NEW YORK — In between Ricky Martin’s and Lauryn Hill’s trips to the podium to collect the nine moonmen trophies they won at Thursday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Nine Inch Nails turned in an electrifying first awards-show appearance and superstar rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg reunited onstage.
Another old favorite, Guns n’ Roses, popped up, too. A 15-second clip of the hard-rock band’s first song in six years, the electronica-infused rocker “Oh My God,” showed up in a commercial for the movie “End of Days” that debuted during MTV’s broadcast of the ceremony
(click here to go to SonicNet’s photo gallery of the evening’s festivities).
Martin, the ex-Menudo singer, and Hill, who rose to fame with the Fugees, were the night’s big winners. Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (RealAudio excerpt) was named Video of the Year and nabbed three more trophies, for Best R&B Video, Best Female Video and Best Art Direction.
Martin won in the Best Dance and Best Pop categories for “Livin’ la Vida Loca” (RealAudio excerpt) and three international Viewers’ Choice awards, for both of MTV’s Latin American networks and MTV Russia.
“I’m really happy because there are people who taught me the beauty of the world of pop, like the Beatles, Elvis, Madonna and Michael Jackson,” Martin said backstage after his Best Pop Video win.
Hill’s wins continued her 1999 roll — she also took home five Grammys, four Soul Train awards and, most recently, three Lady of Soul awards for her multiplatinum solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998).
Hill’s erstwhile Fugees partner, Wyclef Jean, said backstage that he has not been able to discuss a possible new Fugees album with her. “I’m waiting for Lauryn to call me back,” he said. “She’s not returning my calls.”
Early in the evening, Nine Inch Nails played a cathartic version of the brooding title track from their upcoming album, The Fragile, as swinging cranes flashed strobe lights over the band.
Frontman Trent Reznor, who wore a sleeveless gray vest, maintained a near-maniacal expression as he sang the song’s chorus, “I won’t let you fall apart.” He was accompanied by jagged, menacing guitars and a string section.
Amid a barrage of superstar performances and bad jokes, Beastie Boys rapper Ad-Rock provided a moment of gravity. Accepting his band’s award for Best Hip-Hop Video for “Intergalactic” (RealAudio excerpt), Ad-Rock (born Adam Horovitz), in light of numerous reports of rapes and other sexual assaults at the Woodstock ’99 festival, called on artists to help ensure the safety of women attending concerts.
“I read in the news and heard from my friends all about sexual assaults and the rapes that went down at Woodstock ’99 in July, and it made me feel really sad and angry,” Ad-Rock said, as the crowd at the Metropolitan Opera House fell silent. He called on fellow musicians to do all they can to protect female concert-goers in the future.
Rapper Kid Rock opened the show with an over-the-top performance that featured cameo appearances by rockers Aerosmith and New York hip-hop legends Run-D.M.C. They teamed with Kid Rock for a version of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” which was also a hit for Run-D.M.C.
Another memorable pairing came during rapper Eminem’s performance, when Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, who collaborated on Dr. Dre’s watershed rap album The Chronic (1992), united onstage for the first time since 1993. Eminem won Best New Artist in a Video for “My Name Is” (RealAudio excerpt).
Just behind Hill and Martin was British big-beat DJ Fatboy Slim, who won three awards for his “Praise You” clip: Breakthrough Video, Best Choreography and Best Direction.
“It means that I’m finally being welcomed into … American, New York show business,” Fatboy Slim (born Norman Cook) said backstage. Clad in a Hawaiian-style shirt, Fatboy Slim didn’t seem to mind that comedian Chris Rock, the show’s host, renamed him “whiteboy retarded,” following his highly choreographed performance at the telecast. “It’s a fair comment,” he said. “It’s better than ‘Fratboy Slim.’ ”
Rock made similar swipes at artists throughout the night, including numerous jibes at Martin’s ubiquitous hit, rapper and actor Will Smith’s relatively few awards and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez’s increasingly famous rear end.
“I love Jennifer, where you at, girl? You don’t thank your ass enough. She be thankin’ her mommy and daddy, the acting coach. Thank your ass, girl! Thank your ass before the ass go solo. The ass is the star of the show. Jennifer’s just the Commodores, the ass is Lionel Richie.”
While rap-rockers Korn had the most nominations, nine, they only took home two. “Freak on a Leash” (RealAudio excerpt) was honored for Best Rock Video and Best Editing.
Last year’s big winner, Madonna, became the most-honored artist in the history of the Video Music Awards when she won Best Video From a Film for “Beautiful Stranger” (RealAudio excerpt). Her 18th trophy moved her ahead of veteran artists Aerosmith and Michael Jackson.
Will Smith introduced Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace — the mothers of slain rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., respectively — before presenting the Best Rap Video award to Jay-Z, for “Can I Get A …”
“Biggie, Tupac forever, ya’ll,” Jay-Z said as he accepted the award. “Hip-hop music.”
Wallace said backstage that she wanted her son to be remembered for “his honesty and the love that he showed you all.” Afeni Shakur expressed hope her son would be remembered for his heart and integrity.
Near the end of the show, a phalanx of female impersonators, modeling Madonna’s various looks throughout her career, paraded onstage. They were followed by Madonna herself, who strolled down the line, giving a mock inspection of the group, nodding her approval.
MTV 16th Annual Video Music Award Winners:
Video of the Year: Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Best R&B Video: Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Best Rock Video: Korn, “Freak on a Leash”
Best Hip-Hop Video: Beastie Boys, “Intergalactic”
Viewers’ Choice: Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way”
Best Rap Video: Jay-Z (featuring Ja Rule & Amil-Lion), “Can I Get A …”
Best Pop Video: Ricky Martin, “Livin’ la Vida Loca”
Best Direction in a Video: Fatboy Slim, “Praise You”
Best Female Video: Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Best Video From a Film: Madonna, “Beautiful Stranger”
Best New Artist in a Video: Eminem, “My Name Is”
Best Group Video: TLC, “No Scrubs”
Best Male Video: Will Smith, “Miami”
Best Dance Video: Ricky Martin, “Livin’ la Vida Loca”
Breakthrough Video: Fatboy Slim, “Praise You”
Best Art Direction in a Video: Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Best Special Effects in a Video: Garbage, “Special”
Best Editing in a Video: Korn, “Freak on a Leash”
Best Choreography in a Video: Fatboy Slim, “Praise You”
Best Cinematography in a Video: Marilyn Manson, “The Dope Show”
(SonicNet is a division of MTV Interactive.)
(Senior Editor Gil Kaufman and Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)