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Missy, Justin Tops at VMAs

Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” takes one prize

Having compiled seventeen MTV Video Music Award nominations without a win, Missy Elliott had become the event’s equivalent to Randy Newman at the Academy Awards. But last night at the twentieth annual VMAs, Elliott’s “Work It” won the evening’s highest honor, Video of the Year, as well as Best Hip-Hop Video, ending the rapper’s losing streak.

Though Elliott led all nominees with eight nods, her two wins didn’t constitute the highest tally. Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Coldplay each took home three moonmen at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” won Best Male Video and Best Pop Video (“This is cooler than bubblegum for me,” he said of the latter), and his “Rock Your Body” won Best Dance Video. Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” took honors for Best Female Video, Best R&B Video and Best Choreography in a Video. And Coldplay’s “The Scientist” earned awards for Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video and Best Direction in a Video.

The evening’s emotional favorite — but an oddsmaker’s longshot — Johnny Cash earned kudos from several of the acts to take the stage (Timberlake called his own Best Male Video victory “a travesty,” adding, “I demand a recount”). But Cash’s video for his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” went one-for-five, only winning Best Cinematography in a Video. Cash had planned on attending the event, but was hospitalized earlier in the week for a stomach ailment.

As has become customary, most of the evening’s festivities were about surprise collaborations, starting with the opening live performance during which Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera pulled off a Madonna homage. The young pop singers crooned “Like a Virgin” clad in wedding gowns as their predecessor did at the very first VMA event in 1983. Madonna joined the pair for “Hollywood” before Missy Elliott hip-hopped her way into the mix for a bit of “Work It.” The performance was topped by a gawk-inducing kiss between Madonna and Spears.

Aguilera returned to perform later and was joined by Dave Navarro on guitar. 50 Cent, a double winner for Best Rap Video and Best New Artist in a Video (both for “In Da Club”) lent his voice to Mary J. Blige’s performance, and he was joined on his own “P.I.M.P.” by Snoop Dogg.

And though Metallica’s show closing “Frantic” didn’t rely on collaboration with any other artists, the metal vets still played by the recombinant rules, with a tip of the hat to twenty-years of the Video Music Awards. The group kicked off its performance with an instrumental medley of song snippets, including Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and their own “Enter Sandman.”

Host Chris Rock, back after a five-year layoff, provided a more assured and humorous host than Jimmy Fallon did last year, sparing none of the evening’s acts (he came down particularly hard on P. Diddy and R. Kelly) save Eminem, because he feared the rapper would take aim at him with his songs . . . and “too much stuff rhymes with Rock.”

Tributes during the evening came from P. Diddy (he donned a shirt offering a remembrances of Barry White and Gregory Hines on the back), who was joined by the Reverend Run and DMC to present the Best Rap Video Award, after honoring slain DJ Jam Master Jay while a group of fans hoisted white Adidas tennis shoes.

And the reunited Duran Duran, on hand as presenters, seemed genuinely flummoxed when presented with the lifetime achievement award. “This is a bit of a surprise,” singer Simon Le Bon said. “I think we’ve been punk’d, actually,” Nick Rhodes added. It was perhaps the most fitting of the evening’s anniversary-inspired moments, even more so than Madonna’s passing of the torch to Britney and Christina. Duran Duran were almost as responsible for making MTV as MTV was for making them, and the band provided an appropriate totem for the network’s landmark anniversary, looking back while looking forward.

The 2003 MTV Video Music Awards winners:

Best Video of the Year
Missy Elliott, “Work It”

Best Male Video
Justin Timberlake, “Cry Me a River”

Best Female Video
Beyonce Knowles, “Crazy in Love”

Best Rap Video
50 Cent, “In Da Club”

Best Group Video
Coldplay, “The Scientist”

Best R&B Video
Beyonce Knowles, “Crazy in Love”

Best Hip-Hop Video
Missy Elliott, “Work It”

Best Dance Video
Justin Timberlake, “Rock Your Body”

Best Rock Video
Linkin Park, “Somewhere I Belong”

Best Pop Video
Justin Timberlake, “Cry Me a River”

Best New Artist in a Video
50 Cent, “In Da Club”

Best Video From a Film
Eminem, “Lose Yourself”

MTV2 Award (voted on by fans)
A.F.I., “Girls Not Gray”

Viewer’s Choice (voted on by fans)
Good Charlotte, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”

Breakthrough Video
Coldplay, “The Scientist”

Best Direction in a Video
Coldplay, “The Scientist”

Best Choreography in a Video
Beyonce Knowles, “Crazy in Love”

Best Special Effects in a Video
Queens of the Stone Age, “Go With the Flow”

Best Art Direction in a Video
Radiohead, “There, There”

Best Editing in a Video
White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”

Best Cinematography in a Video
Johnny Cash, “Hurt”


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