Nothing got the party started during the ceremonies Thursday night.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Where are Eminem and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog when you need them?
Despite Shakira's ever-gyrating hips, Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" and the obscured image of a naked midget, Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards had about as much spontaneity as an episode of "Cribs."
"You didn't bring the thunder. You didn't bring anything," host Jack Black, looking at himself in his dressing room mirror, said during one skit, unintentionally summing up the evening.
Pink's parody of bubble-headed pop tarts, "Stupid Girls," won for best pop video; Beyonce took home a trophy for her booty-shaking "Check On It"; British crooner James Blunt won best male video for his "Beautiful"; and Fall Out Boy won the viewer's choice award for their clip "Dance, Dance."
But nobody but a video choreographer's mother watches this show for the awards. Fans watch for the eye-popping moments: FCC-flaunting skits, nearly naked starlets, foul-mouthed rockers and rappers and those embarassingly bad dance numbers.
They do not watch for lectures from former Vice President Al Gore on global warming. When does the phrase "here's a photo of a glacier melting" ever fit into an awards show?
Somewhere along the way, the MTV Awards seemed to have morphed into the Grammys. Christina Aguilera, who previously shocked our senses as the dirty Xtina, looked downright classy as she performed a low-key ballad. And there were no malfunctions whatsoever during Timberlake's perfunctory show kickoff.
"This show has been lame f---- for the past 20 years," Black said before he took the stage Thursday night for his opening sketch. "And I'm going to light the match!"
Instead, Black continued a trend. He had a promising bit that poked fun at the show's increasingly staid reputation. Painting himself as the man to inject life back into the VMAs, he took to the stage in a moonman outfit -- which caught fire.
But Black's shtick quickly got old. Even Lil' Kim, who once appeared at the VMAs wearing a pasty on one breast, failed to get the party started. Recently released from prison after serving time for perjury, she stripped off an orange jail suit to reveal ... something that resembled a funky business suit. Hillary Clinton has worn more revealing outfits.
Though the MTV Awards have never lacked star power -- last year, Diddy acted as host and stars ranging from Eva Longoria to Jessica Simpson and then-hubby Nick Lachey squeezed themselves into the spotlight -- that trademark water-cooler MTV moment hasn't materialized recently (like Eminem punching out a puppet).
This year, the disturbing trend of normalcy continued. Shakira and Wyclef Jean performed a colorful but rote performance of her smash "Hips Don't Lie"; Ludacris and Pharrell posed their way through "Showstopper." Not even Britney Spears Kevin Federline could strike a spark.
There was just one profanity-laced acceptance speech, courtesy of the rock group AFI, whose frontman accepted the award for best group video by saying: "We just won a moonman -- I am getting so trashed tonight!"
Lack of outrageousness
The night's hottest new couple, new buddies 50 Cent and LL Cool J, introduced one of the awards. But 50, perhaps with no more foes to beef with, was almost Zen-like onstage and offering no fun disses to excite the crowd.
The lack of outrageousness almost made you long back to the days when Michael Jackson was making out with Lisa Marie Presley -- that was creepy, but at least it kept us talking.
Beyonc & eacute; got some points for at least trying to do something that resembled a show-stopper. Singing her call-to-arms, the anti-cheating single "Ring the Alarm," she appeared on stage wearing a sexy trench coat and a searing gaze.
But while her voice was in perfect form, the performance was disjointed, and the out-of-place dance number in the middle seemed to rip off the choreography from Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" almost 20 years earlier.
Still, she managed to keep things interesting -- which could hardly be said for the rest of the evening. At one point, the crew from the MTV gross-out show "Jackass" gave one of its members an electric shock, jolting his system.
If only they could delivered a similar dose to the whole telecast.
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