Riding high from her smash single “Umbrella,” Rihanna cleaned up at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, taking home two of the evening’s most prestigious trophies: video of the year and monster single of the year.
The singer was nominated for five awards at the ceremony, which broadcast live on Sunday from the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The evening’s other big winner was seven-time nominee Justin Timberlake who collected four Moonmen including ones for quadruple threat of the year and male artist of the year.
Apart from the major winners (and Britney Spears’s opening performance) the other big news at this year’s VMAs: A novel approach to staging. Instead of using one stage, artists offered mini-performances throughout the telecast from various spots in the Palms. Singer Alicia Keys introduced the concept, explaining that VMA performers would be holding court in private suites to perform and party.
Early in the show, a tuxedoed Kanye West ran through part of his nominated song “Stronger” from a packed suite, surrounded by dancing fans all sporting his trademark white sunglasses. (The rapper later offered an encore, venturing outside as he performed a new song, “Good Life.”) And rockers Fall Out Boy charged through a minute of their single “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.”
Other big performances: Timberlake adding vocals to 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology.” And Rihanna‘s version of “Umbrella,” which was sandwiched between a dance performance by R&B singer Chris Brown.
Later in the show, 18-year-old Brown got props from Timberlake, 26, who said: “Nobody likes to be reminded that they’re getting older. And whatever Chris Brown just did reminded me of how I’m getting older – ’cause damn. It’s just exciting to see.”
But, as always, some of the award show’s most shining moments were the unscripted ones.
Here are some of the night’s most quotable moments:
• Sarah Silverman delivered some scathing one-liners in her opening monologue. After ribbing Britney Spears’s performance, she went after the singer’s children, Sean Preston and Jayden James, calling them “the most adorable mistakes you will ever see.”
• Multiple-winner Justin Timberlake imploring MTV to play more music videos. “Play more damn videos,” he said. “We don’t want to see the Simpsons on reality television. Play more videos!”
• Presenter Shia LaBeouf slipping and revealing the (possible) new name of the latest Indiana Jones franchise, which he’s currently filming. The purported name? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Then, the actor accepted an award for no-show Fergie, saying, “I am going to take this award then. This is my award. Word.”