If it weren't official before, it is now: VH1 viewers love the Dave Matthews Band. The arena-stuffing road warriors waltzed off with three trophies at VH1's second annual My Music Awards, held last night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Fans, who chose winners via online polling, picked Matthews and Co. for My Favorite Group and their "Everyday" record for Must Have Album, while the "The Space Between" won in the coveted Damn I Wish I Wrote That (Best Song) category.
The two-hour affair, hosted non-threateningly by Will & Grace star Eric McCormack, adhered closely to the Grammys' proven "if-you-perform-you-will-win" formula: Gwen Stefani won for My Favorite Female Artist (No Doubt performed "Hey Baby"), Lenny Kravitz (who performed an inanimate "Dig In" and later dueted with Mick Jagger) was voted My Favorite Male Artist, and Bon Jovi were declared to have the Hottest Live Show (Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora opened the event with "Here Comes the Sun" in homage to George Harrison). Show organizers, it would seem, did some advance census taking before assembling a wish list.
"I thought we won both categories we were nominated in," Bon Jovi said after the show. "And I was actually pretty surprised we didn't win both [Bon Jovi lost out to DMB for My Favorite Group]. We knew the polls. I knew we were up by 5,000 votes. It was a last-minute thing . . . But I don't mind being the best live band, beating U2 and the Dave Matthews Band. We pride ourselves on being a great live rock band."
While Matthews and Stefani (the later also garnered the There's No "I" in Team honor alongside Bono, Nelly Furtado and others for "What's Going On") were My Music's prince and princess, Mary J. Blige proved herself its queen. The hip-hop diva transcended the show's altogether antiseptic vibe with two urgently soulful performances: one of her current hits "Family Affair" and "No More Drama," and the other, a gospel-minded duet of "If You Love Someone Set Them Free" with Sting, that moved a crowd of mostly very white people to jump up and testify.
"I was a little intimidated," Blige said of first meeting Sting. "But once I saw what kind of person he is, I felt comfortable."
Other performers included Nelly Furtado, effervescent if pitch-y in delivering "Turn Off the Light" and Jewel, who sang a sedentary song - "Standing Still" -- beautifully.
"One of the things I struggle with all the time in my job is not being able to have direct contact with who I'm making music for," Jewel said. "It always has to go through the channels, and it gets diluted. You can't really get honest feedback. So the thing I like about [the My Music Awards] is you can actually have direct contact with fans without going through a journalist or anyone else."
Though markedly less messy (production-wise) than 2000's inaugural fiasco, this year's show was identical to its predecessor in that spontaneity was absent and big laughs couldn't make it either. Tommy Lee did squeeze in the "sword" (twice!) before a (pre-planned) stage dive, and Chris Isaak ad-libbed porno innuendo with model James King but, beyond that, it was largely teleprompter tedium.
Noticeably erased from this year's My Music Awards was the one award VH1 concocted in 2000 that truly sauntered into unchartered waters, namely, daring fragile pop stars to laugh at themselves. The "You Want Fries With That Album?" award honored those who'd remorselessly whored themselves out to Madison Avenue. Too hot for sponsors, it was awarded off camera last year (to Faith Hill for her triumphant work with Pepsi). It disappeared altogether in 2001. That's one small step backwards for My Music's supposed attitude, one giant leap forward for advertisers everywhere.
My VH1 Music Awards 2001 winners:
My Favorite Group: Dave Matthews Band
There's No "I" In Team (Best Collaboration): Various Artists including Bono, Gwen Stefani, Mary J.Blige, Nelly Furtado and others, "What's Going On."
My Favorite Male Artist: Lenny Kravitz
My Favorite Female Artist: Gwen Stefani
Damn I Wish I Wrote That (Best Song): "The Space Between" (Dave Matthews Band)
Is It Hot in Here, or Is It Just My Video: Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink ("Lady Marmalade")
Hottest Live Show: Bon Jovi
Must Have Album: Everyday (Dave Matthews Band)
Best Kept Secret: Coldplay
Navel Academy: Britney Spears
Welcome to the Big Time: Alicia Keys
Your Song Kicked Ass but Was Played Too Damn Much: Staind ("It's Been Awhile")
My Favorite Video: "Lady Marmalade" (Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink)
Best Actor in a Video: Christopher Walken (Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice")
Coolest Fan Site: Dave Matthews Band (nancies.org)
Big in Japan (International Award): Coldplay