With four awards each, OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” were the top winners at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, presented last night (Aug. 29) at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
“Hey Ya!” won the prizes for best video of the year, best hip-hop video, best special effects in a video and best art direction in a video. “99 Problems,” which led the field with six nominations, took the awards for best rap video, best direction in a video, best editing in a video and best cinematography in a video.
After winning the video of the year honor, OutKast closed the show with an energetic medley of “Prototype,” “Ghetto Musick,” “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move.”
Other multiple winners were Usher’s “Yeah!” (best male video, best dance video) and No Doubt’s “It’s My Life,” which won the awards for best pop video and best group video.
It was a year of firsts for the 2004 MTV VMAs. This was the first year that the event was not held in New York or Los Angeles, the first without a host and the debut of a new VMA category: best soundtrack from a videogame, which went to “Tony Hawk’s Underground” (Activision).
The show opened with Jennifer Lopez introducing Usher, who performed a medley of “Confessions Part One” and “Yeah!,” with the latter song featuring appearances by Lil Jon and Ludacris.
Other performers at this year’s VMAs included Jessica Simpson, Jet, Hoobastank, Yellowcard, Christina Aguilera with Nelly, the Polyphonic Spree, Terror Squad featuring Fat Joe with Ying Yang Twins, Petey Pablo and the ubiquitous Lil Jon.
Maybe it was the fallout over the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake controversy at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show (which MTV produced), but this year’s VMAs were relatively sedate compared to previous incarnations of the show.
Although comedian Dave Chappelle joked that inviting him to be on a live TV show was MTV’s “biggest mistake since Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl,” ultimately there were no incidents likely to bring on the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission.
There were some surprises, but none of them were shocking. The most welcome unannounced performer was Stevie Wonder, who joined Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz on a powerful version of Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Keys also sang her hit “If I Ain’t Got You” (which won the VMA for best R&B video), and later gave a tribute speech about the late Ray Charles.
Kanye West’s much-hyped “surprise” guest turned out to be Chaka Khan, who warbled her hit “Through the Fire” (and often did so off-key) during West’s performance of “Through the Wire.”
George W. Bush’s daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush (via satellite in New York) and Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry (daughters of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry) appeared together to stress the importance of voting. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, John Mellencamp and Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee also discussed the issue during the broadcast.
Australian band Jet won the best rock video award for “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” Backstage in the press room, lead singer Nic Cester expressed surprise, “considering we spent only about 50 grand on the video, and everyone else spent like $2 million.”
Keys said backstage that her onstage collaboration with Wonder and Kravitz was “a dream come true.” She added of the performance, “I really wanted to do something special this year. It showed that all three of us singer/songwriters/producers could jam together for real.”