It was a virtual shut-out at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool, England, Thursday night. With a handful of exceptions, actual European acts were left to watch from the audience as a parade of American artists took home awards.
Leading the pack was Britney Spears, who followed her VMA victories by scooping up prizes for Best Album for Blackout and Act of 2008, though she did not attend the ceremony at Liverpool’s Echo Arena (she was busy joining Madonna onstage in Los Angeles ). Host Katy Perry also got in on the action, snatching up an award for Best New Act. In keeping with her reputation as a budding fashion icon, the high energy Perry had no less than a dozen costume changes (including an American football uniform) and opened the show by suggestively straddling a giant tube of cherry Chapstick.
The Yankee landslide also included Kanye West winning the Ultimate Urban award, Lil Wayne getting Artists Choice, 30 Seconds to Mars snagging the Rock Out and Best Video Star prizes and Pink’s “So What” being named most Addictive Track. German stars Tokio Hotel finally broke the American domination by taking the Headliner award for best live performance.
In fact, other than Hotel, the only other European honorees were two Liverpool natives, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney — who was bestowed with the Ultimate Legend honor by none other than U2‘s Bono — and the Rickroller himself, ’80s pop sensation Rick Astley. Astley was dubbed Best Act Ever as part of an Internet spam-paign, in which online voters chose him over such contenders as U2, Britney Spears and Green Day.
Like a number of the acts, McCartney took the opportunity during his speech to mention the historic win on Tuesday by President-elect Barack Obama . “So thanks, as I say, to all my family, to all of you for coming along, everyone in Liverpool, everyone in Britain, everyone in America … for voting in Mr. Obama,” he said.
The show featured performances from the Killers, Pink, Take That, Duffy, the Ting Tings and Beyoncé — who hit the stage wearing her steampunk-inspired mechanical glove and a space-age looking mini-dress for a slow, sultry take on “If I Were a Boy.” West also big-upped Obama after his performance of “American Boy” with Estelle by projecting a large image of the nation’s first black president on the screen behind him. It was West’s second appearance at the show, though this time instead of storming the stage as he did in 2006 , he was an invited, and gracious, guest.
30 Seconds singer Jared Leto sported an Obama T-shirt and asked the crowd to stand up in honor of the next U.S. president, and Perry — wearing a yellow dress printed with an image of Obama — quipped that “maybe Europe will love us again now.”