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MTV awards: A diverse, odd night

By Jamie Allen

(CNN) -- If MTV is the pulse of the music world, then what, exactly, is the state of this world, judging by the vital signs shown at the network's 2001 Video Music Awards on Thursday night?

In the last few minutes of the show, Britney Spears was more reminiscent of Milli Vanilli than her hero, Madonna, as she lip-synced her way through her new song, "I'm A Slave 4 U." And to close the night, the best music video award went to a cover version -- a cover! -- of the Patti LaBelle tune "Lady Marmalade," performed by modern-day divas Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya and Lil' Kim.

Is this the state of modern music -- bad lip-syncing and cover songs?

Maybe the pulse is stronger than it first appears. This year's VMAs were perhaps the most diverse in recent memory -- a collection of old and new, black and white, hip-hop and rock.

Among the highlights:

- Comedian-host Jamie Foxx started off the evening with operatic renditions of hits such as "Bootylicious."

Complete list of winners  
Photo gallery: MTV Video Music Awards  
RESOURCES At the MTV awards Party-hopping at the MTV awards

- White actor Ben Stiller made fun of rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to his face, and Diddy played along pretty well.

- Kid Rock, looking like a crushed pack of cigarettes, introduced a dapper Mick Jagger, who went on to speak like a Vegas comedian.

- Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean, on stage with band mates to hand out best hip-hop video, touched on his recent stay in rehab, proudly declaring he is "64 days sober."

- Michael Jackson made a surprise appearance at the end of *NSYNC's performance of "Pop," dancing for a few seconds like only he can, and bringing the crowd to its collective feet.

It was a love fest all-round, color-blind and all-encompassing. No less than Bono, lead singer for U2, declared that all the genres "rubbing shoulders" was a great thing.

The awards, please

And then there were the awards.

In front of a packed audience at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, *NSYNC showed that boy bands still have relevance. The quintet took four awards, including best group video; best pop video; best dance video; and the coveted viewers' choice -- all for "Pop."

Moby accepts Best Male Video for
Moby accepts Best Male Video for "South Side"  

Fatboy Slim's video "Weapon of Choice," directed by Spike Jonze and featuring Christopher Walken, took the most awards -- six: best direction; breakthrough video; choreography; art direction; editing; and cinematography.

Best male video went to Moby for "South Side." Best female video went to Eve for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." Both songs featured the vocals of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani.

R&B star Alicia Keys won the best new artist in a video award for her first single, "Fallin'."

Other winners were Nelly's "Ride Wit Me," for rap video; Destiny's Child's "Survivor" for R&B video; Limp Bizkit's "Rollin," which was named best rock video; and Robbie Williams' "Rock DJ," which won for best special effects in a video.

The first-ever MTV2 award, chosen by Internet users, went to Mudvayne, for "Dig." The gents accepted the award wearing green or red spiked mohawks and white dinner jackets splashed with fake blood.

Despite all the originality, "Lady Marmalade" still took the big prize. The cover is featured on the soundtrack of "Moulin Rouge," and the video is a splash of colors and diva dancing, including Aguilera sporting a gigantic blonde wig.

"The big hair paid off!" she joked.

Perhaps the most talked about moment, though, was Jackson's brief appearance. The self-proclaimed king of pop releases a new album, "Invincible," next month, and on Friday was planning to celebrate his 30th year in showbiz Madison Square Garden.

A thriller event, certainly.


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