LOS ANGELES — Remember way back when Britney Spears made a surprise appearance at the Teen Choice Awards to introduce husband Kevin Federline?
Well, three months later, the mother of two popped up unannounced at another awards show Tuesday, only the Kevin Federline that appeared on the American Music Awards stage just before she did wasn't really K-Fed — and he was locked in a crate and dumped in the ocean (as part of a rather hilarious skit).
Oh, how quickly things change.
Gwen Stefani knows this, which is why just a year after winning Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist for her debut solo album, she took the Shrine Auditorium to debut the yodel fest "Wind It Up," the first single from her next album.
Fall Out Boy also debuted a new single at the ceremony, which featured almost as many performances (18) as awards (21 — although several of those trophies were not actually awarded as part of the show).
Yes, the AMAs do hand out awards, although with so many no-show nominees in recent years (see "Will Smith Beats 50 Cent, Kelly Rowland Flies Solo At American Music Awards"), they don't seem so important.
At least this year, two of the biggest winners had the courtesy to appear via satellite.
The Black Eyed Peas ("Or as the guy who played Kramer on 'Seinfeld' calls them, the Afro-American Eyed Peas," AMAs host Jimmy Kimmel joked) went three for three, collecting their prizes for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop and Soul/R&B Group and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Monkey Business from Costa Rica.
And the Red Hot Chili Peppers filmed their acceptance of Favorite Alternative Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Band from London, making fun of the situation by timing each other's speeches.
Kelly Clarkson also won two awards (Favorite Pop/Rock Female and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist) but was nowhere in sight, nor were Eminem (Favorite Male Rap/Hip-Hop Artist) or Shakira (Favorite Latin Artist).
Mary J. Blige, who took Favorite Soul/R&B Album for The Breakthrough, as well as Favorite Female Soul/R&B Artist, was actually in attendance — as were Jamie Foxx (Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist), Nickelback (Favorite Pop/Rock Album) and Sean Paul, who beat out Nick Lachey and Kanye West for Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist.
"I was kind of looking out," Paul joked backstage, referring to West rushing the stage recently after he lost Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards. "If Nick had won and Kanye had gone up there, I would have gone up with him!"
For the third year in a row, a country act won Favorite Breakthrough Artist, as Carrie Underwood beat out the Pussycat Dolls and Chamillionaire, who said he was wearing a suit for the first time in his life.
Beyoncé kicked off the show with a salty rendition of "Irreplaceable," followed by an opening monologue from Kimmel that berated Federline, who he called "the world's first no-hit wonder." ("At least Vanilla Ice had a hit.")
Beyoncé got plenty more camera time later as she danced in the front row during boyfriend Jay-Z's performance of "Show Me What You Got."
And while the Pussycat Dolls had the auditorium bumping for "Buttons," the Dolls themselves got busy to Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race."
"That was kind of awesome," bassist Pete Wentz said backstage afterward. "They were the deer, we were the headlights."
John Mayer ("Waiting for the World to Change"), Snow Patrol ("Chasing Cars") and Nelly Furtado ("All Good Things (Come To An End)") went for emotion over commotion, but Snoop Dogg and Akon delivered plenty of the latter in a show-ending medley complete with stripper poles and raining dollar bills.
"The people were standing up and screaming and dancing," Snoop said backstage. "So I had a good time doing what I do."
Snoop and Akon's rendition of "I Wanna Love You" was surprisingly the show's only collaboration, but by the looks of things on the red carpet beforehand, there were plenty of pairings in the making.
Meat Loaf was introduced to actor/ sometime lounge singer William Shatner, "Weird Al" Yankovic met two of the guys he parodies on his latest album (Taylor Hicks and Chamillionaire), and the Game got friendly with ... Ryan Seacrest.
"He's like the funniest guy on television," the rapper said.
So maybe an "American Idol" appearance is looming?
"Maybe not," he quickly replied.