Fans of both glam-ghoul Marilyn Manson and rocker Courtney Love will get a live preview of new material from both performers during the 15th annual MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday (Sept. 10).
The ceremony (8 p.m. EDT), to be held at the Universal Amphitheatre near Los Angeles, will feature live performances from shock-rocker Manson and Love's post-grunge band Hole, as well as from punk-rappers the Beastie Boys, dance-pop diva Madonna (featuring Lenny Kravitz on guitar), rapper Master P, jam-rockers the Dave Matthews Band, boy pop-group the Backstreet Boys, Fugees members Pras and Wyclef Jean with Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard and Mya, R&B singers Brandy and Monica as well as the swinging Brian Setzer Orchestra.
"Hole's gonna rock," predicted band spokeswoman Gayle Fine, who said the group, with temporary replacement drummer Samantha Maloney (Shift), had a ripping rehearsal of the album's title track on Tuesday night. "They didn't seem nervous at all."
The gig is the first live U.S. stage appearance by the group since the release Tuesday of their long-awaited new album, Celebrity Skin. The awards ceremony will be hosted by "There's Something About Mary" film star Ben Stiller, who has appeared with both Manson and Madonna in promotions for the awards ceremony on the music-television channel.
Manson, whose new album, Mechanical Animals, will be released next Tuesday, will also be performing their new material live for the first time in the U.S. at the awards show. Manson are scheduled to perform the first single from Animals, "The Dope Show."
The shock-rocker, who memorably closed last year's VMA with a fitful, barely clothed performance of his signature song "The Beautiful People," told MTV earlier this week that he "couldn't have dreamed" of anything better than a Video Music Awards debut of "The Dope Show." "It couldn't be any more appropriate," Manson quipped.
Fittingly, Manson's glammy new single features the lines, "The drugs they say make us feel so hollow/ We love in vain narcissistic and so shallow/ The cops and queers to swim you have to swallow ... They love you when you're on all the covers/ When you're not then they love another."
In keeping with a history of introducing the various awards categories with collage-like clips of unrelated and ironic material, this year's clip montages were compiled by multimedia performance group the Emergency Broadcast System. The group, best known for their quick-edit work on U2's media-drenched "ZooTV" tour, did their best to subvert their new corporate partners, according to co-founder Gardner Post.
"The whole evening starts off with a test tone," Post said. "It says 'This is a test of the Emergency Music Broadcast Network.' It looks so much like our work that, in a lot of ways, it's ironic, because we've always dreamt of being able to function like a real network, like a remix channel, and now we're getting the MTV stamp of approval."
Post said the video and music collective didn't try to give their clips for such awards as Best Group Video or Best Direction any theme, other than to make everything "really f---ed up." Viewers can expect lots of fake technical difficulties and channel changing, subliminal bursts of music videos and a seamless mixing of such old-school rappers as Rob Base with such leaders of the new school as Busta Rhymes. "We went for the DJ remix style for some packages," Post said. "And others, like Best Soundtrack, have a 16 mm film-projector feel where you see the sprockets and hear projector sounds."
Others highlights Post pointed to were a video-morphing of a young Michael Jackson into Madonna, classic R&B group the O'Jays mixed into Usher and the requisite EBN use of stock footage of a sitting president, in this case Bill Clinton, who closes the show. Post also predicted some bizarre, even awkward moments where video clips get caught in annoying loops and footage skips in ways that would "make high-end video editors horrified."
Canadian pop band the Barenaked Ladies and R&B crooner Usher will perform during the pre-show "Opening Act" segment and presenters will include musicians Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad, Hanson, Mase, Maxwell, Chuck D. and Puff Daddy, actors Val Kilmer and Jackie Chan and the new single-season home-run king, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.
Among the performances one of the show's producers said would wow audiences is the big production number planned by suddenly hot former Stray Cats leader Brian Setzer.
"I think the big surprise will be the Brian Setzer Orchestra," said Salli Frattini, the event's executive producer. "There's the full orchestra, dancers onstage ... I hope he gets the entire house up and swing-dancing."
Frattini also praised the clean-cut Backstreet Boys for their excellent choreography and promised that, as usual, Madonna would have some surprises in store. The dance-pop queen cemented her reputation as a video groundbreaker this year with nine nominations for her videos for the songs "Ray of Light" and "Frozen" (RealAudio excerpt) from her latest album, Ray of Light. The nine matched Madonna's 1990 total for her Vogue album.
Following close behind were techno-rockers Garbage, who grabbed eight nominations for their quirky video for "Push It" (RealAudio excerpt), including Best Group Video, Best Alternative Music Video, Best Direction and Best Special Effects.
And though they are not performing or presenting at the awards, Garbage are happy simply to be in the audience, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker said. "We're just going to go and try to get free drinks," he joked.
Also garnering multiple nominations was rapper/actor Will Smith, who received six for his "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" video. First-time nominees this year include Aphex Twin, Death in Vegas and Roni Size, as well as Sean Lennon, solo singer and son of late Beatles leader John Lennon.
Up for Best Video of the Year are teenage R&B singers Brandy and Monica ("The Boy is Mine"), Madonna ("Ray of Light"), Puff Daddy and the Family ("It's All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)"), Will Smith ("Gettin' Jiggy Wit It") and The Verve ("Bitter Sweet Symphony").