Bowler caps, bow ties, corsets, crystals, "boobie thingies" — no, these are not the remnants of last weekend's Halloween rave but rather the accoutrements returning host
It was a night contrasted by both the old and new, bad jokes on the German language and crackling political overtones. Veteran act Green Day opened up the show with a blistering two-song performance that had lead singer Billie Joe pogoing his way through the crowd and ending in shooting flames and fireworks as "Minority" slowed to its last four-note chord. (Proving why the group was once synonymous with teenage angst, Joe later returned to the stage after winning for Best Rock with these wise words: "Great that we got the best co-- band — I mean, rock band. Pardon my German.")
A slithering and glittering Katy Perry then took the stage, bellowing out "Herzlich wilkommen meine damen und herren!" and performed a raw-vocal medley that included the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." Curiously, Perry then ribbed Lady Gaga later during the show when she emerged from a set design involving a giant ruby-red shoe. "They say that if a guy has big shoes, then he has ... the funny thing is, I think this belongs to Lady Gaga!"
The first award of the night went to U2 for Best Live Act. Taking the stage, Bono introduced the Edge, who in an emotional speech expressed how the recording of "One" in Berlin — inspired by Germany's then-recent reunification and symbol as the new Europe — "brought the band together." More East/West references abounded. Upon winning the award for Best Urban, Jay-Z, donning sunglasses and a black leather jacket, succinctly said, "The will come a day when the only walls that come down are just music," then said something about the Jonas Brothers.
Both Lady Gaga (Best New Act) and Eminem (Best Male) accepted their awards remotely through televised acceptance speeches.
And what is an awards show in Germany without the Hoff? Clad in a dazzling chrome silver dinner jacket, David Hasselhoff returned the country's seemingly undying love for him by flashing his select knowledge of the native language. "Yo! Twenty years! Alles klar! I am not responsible for the wall falling down," the former "Baywatch" actor announced with an apparent slur. "Wie gehts? Alles klar! Gut!"
But it was three-time winner Beyoncé (Best Song, "Halo"; Best Female; Best Video, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)") who had the best line of the night. Having performed earlier in a silken red set straight out of a Daphne du Maurier novel, the visibly weary singer simply said upon receiving her final award: "There is one person I want to thank, and that is Jay — for putting a ring on it!" then shot her fist into the air to loud cheers. "You go, B!" Katy Perry shouted from the sidelines.
Despite other spirited performances from Jay-Z, Shakira and overwhelmingly popular local androgynoids Tokio Hotel, the true stage spectacle of the night came from Leona Lewis. What started off as a rather standard rendition of "Happy," set against a starry background, experienced a jaw-dropping special effect as a green vortex whirred around the singer then dramatically vanished into glittering stardust.
In the much-publicized highlight of the evening, Dublin rockers U2 performed a free 20-minute set in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate for the rabid 10,000 fans who had secured a spot online. Shot several hours earlier and beamed into the arena, the concert moved the audience even remotely as the giant pillars were emblazoned with the words "One Love" and "Freedom." "Happy birthday, Berlin!" frontman Bono crowed during a performance of "One," his voice both soaring and sage.
U2 returned to the big screen to close out the show, this time with Jay-Z freestyling over a performance of "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Jay-Z rapped in the lyrics from Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up." The gates behind them lit up in the holiday colors of green and red, like an early present. Bono leaned in to hold to Jay-Z's hand as the duo raised them up triumphantly in the air.