Madonna biggest winner at surprisingly staid MTV awards
Web posted on: Friday, September 11, 1998 12:18:54 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Madonna was the top winner at Thursday night's 15th Annual MTV Video Music Awards, picking up six of the nine categories for which her work was nominated during a ceremony that was uncharacteristically staid for the historically raunchy, outspoken happening.
Madonna's latest album, "Ray of Light," is her best selling in years; she has been riding a critical wave with the album as well. While her video for the title track from that album won most of her awards, including Video of the Year, her first single from "Ray of Light," "Frozen," won the special effects category.
During her acceptance speeches, she repeatedly thanked her fans, MTV, and Jonas Akerlund, the director of her videos.
Meanwhile, alternative rock band Garbage, the second most-nominated band with eight nods, failed to win a single category.
A more mature MTV?
Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Australian chanteuse Natalie Imbruglia were among those earning censors' bleeps for racy language during speeches or performances.
Yet aside from some revealing clothing, a few bleeped words and one obscene gesture, the MTV ceremony known for juvenile antics seemed to reach early adulthood at last.
Several artists injected serious topics into the ceremony at the Universal Amphitheatre, including rock/rap trio the Beastie Boys. As the group accepted a lifetime achievement award, Adam Yauch launched into a tirade about racism in the United States, and condemned Americans for not understanding Muslims.
Yauch was apparently referring to recent U.S. missile attacks in the Sudan and Afghanistan in response to the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
And Wyclef Jean, accepting the R&B video award for "Gone Till November," attacked the movie "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" for a line in which a character says that Haitians have a history of AIDS.
Jean, who contributed a song to the soundtrack for the movie, told the audience, "I was saddened and offended to see my country used as a brunt of an AIDS joke in the movie. AIDS is a crisis and not a ... comedy."
Prodigy, whose video was also directed by the Swedish Akerlund, won the best dance and breakthrough awards for "Smack My Bitch Up," a song that MTV played in late-night rotation with a disclaimer because of the potentially offensive nature of the lyrics.
Will Smith won the first televised award, for best male video, for "Just the Two of Us," a song that deals with a father's heartfelt advice to his son.
"It's really just a song about the other side of divorce," the rapper said as he held his young son in his arms. "So I really want to thank my wife and, actually, I want to thank my ex-wife for both of them being mature enough to make the situation turn out on the positive, happy side."
He also won the award for best rap video with "Gettin' Jiggy With It."
Aerosmith won the awards for video from a film ("I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from "Armageddon") and rock video ("Pink"). In picking up the latter award, vocalist Steven Tyler thanked "a higher power that always reminds us we are spiritual beings in human bodies."
Puff Daddy won the Viewers' Choice award. Imbruglia won the best new artist award for "Torn." Green Day won the best alternative music video award for the ballad "Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)." Teen heroes the Backstreet Boys won the best group video for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)."
With the exception of the Viewers' Choice and Video Vanguard awards, the winners were chosen by vote by industry professionals.
Ben Stiller, the star of the current box office topper "There's Something About Mary," was the evening's host. The ceremony returned to Los Angeles after four years at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Live performances included Hole, performing from their new album "Celebrity Skin," Madonna, and Backstreet Boys. The Brian Setzer Orchestra rounded out the evening with their popular cover of Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive 'n' Wail."
A special awards edition of the clay-animated "Celebrity Death Match" was also a part of the show, with Celine Dion gamely using head butts to beat off competitors -- including eventual category winner Puff Daddy, among multiple nominees for the collaborative work "It's All About the Benjamins" -- once her Claymation arms had been ripped off.
And perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came when the artist formerly known as Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, made her first public appearance since leaving the Spice Girls behind. Halliwell was on hand to present the Video of the Year award to Madonna, whom Halliwell described as her "idol."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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