MTV Honors Its Favorites
It's not whether you snare an award that means the most at MTV's Video Music Awards. It's how many bleeped words you spew -- or how much flesh you show.
In the last few years, the next day's water-cooler chat has centered on whether Britney's nearly naked dance seemed erotic or desperate. And whether Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst dissed Christina Aguilera in their dishy duet. (Or was it the other way around?)
For this year's show, which takes place tonight, rumor has it that Britney will perform her song "I'm a Slave 4 U" surrounded by circus animals. That's one way to get attention.
In between other hijinks, MTV will actually hand out some awards. This is the 18th time MTV has given out its top prizes -- and the second in three years from the highbrow stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.
The telecast is three-hours long. Along the way, expect performances from U2, Alicia Keys, Ja Rule, Jennifer Lopez, Staind and, of course, Britney. The frivolity will be broken up by scores of presenters and host Jamie Foxx.
Who's likely to win? Read on.
Best Male Video Eminem, "Stan"; Lenny Kravitz, "Again"; Moby, "South Side"; Nelly, "Ride Wit Me"; Robbie Williams, "Rock DJ"
Robbie Williams' video outdoes everything here. Too bad it wasn't popular enough. Nelly's entry hits all the worst hip-hop video cliches. And while Lenny Kravitz's exudes star attitude, it's no match for Moby's (which features him in drag) or Eminem's, which has an actual story line. Given the foulmouthed rapper's popularity on MTV, he's bound to win.
Best Female Video
Eve/Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"; Dido, "Thank You"; Missy Elliott, "Get Ur Freak On"; Janet Jackson, "All For You"; Jennifer Lopez, "Love Don't Cost a Thing"; Madonna, "Don't Tell Me"
Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On" is a study in hammering home the hook. It should win. The video features two killer effects: Missy's neck stretching like elastic, and the camera tracking her phlegm in the same way Korn traced the path of a bullet for its multiple winning "Freak on a Leash."
Best Direction in a Video
Dr. Dre/Phillip Atwell, "Stan"; Spike Jonze, "Weapon of Choice"; The Brothers Stause, "Crawling"; F. Gary Gray, "Ms. Jackson"; Garth Jennings, "Imitation of Life"
Digital post-production is the standard with major videos, but when it comes to making something that's just plain fun to watch, Spike Jonze consistently crafts mini-masterpieces with old-school techniques. The key here was casting Christopher Walken as a soft shoe strutter who satisfies his Gene Kelly jones to a techno beat.
Video of the Year
Christina Aguilera et al., "Lady Marmalade"; Eminem, "Stan"; Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice"; Janet Jackson, "All For You"; Missy Elliott, "Get Ur Freak On"; U2, "Beautiful Day"
The two most creative clips here are Elliott's and Fatboy Slim's. The former offers the world's first example of video origami, while the latter has that soaring footwork of Walken. Given Jonze's prestige with voters (and his multiple wins for a Fatboy clip years ago), expect the Walken piece to dance off with the top trinket.