NEW YORK -- Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video was the big winner at Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards, winning six of the nine awards for which it was nominated, but it was the sexy video "Lady Marmalade" that took home the year's top trophy.
"Lady Marmalade," the "Moulin Rouge"-inspired video, was a collaboration featuring Pink, Christina Aguilera, Mya and Lil' Kim. It also received an award for best video from a film.
The night's other big winner was 'N Sync, who received four awards for their special-effects laden video, "Pop," including the viewer's choice award.
The "Weapon of Choice" clip by Fatboy Slim, a DJ, doesn't even feature the artist; its star is actor Christopher Walken, dancing around an empty hotel lobby. Among the early awards it nabbed was for best direction, for Spike Jonze, and best choreography.
As always, however, the awards themselves tend to be an afterthought, upstaged by the evening over-the-top moments. Thursday was no exception, as 'N Sync capped off a colorful rendition of "Pop" with the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Jackson gyrated for only a few seconds to 'N Sync's hit, but received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Another anticipated moment was Spears' performance of her new song, "I'm A Slave For You," which featured the singer slithering on stage with a snake and other animals.
Mudvayne won the MTV2 award spotlighting emerging artists, but it was hard to concentrate on the heavy metal group's acceptance speech: They appeared at the podium in gory makeup that made them look as if they had been shot in the forehead, with fake blood oozing down their face and chest.
And Macy Gray upstaged the announcement of the award for best new artist as she urged everyone "to take a minute and concentrate on my dress," which read: "My new album drops Sept. 18, 2001."
The night was not without its glitches: As U2 was about to perform "Elevation," a technical problem forced MTV to cut to commercials until it was fixed.
"So MTV weren't paying their electricity bill," quipped Bono before the group received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award for lifetime achievement.
Collaborating with No Doubt's Gwen Stefani proved to be good move for Moby and Eve; the DJ won best male video for his "South Side" video featuring Stefani, and Eve won best female video for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," also with Stefani.
Comedian-host Jamie Foxx got the evening off to a somewhat raunchy start. After parodying the evening's setting at the Metropolitan Opera House with opera renditions of hits like "Bootylicious," he launched into a monologue that had to be bleeped by MTV censors.
Foxx had previously said he would not lampoon celebrities during the show, but apparently had a change of heart, joking about Mariah Carey's recent nervous breakdown and Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean's battle with alcohol abuse.
The Backstreet Boys gave out the evening's first award, for best hip-hop video. Before OutKast picked up their trophy, McLean thanked MTV and fans for supporting him during his recent stint in rehab.
"Today is 64 days sober, and I'm proud of it," he said to applause.
As the group made its way off the stage, Foxx held out a bottle to them. "You want some champagne, some champagne?," he joked before the stunned crowd. "It's apple cider, apple cider! You can drink apple cider, can't you?"
Moments later, however, the mood turned somber with a tribute to Aaliyah, who was killed Aug. 25 in a plane crash. Janet Jackson, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Ginuwine and Timbaland joined Aaliyah's brother, Rashad Haughton, in remembering the 22-year-old singer and actress, who was to be a presenter Thursday evening.
"I think what we've got to learn out of this to appreciate each other while we're here on earth," said Elliott, who wore a white jacket with Aaliyah's image on the back and her name on the side. "I love you Aaliyah, and you're forever missed."
Bono also paid tribute to Joey Ramone, who died earlier this year of lymphoma, as he introduced the remaining members of the legendary punk rock group the Ramones to the audience.
Among the evening's performers was Jennifer Lopez, who sang her latest hit "I'm Real" with rapper Ja Rule during the show; Linkin Park; U2; Jay-Z and Elliott, who dedicated her performance to Aaliyah.
The awards ceremony were aired live on MTV.
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