Radio City Music Hall extravaganza.
Although Cash had hoped to attend, he was hospitalized with a stomach ailment.
Cash's video, nominated for video of the year, best male video and best direction, among others, was hardly a staple on MTV over the past year. His cover of the Nine Inch Nails song wasn't played very much, and most die-hard MTV watchers may not recall even seeing it. But it resonated with those who vote on the nominations, including music executives, video directors and journalists.
More people were familiar with Missy Elliott's "Work It," the most-nominated video, which had eight nods and got two awards. The music clip was loaded with special effects, dancing and surreal images. It won the evening's first award, for best hip-hop video, which Elliott picked up after participating in the Madonna tribute.
Knowles' sexy video "Crazy in Love," featuring her boyfriend Jay-Z, won three awards. Knowles gave a showstopping, hip-shaking performance with dozens of dancers, garnering a standing ovation from the crowd.
Nominated for seven awards was Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" video, which takes a not-so-subtle dig at ex-girlfriend Spears; the video features Timberlake exacting revenge on a cheating Spears look-alike.
Timberlake won best pop video for "Cry Me a River," and best male video, beating out Cash.
"This is a travesty! I demand a recount," he said, before paying tribute to Cash.
"My grandfather raised me on Johnny Cash," he said, "and I think he deserves this more than any of us in here tonight."
WINNERS AT THE MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS
Viewer's Choice Award: "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," Good Charlotte
Rap Video: "In Da Club," 50 Cent
R&B Video: "Crazy in Love," Beyonce featuring Jay-Z
Hip-Hop Video: "Work It," Missy Elliott
Rock Video: "Somewhere I Belong," Linkin Park
Female Video: "Crazy in Love," Beyonce featuring Jay-Z
Male Video: "Cry Me A River," Justin Timberlake
Pop Video: "Cry Me a River," Justin Timberlake
New Artist in a Video: 50 Cent, "In Da Club"
Group Video: "The Scientist," Coldplay
Dance Video: "Rock Your Body," Justin Timberlake
Video from a Film: "Lose Yourself," Eminem
Breakthrough Video: "The Scientist," Coldplay
Direction: "The Scientist," Coldplay
Choreography: "Crazy in Love," Beyonce featuring Jay-Z
Special Effects: "Go With the Flow," Queens of the Stoneage
Art Direction: "There, There," Radiohead
Cinematography: "Hurt," Johnny Cash