With nine nominations going into the 2001 Video Music Awards, Fatboy Slim was favored to take home the lion’s share of Moonmen, and he didn’t disappoint anyone betting on the favorite. Although the U.K. dance master racked up six wins for his Spike Jonze-helmed “Weapon of Choice,” including Best Direction in a Video and Breakthrough Video, the sexy sirens of “Lady Marmalade” took the night’s top prize.
But ’NSYNC may have made the biggest impact, grabbing four awards, all of them during the televised portion of the ceremony, and helping Michael Jackson make his long-awaited return to the stage (see “King Of Dirty Pop? Michael Jackson Joins ’NSYNC At VMAs” ).
Fatboy Slim and Spike Jonze — who cleaned up at the 1999 VMAs with their “Praise You” clip — walked away from Thursday night’s ceremony at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House also holding statuettes for Best Dance Video, Best Choreography in a Video, Best Art Direction in a Video and Best Cinematography in a Video (Check out photos of the night’s highlights). For the night’s big winner, Fatboy Slim was strangely camera shy. All but the award for Best Direction in a Video were doled out before the televised portion of the show began, and even when the artist also known as Norman Cook did make it to the stage, it was Spike Jonze to whom the award was actually presented, with Cook and the video’s dancing star, Christopher Walken, supporting the director from the side of the podium.
Despite all the early wins, the oddly humorous clip was overlooked for Video of the Year honors, as the night’s most coveted prize went instead to Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya for their “Lady Marmalade” clip. The “Moulin Rouge”-inspired video also scored Best Video From a Film honors.
The VMAs aren’t only about the final scorecard, however. While it’s certainly an accomplishment to walk away with the most trophies, it’s the memorable moments that truly land one in the annals of VMA history.
Host Jamie Foxx opened the show with a pseudo-operatic medley lampooning the sophisticated surroundings of the Metropolitan Opera House. It included soaring renditions of Britney Spears’ “Oops! … I Did It Again” and Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” among others. Riffing off last year’s unexpected display by Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford, “Saturday Night Live”’s Will Ferrell climbed the stage scaffolding while audibly wondering why bands like O-Town and Mike + the Mechanics weren’t among the night’s nominees.
P. Diddy and Ben Stiller updated their exchange from the rapper’s “Bad Boy for Life” video, only this time Stiller accused Puffy of hurling a bowling ball through his bedroom window while he was “making a deposit in the First National Bank of Booty.”
Perhaps the biggest splash was made by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog puppet from “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” who propositioned Jennifer Lopez by asking to sniff her butt moments after suggesting that “TRL” host Carson Daly was “hung like a Great Dane.”
’NSYNC’s “Pop” took home four Moonmen, including Viewer’s Choice and Best Pop Video. After dispensing the usual thank-you’s to family, label execs, and “Pop” director Wayne Isham, Justin Timberlake was modest at the podium when accepting his accolades. “I think Fatboy Slim was robbed, honestly,” he said while accepting the award for Best Dance Video, and “U2 was robbed this time” after receiving the statuette for Best Group Video.
Besides Fatboy Slim, ’NSYNC and the “Lady Marmalade” ladies, Gwen Stefani was the only other artist to receive multiple wins. Strangely enough, the No Doubt frontwoman took home Moonmen for both the Best Male Video and the Best Female Video for her guest spots with Moby (“South Side”) and Eve (“Let Me Blow Ya Mind”).
The 18th annual VMAs were also marked by two tributes to artists no longer with us. A memorial to 22-year-old singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash August 25, in the first quarter of the show brought an air of heartfelt remembrance to an otherwise fun-filled and free-spirited event (see “Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, Others Honor Aaliyah During VMAs” ). Though the official homage was contained to that brief segment, Aaliyah’s memory was kept aloft throughout the show. City High and Eve offered a shout-out to her during their pre-show performance of “What Would You Do?” and Usher wore an Aaliyah T-shirt while he and Estella Warren presented Destiny’s Child with the award for Best R&B Video for “Survivor.” After Missy Elliott and Nelly Furtado’s live rendition of “Get Ur Freak On,” Miss E dedicated the performance to “the loving memory of Aaliyah, rest in peace.”
Joey Ramone, frontman for New York punk pioneers the Ramones, who died in April, was also remembered for his musical contributions. Following U2’s acceptance of the Video Vanguard Award, the band introduced the surviving members of the Ramones after a brief eulogy by Bono.
“New York City has given us a lot of things, but the best thing it ever gave us was a punk rock group called the Ramones, without whom a lot of people would never have gotten started, certainly us,” the frontman said. “They lost Joey Ramone, and I would like to give an award to the remaining Ramones, who are going to appear in a very un-punk-rock situation right now.”
The night’s single-statuette winners included Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” (Best Hip-Hop Video), Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’ ” (Best New Artist in a Video), Mudvayne’s “Dig” (the inaugural MTV2 Award), Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” (Best Rap Video), Robbie Williams’ “Rock DJ” (Best Special Effects in a Video) and Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin'” (Best Rock Video).
Those nominees who struck out completely kept good company. Missy Elliott hurled the biggest goose-egg; her “Get Ur Freak On” came up empty in six categories, including Video of the Year and Best Hip-Hop Video. Miss E wasn’t all frowns, however, as she had a hand in the success of “Lady Marmalade.”
Although they won the Video Vanguard Award, U2 swung and missed five times for Best Video of the Year (“Beautiful Day”) and Best Group Video, Best Video From a Film, Best Special Effects in a Video and Best Editing in a Video (“Elevation [Tomb Raider Mix]”).
Eminem couldn’t hit the mark with his five nominations for “Stan,” nor could Janet Jackson with her four nods for “All for You” or Aerosmith with their three for “Jaded.”
While Britney Spears made a big splash with the live debut of her new single, “I’m a Slave 4 U,” she failed to cash in on her one nomination, meaning that the pop star has yet to win a VMA.
Catch all the sizzlin’, star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News’ preshow kicks things off at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, followed by big show at 8 p.m.
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