Rapper Eminem walked off with four MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, including one for Video of the Year, in a show bookended by rousing performances by Bruce Springsteen and a rare appearance by heavy metal rockers Guns N’ Roses.
Eminem, who also won awards for Best Male Video, Best Rap Video and Best Direction, said of the “moonman” statuette that was MTV’s symbol in its early days, “I’m taking this home for rap – period.” His video “Without Me” won Video of the Year honors. The rapper won four MTV awards in 1999 and 2000.
The mood at the annual awards show at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall alternated between irreverent and somber. The program opened on a solemn note, with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band playing “The Rising,” the title track to his new hit album inspired by the Sept. 11 tragedy and its aftermath.
In a lighter moment, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani quipped from the stage, “Last year at this time, it’s very possible I’d be ticketing your double-parked cars out there.”
Giuliani thanked musicians for showing the city their support in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and introduced singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, who performed against a backdrop of images from that day.
To kick off the night’s festivities, singer Britney Spears presented Michael Jackson, one of the best-selling pop stars of all time, with a tiered cake for his 44th birthday and called him the “artist of the millennium.”
Jackson, who revolutionized the music industry with videos like “Thriller,” “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean,” appeared to think he had actually won such an award. According to MTV.com, no such award exists.
“When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana if someone told me I’d be getting the artist of the millennium award, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Jackson said.
Jackson was not exempt from the not-too-subtle wit of host and “Saturday Night Live” star Jimmy Fallon, who cracked, “Michael Jackson looks great for 44. Between you and me, I think he’s had some work done,” Fallon joked about Jackson’s ever-evolving appearance.
As singer Pink took the stage to accept the Best Female Video award for “Get The Party Started,” the dance-pop starlet said, “I’m too drunk to do this.”
“I want to thank the fans for sticking with me, for being open-minded and for believing that music is freedom,” said Pink, who also won the Best Dance Video award.
The White Stripes, one-time indie rockers who gained mainstream success over the past year, won three awards, including Breakthrough Video award for “Fell In Love With A Girl,” a video featuring animation of Lego children’s toys.
Punk-ska band No Doubt took home two awards for Best Pop Video and Best Group Video for “Hey Baby,” featuring reggae act Bounty Killer.
The Best New Artist award went to 17-year-old Avril Lavigne for her winsome pop-rock hit “Complicated.”
Newcomer Michelle Branch won the Viewers Choice award for her single “Everywhere,” which was selected by viewers via the Internet.
Other winners included Jennifer Lopez, who won Best Hip Hop Video for “I’m Real”; Mary J. Blige, who won Best Rhythm & Blues Video for “No More Drama”; and Linkin Park who won Best Rock Video for “In The End.”
The two surviving members of TLC, the best selling female group of all time, received a standing ovation as they took the stage for a tearful tribute to group member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died in a car accident earlier this year.
Carson Daly, host of MTV’s hit show “Total Request Live” announced the creation of $25,000 scholarship in memory of Lopes, who would wear a condom over her left eye to promote safe sex. The scholarships will be awarded to students committed to fighting AIDS.
Punk rock band the Vines gave one of the evening’s more memorable performances, smashing their instruments at the end of their performance, while NSync’s Justin Timberlake made his debut as a solo artist.
Guns N’ Roses closed out the show with a medley that included their hits “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Paradise City.” The band, whose only original member is lead singer Axl Rose, has spent several years out of the public eye working on a new album.