NEW YORK Latin sensation Ricky Martin and Fugees singer and solo star Lauryn Hill continued their pop reign at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday night (Sept. 9), grabbing a combined total of nine moonmen trophies at the 16th annual ceremony.
But it was Beastie Boys rapper Ad-Rock who left the crowd speechless.
Accepting his band's award for Best Hip-Hop Video for "Intergalactic," he called on artists to help ensure the safety of women attending concerts, in light of numerous allegations of rapes and other sexual assaults at the Woodstock '99 festival in July.
"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 (born Adam Horovitz) said, eliciting silence from the crowd.
"Do you all remember that?" he added. "So, I'm thinkin', 'Why should I just feel angry about it and be mad about it?' I think we can do something about it as musicians."
It was an isolated moment of seriousness in a night dominated by bad jokes and superstar performances.
In addition to scoring Video of the Year, Hills' "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (RealAudio excerpt) struck gold in the categories of best R&B Video, Best Female Video and Best Art Direction, for a total of four awards.
Meanwhile, 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 of his Best Pop Video win.
Hill's wins continue 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.
"Every year an artist comes along and creates a seminal album that changes everything we think about music," rock legend David Bowie said when he introduced Hill's performance. "He or she finds connections that the rest of us don't make, and they see our world in a unique and extraordinary fashion an album that blows everyone away. ... I feel genuinely privileged to introduce such an artist tonight."
Hill received another star-power salute later in the evening, when Madonna and Beatles legend Paul McCartney presented her with the Video of the Year award.
Sliding in behind Hill and Martin was British big-beat DJ Fatboy Slim, who won three awards for his "Praise You" clip, including Breakthrough Video, Best Choreography and Best Direction. "It means that I'm finally being welcomed into the American, New York show business," Fatboy Slim (born Norman Cook) said backstage of his wins. Clad in a Hawaiian-style shirt, Slim didn't seem to mind comedian and award-show host Chris Rock's renaming him "whiteboy retarded," following his highly choreographed performance at the telecast. "It's a fair comment," he said. "It's better than 'Fratboy Slim.' "
Chris Rock made similar swipes at artists throughout the night, including numerous jibes at Martin's ubiquitous hit, rapper Will Smith's relatively few moonman awards and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez's increasingly famous rear end.
While Korn's nine nominations were the most, the rap-rockers only took home two both for the clip for "Freak on a Leash" (RealAudio excerpt), which won Best Rock Video and Best Editing.
Last year's big winner, Madonna, became the most honored artist in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards, winning Best Video From a Film for her "Beautiful Stranger" (RealAudio excerpt) clip. It pushed her total up to 18, moving her ahead of veteran artists Aerosmith and Michael Jackson.
The ceremony, held at the Metropolitan Opera House, featured performances by techno rockers Nine Inch Nails, hip-hop songstress Lauryn Hill and rappers DMX and Jay-Z, as well as several surprises.
Rapper Kid Rock opened the show with an over-the-top performance that featured cameos from hip-hop legends Run-D.M.C. The New York hip-hop trio teamed with Kid Rock and old friends rockers Aerosmith for a version of the Run-D.M.C./ Aerosmith remake of the rock band's hit "Walk This Way."
Another memorable pairing came during Eminem's performance, when Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre united onstage for the first time since 1993. Eminem won Best New Artist in a Video for "My Name Is" (RealAudio excerpt).
Industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails gave a cathartic performance of the title track to their forthcoming album, The Fragile (Sept. 21), under swinging cranes with flashing lights.
During his speech about Woodstock '99, Ad-Rock suggested that musicians band together to stop sexual assaults from taking place during shows. "I'm talking to all the musicians here," he said. "I think we can talk to the promoters and make sure that they're doing something about the safety of all the girls and the women who come to our shows. I think we can talk to the security people to make sure they know and understand about sexual harassment and rape and they know how to handle these situations. I want to dedicate this award to everybody out there who's down to make change happen. Thanks."
Earlier in the evening, Limp Bizkit leader Fred Durst told MTV the group would address the fallout from their controversial performance at the three-day Woodstock '99 fest in their upcoming video for the single "Re-Arranged." Durst urged a rowdy crowd of tens of thousands to act up during the band's set. Hundreds of fans were hurt during the moshing that began with Limp Bizkit's performance that night, according to medical professionals on the scene.
Rapper Will Smith introduced the mothers of slain rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace, respectively, prior to presenting the Best Rap Video award to Jay-Z. The pair praised the legacy of their sons' contribution to rap. "Biggie, Tupac forever, ya'll," Jay-Z said as he accepted the award. "Hip-hop music." Voletta 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, an array of female impersonators, modeling Madonna's various looks throughout her career, paraded onstage, forming a phalanx. 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)
(Staff Writer Brian Hiatt and Contributing Editor Frank Tortorici contributed to this report)