The night's most memorable moment happened before the show even started. Beyonce Knowles announced on the red (actually, black) carpet that she's pregnant with her first child with Jay-Z. Her publicist confirmed the pregnancy to ABCNews.com, putting an end to years of speculation about when hip-hop's No. 1 power couple will procreate.
She later performed and before walking off stage, undid her sequined blazer and rubbed her growing belly to the delight of the crowd and her husband, who beamed and clapped with his "Watch the Throne" partner, Kanye West.
Lady Gaga kicked off the official ceremonies in a way that only she could: Dressed as her male alter-ego, Jo Calderone, smoking cigarettes and spouting off a monologue about fame and high heels before launching into a rollicking rendition of "You and I." The audience seemed as riveted as Gaga's screaming fans -- Britney Spears gaped watching her shtick.
Spears took the stage soon after Gaga to accept the pop video of the year award for "Till the World Ends." She looked like a head of state in next to Gaga, thanking God and professing her love for her sons and agent/boyfriend, Jason Trawick.
They shared the stage later in the evening when Gaga presented Spears with the video vanguard award and confessed, either jokingly or for real, "I used to hang posters of her on my wall and touch myself while I was laying in bed." She tried to kiss Spears but got shot down: "I've done that already," Spears said, referencing her mini make out with Madonna at the 2003 VMAs.
R&B star Chris Brown gave one of the night's best dance performances, flying and somersaulting above the crowd on gossamer strings. British breakout singer Adele wowed without flashy props, belting out "Someone Like You." Lil Wayne offered an off-the-wall rendition of an expletive filled track off his new album, online today, "Tha Carter IV."
Celebration broke for reflection when Tony Bennett took the mic to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse, who passed away last month after years of drug and alcohol abuse. Winehouse's final recording, "Heart and Soul," was a duet with Bennett.
"She was a true jazz artist in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday," he said. "Either you've got it or you haven't got it and Amy had the whole gift, she sang beautiful."