Page last updated at 09:17 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

MTV Awards turn on the style

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Pink performing at the MTV Europe Music Awards
Pink's single So What was named most addictive track at the awards

With a star-studded line-up and spectacular show, the MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool provided a sweet feast for pop fans.

It is the end of the show and there is a mass pillow fight on stage.

A few dozen gorgeous girls and guys wearing skimpy white underwear are merrily thrashing each other about the head as feathers fly all around.

In front of them, US pop star Pink is belting out her smash hit single So What to a crowd of thousands of screaming fans, who are screaming very loud.

Pink, whose girl power anthem was named most addictive track here, is huge right now, and got a suitably huge reception.

Special effects

She started her performance by smashing a wine bottle over the head of some chump at the bar (just one of those fake stunt wine bottles), before pushing her way through the crowd, singing as she went, and ending up on the central stage.

With the theatrics and the sight of Pink among the fans, it captured a controlled chaos that looks good and edgy on TV.

Katy Perry
Perry made risque, contrived racy remarks at every opportunity

And the sight of the feathers flying in the pillow fight turned a decent performance into a spectacular visual feast - an art that MTV seems to have perfected.

Boundary-breaking visuals, sets and lighting were also used by The Killers, Take That and Kanye West to create more eye-popping performances.

The Killers, performing their new single Human, appeared with each member in a box on the back wall, designed like a giant su doku grid, or a rock 'n' roll Blankety Blank.

Thanks to the lighting, the remaining empty squares were then made to spin around or look like they contained different objects.

For Take That, the central circular stage was suddenly filled with a forest of vertical tubes, which changed colour to provide a 3D light show.

And when Kanye West appeared in a white suit and black bow tie, the visuals - dayglo dancers - were projected onto the plain, empty white stage as well as the screens behind.

Increasing hysteria

This ceremony, held as it is by MTV, was naturally designed to look good on television. And on that score they succeeded better than anyone has before, at least on these shores.

The crowd was hyped up from the start, thanks in no small part to the fact that MTV held auditions for the loudest, most excitable young things to fill the ringside spaces.

They cheered just about everyone with gradually increasing levels of hysteria as the night went on.

The atmosphere was helped by the fact the floor was filled with fans rather than tables of disinterested record company executives, as happens at the Brit Awards.

The Ting Tings
Leto called Ting Tings singer Katie White a witch

The Brits must now be ripping up their rule book. Or they should be.

The show looked great, but the choice of hosts was not such a roaring success.

Pop starlet Katy Perry, picked after having one big hit single, overcame a nervous start and went down well with the target teenage girls. But she risked annoying anyone else with her naughty little girl act.

She was trying ever so hard to be risque, making contrived racy remarks at every opportunity.

She introduced her band as "my friends, my companions, some former lovers", she straddled two giant cherries, making a bad joke about them popping, and then sat on a big banana before revealing: "Girls, it's not how big the banana is, it's how you sit on it."

A lot of time was also given to actor Jared Leto, frontman of rock band 30 Seconds To Mars, who hosted celebrity interviews in the VIP bar.

He managed to offend Ting Tings singer Katie White by saying she looked like "a witch".

When Kid Rock dropped in, Jared asked him if he had anything to get off his chest ("Er, not really") and told the star how he kept thinking he came from Louisiana rather than Detroit, before handing back.

Pretty entertainment

After one of the high points of the show, when Bono handed the legend award to Sir Paul McCartney, it was straight over to Jared and the Sugababes to pontificate pointlessly on the fact Sir Paul was "amazing".

Kid Rock
Kid Rock performed on stage

"I'm sweating like a pig over here and trying not to ruin the show," he revealed a little too candidly at one point.

He and his band did manage to win two awards and Perry one, which felt like a bit of a racket when they were supposedly running the show.

The other winners were also mainly American, despite it being a European ceremony.

The only British winners were Sir Paul, whose award was created solely to get him on the show, and Rick Astley, who was ridiculously named best act ever.

MTV seemed embarrassed that they had been caught in an online campaign to vote for the cheesy 1980s star, glossing over that award without an appearance from Rick himself or even an acceptance video.

But the winners were almost of secondary importance - it was first and foremost a pretty piece of TV entertainment, and MTV excel at that.

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