Who would have thought the hottest thing at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards would be Christopher Walken?
Fueled by Walken's high-flying soft-shoe, Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video and its director, Spike Jonze, soared to the head of the class Monday (July 23) when nominations for this year's Video Music Awards were unveiled. (Click for a complete list of nominees.)
MTV also revealed that U2 and Alicia Keys are the first acts confirmed to perform at the 18th annual awards show, set for September 6 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
"Weapon of Choice" leads the way with nine nods, recapturing a bit of the magic that Jonze and Slim found with their 1999 clip for "Praise You," which won three Video Music Awards (see Lauryn Hill, Fatboy Slim, Ricky Martin, Korn Lead VMA Pack"). The latest Fatboy/Jonze production grabbed nominations for Video of the Year, Best Dance Video and Breakthrough Video, as well as nods in each of the VMAs' six "professional" categories (including Best Direction and Best Special Effects).
Fatboy Slim will vie for the top prize, Video of the Year, with U2 ("Beautiful Day"), Janet Jackson ("All for You"), Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On"), Eminem and Dido ("Stan") and the team of Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil' Kim ("Lady Marmalade").
Elliott, 'NSYNC, and the "Lady Marmalade" gang picked up six nominations apiece. Elliott's walk in the oddball jungle, "Get Ur Freak On," is up for Best Female Video and Best Direction, among others. Aguilera, Mya, Pink, and Lil' Kim count nominations for Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video and Best Video From a Movie among their stash of six. 'NSYNC's shiny, shimmering clip for "Pop" will compete in categories including Best Group Video, Best Dance Video and Best Pop Video.
English songbird Dido also grabbed six nominations, though five of them came courtesy of her work with Eminem on "Stan." In addition to Video of the Year, that clip is up for Best Male Video, Best Rap Video, Best Cinematography and Best Direction, while Dido's video for "Thank You" the song Eminem sampled for the chorus of "Stan" will vie for Best Female Video.
U2 got four nods for "Elevation" and another one for "Beautiful Day." Matching the Irish rockers' total were Destiny's Child, who split five nominations between "Survivor," with three, and "Independent Women Part 1," with two.
Janet Jackson grabbed four nominations, adding nods for Best Female Video, Best Dance Video and Best Choreography to her tap for Video of the Year. Showing the benefits of teamwork, No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani grabbed four nominations as well: three for her work with Eve on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" and one for her collaboration with Moby on "South Side."
Eve's video will duke it out for Best Female Video, Best Hip-Hop Video and Viewer's Choice. Aerosmith, Nelly and Robbie Williams also grabbed three nominations apiece, while Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, the Backstreet Boys, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Outkast, Gorillaz and Limp Bizkit each picked up two. The battle for Best New Artist will feature Coldplay, Nikka Costa, David Gray, Alicia Keys and token noisemakers Sum41.
While such fringe MTV artists as Gorillaz and Robbie Williams grabbed multiple nominations, some of the channel's staples Britney Spears, Staind, DMX, Jay-Z and Weezer must content themselves with only one. A host for the awards show is expected to be named soon, along with presenters and additional performers.
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.
Vote for the Viewer's Choice Award, see a timeline of MTV Video Music Awards history, and relive highlights of last year's event. And for more MTV Video Music Awards news, check out the MTV News VMA archive.