Justin Timberlake top dog at MTV's VMAs
For this year's MTV Video Music Awards, the cable outlet reportedly tried to shake its declining viewership by concentrating on live performances (namely one Britney Spears), cutting the showtime to from three to two hours and moving the ceremony to Sin City.
Unfortunately, the first third of the plan was less than compelling. Spears, despite media reports to the contrary, didn't look half bad. However, she seemed to have lost the fine art of lip-synching and the thrill of dance during the debut of her single "Gimme More." No thanks.
Comedian Sarah Silverman, who hosted the ceremony, offered a toned-down yet still vulgar act, compared to the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. After dissing Paris Hilton at the movie awards, she only had relatively kind words for Hilton, but slammed Spears. "She is 25 years old and she's already accomplished everything she's going to accomplish in her life," she said about Spears. "It's mind-blowing."
On the awards front--after all, isn't that what this is all about?-- Justin Timberlake was the big winner. R&B star Robin Thicke and actress/singer Jennifer Hudson awarded Timberlake the Quadruple Threat of the Year, to which he responded, as he jumped around foolishly, "I want to challenge MTV right now to play more videos."
He also took home prizes for Male Artist of the Year, Best Director (Samuel Bayer for "What Goes Around … Comes Around") and Best Choreography in a Video (Marty Kudelka for "Sexy Back"). The Quadruple Threat of the Year honored Timberlake for "conquering multiple worlds including music, fashion, acting, dancing and more," according to an MTV news release.
During his toned-down acceptance speech for Male Artist of the Year, Timberlake invited Timbaland--who produced Timberlake's current album, "Future Love/Sex Sounds"--on stage.
"By me being the maestro, I have to give you this award homeboy," Timbaland told Timberlake. "You are No. 1."
Rihanna won the inaugural Monster Single of the Year award for her addictive "Umbrella," beating out Avril Lavigne ("Girlfriend"); Fall Out Boy ("Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"); T-Pain featuring Yung Joc ("Buy You a Drink"); MIMS ("This is Why I'm Hot"); Daughtry ("Home"); Lil' Mama ("Lip Gloss"); Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson, D.O.E. and Sebastian ("The Way I Are"); Plain White T's ("Hey There Delilah"); and Shop Boyz ("Party Like a Rock Star").
"MTV, thank you very much," Rihanna said during her acceptance speech. "You've been very, very supportive of my career since day one."
She also won Video of the Year for "Umbrella," presented to her by special, unannounced guest, a sweater-wearing, demurely dressed Dr. Dre.
The Earth-Shattering Collaboration award went to booty shakers Shakira and Beyonce, and was presented by West and 50 Cent, the latter of whom has said he will quit music if West's forthcoming album sold more albums than 50's upcoming set. (He has since backed off that promise.)
Fall Out Boy were the winners of Best Group, besting White Stripes, Gym Class Heroes (who won Best New Artist), Linkin Park and Maroon 5.
Holding a "3-Peat" sign, Fall Out Boy bassist Wentz gave a heartfelt speech. He acknowledged that most people watch award shows to watch the trainwrecks. "But we want to thank people who are real fans of music out there. Kids who are picking up guitars."
The most disappointing moments were the snippets of performances in private suites by, among others, West, Timberlake and Timbaland, the Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy. West and Timberlake were shown in bits, and Wentz "reported" from his Friends or Enemies party, but his words were inaudible. The Foo Fighters--with Pat Smear in tow--were shown playing their new single at length during one of the only chances viewers were given to really get a grasp on a performance.
Back on stage, joined by house band DJ Mark Ronson and a horn section, Senegalese performer Akon sang a knock-up--yet shortened--rendition of "Smack That," without collaborator Eminem.
Some artists were able to show more of their chops. Chris Brown, a kid himself, was accompanied by child dancers for lip-synched versions of "Wall to Wall" and "Kiss Me." He emulated his idol Michael Jackson so closely that he even danced to a portion of Jackson's "Billie Jean." In the middle of Brown's set, Rihanna served up a dramatic, sexy excerpt of "Umbrella"; she later returned to perform her latest single, "Shut Up and Drive," as a rousing duet with Fall Out Boy. Linkin Park, introduced by Timbaland, was the true star of the show, however, with a powerful version of "Bleed It Out."
The show wrapped up with a paltry medley by Timbaland, a newly blonde Nelly Furtado, Timberlake and others.
The real drama apparently happened off stage: according to the Associated Press and remarks throughout the show, Kid Rock and Tommy Lee, both of whom were once married to Pamela Anderson, duked it out. And West, apparently unhappy about losing every award for which he was nominated, blew off some steam while waiting for an elevator--in front of media.
Video of the Year
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
Male Artist of the Year
Female Artist of the Year
Best New Artist
Gym Class Heroes
Fall Out Boy
Quadruple Threat of the Year
Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration
Beyonce and Shakira
Monster Single of the Year
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around … Comes Around"
Best Editing in a Video
Ken Mowe for Gnarls Barkley's "Smiley Faces"
Best Choreography in a Video
Marty Kuldeka for Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland's "Sexy Back"