Chicago spices video awards


August 29, 2005


"Anything can happen" allegedly was the theme of the 22nd annual MTV Video Music Awards show, which was broadcast live Sunday night from Miami.

Viewers knew this because it was mentioned no fewer than a dozen times by host Diddy -- formerly rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs, formerly Puff Daddy, formerly P. Diddy, but never much of a talent.

Once the year's most entertaining music television extravaganza -- if never the least bit credible as an awards show -- the Video Music Awards continued a slide that started several years ago, hitting a new low as a bloated, contrived, vapid and pointlessly self-congratulatory endurance fest.

The canned and soulless nature of most of the performances was the exact opposite of edgy spontaneity. Rather than "anything can happen," it was more like, "Something happen ... please!"

While MTV pandered to local artists and hyped its Miami locale for the second year in a row -- despite nearly being derailed by Hurricane Katrina -- the show was dominated by Chicago artists, who provided some of the most notable performances of the night, as well as claiming several awards.

Kanye West, who will release his much-anticipated sophomore album "Late Registration" on Tuesday, launched the new disc with a fiery rendition of "Gold Digger," dueting with actor Jamie Foxx, who was still channeling Ray Charles while providing the recurring vocal hook, and earning numerous "bleeps" as he rapped a streetwise take about money-hungry predators of both sexes.

West also won the prize for best male video for "Jesus Walks" from his first album, "The College Dropout."

Just as gripping -- but for much stranger reasons -- was the performance by Chicago R&B superstar R. Kelly, who made his most high-profile televised appearance since his 2002 indictment on charges of making child pornography.

Introducing the latest installment of his seemingly never-ending "Trapped in the Closet" soap operetta, Kelly played all three roles and introduced "Chapter Six" of the tawdry saga, returning to check in on the adulterous, bisexual trio of Chuck, Rufus and Kathy. But the story was almost impossible to follow as the dialogue jumped from character to character, and halfway through, Kelly gave up even trying to keep up or pretending to lip-sync. He didn't even have a microphone.

Viewers left with the odd spectacle of a troubled superstar facing a trial that could land him in jail for up to 18 years, standing on stage silently mumbling to himself about a bunch of fictional sex addicts.

The other performance with a disturbing subtext came from Puffy -- oops, Diddy -- who for the hundred-thousandeth time paid tribute to his slain friend, Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.), without making any acknowledgement that rap mogul Suge Knight had been shot and wounded early Sunday morning. (A feud between Diddy and Biggie in one camp and Tupac Shakur and Knight in the other is suspected in playing a role in the deaths of both Biggie and Tupac.)

Chicagoan Common did not claim an award, though he did do a bit of freestyle rapping while presenting an award. And local pop-punks Fallout Boy took the MTV2 award for the video for "Sugar." (The group performed at the MTV pre-show, establishing the pattern of almost every performer winning an award at some point, or every award winner "coincidentally" performing.)

Usually reliable rockers Green Day and Coldplay delivered stilted performances that paled in comparison to those they unleashed several weeks ago at Live 8; not surprisingly, Mariah Carey and Shakira both emphasized appearances over music; short cameos by a trio of reggaeton artists and faded rap star M.C. Hammer were so brief as to be pointless, and the Killers and My Chemical Romance did nothing to justify the considerable hype behind each.

However, if there had been an award for the most inexplicable hype, it would have gone to the "American Idol"-produced mediocrity Kelly Clarkson, who claimed the awards for Best Female Video and Best Pop Video, and provided the "grand finale" ending with a typically histrionic, unusually screechy and water-drenched rendition of "Since U Been Gone."

Anything can happen on the VMAs? Not quite, but a prefab pop star manufactured by another network can be the night's biggest (if soggiest, given the onstage rain) winner, and that's something. Just don't ask me what.

Winners of the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards:

Video of the Year: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best Male Video: Kanye West, "Jesus Walks."

Best Female Video: Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone."

Best Rock Video: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best R&B Video: Alicia Keys, "Karma."

Best Dance Video: Missy Elliott f/Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, "Lose Control."

Best Rap Video: Ludacris, "Number One Spot."

Best Hip-Hop Video: Missy Elliott f/Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, "Lose Control."

Best Pop Video: Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone."

Best New Artist: The Killers, "Mr. Brightside."

Viewer's Choice Award: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best Group Video: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"

Best Editing: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best Cinematography: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best Direction: Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Best Choreography: Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl."

Best Art Direction: Gwen Stefani, "What Are You Waiting For?"

Breakthrough Video: Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc."

Best Special Effects: Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc."

Best Video Game Soundtrack: Dance Dance Revolution Extreme.

MTV2 Award: Fall Out Boy, "Sugar, We're Going Down."