(ABCNEWS.com) — Christina Aguilera and Lil' Kim posing as courtesans and a dancing Christopher Walken are among the performers vying for attention at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The opera stars typical of New York City's Lincoln Center will step aside as a far more raucous bunch arrives tonight for the music channel's awards at the famed Metropolitan Opera House.
TV personality Jamie Foxx (of The Jamie Foxx Show and the movies Bait and Booty Call) is the new host of the annual event, where the clothing gets skimpier each year.
Rockers U2, Linkin Park, and Staind are on the bill, along with Jay-Z and Jennifer Lopez. Britney Spears is expected to debut a new song, "I'm a Slave 4 U," which is sure to inflame the tempers of those critical of her very sexual persona. The performance is also drawing protests from animal rights activists. According to the New York Post, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is angry over reports that Spears plans to perform with live cheetahs.
Whether or not the big cats are on the bill, the pop princess' boyfriend Justin Timberlake and his group 'N Sync will also perform during the live broadcast. It's even rumored that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop himself, may make an appearance, one day before the first of two star-studded concerts celebrating his 30 years as a solo artist.
The raunchy jokes and revelry will be tempered as the music industry continues to recover from the recent death of 22-year-old R&B star Aaliyah. The singer's brother, aspiring filmmaker Rashad Haughton, will address the crowd in his first public remarks since her death in a plane crash, according to The Associated Press.
Don't Forget the Moon Man … Chart toppers 'N Sync and Destiny's Child are among the contenders for multiple awards, although many of the leading videos were achieved through collaborations.
Camera-shy electronic artist Fatboy Slim decided to leave the video performance to actor Christopher Walken. The result: A surprisingly graceful Walken dancing through a hotel lobby helped "Weapon of Choice" receive a leading nine nominations, including Video of the Year.
For some females, teaming up also created eye-catching clips. Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink, and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott compete for six awards including Video of the Year for the saucy "Lady Marmalade" remake on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.
Controversial rapper Eminem, who has drawn protests at other awards shows for his violent lyrics, is also competing for the top award. His tale of an obsessed fan, "Stan," features vocals from Dido's wispy "Thank You." Both hits are up for six awards.
Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On" completes the top category with veterans Janet Jackson and U2, who this year proved they remain among the best in the business.
Rising stars hoping for the title of Best New Artist feature a range of musical styles. The soulful Alicia Keys is among the most commercially successful in the bunch. She's nominated with the pop-punk group Sum 41, moody rockers Coldplay, singer Nikka Costa and folk-pop singer David Gray.
Keys and Gray are also noticed in the newly minted MTV2 category, profiling videos that gained a following on the second branch of the cable channel, which sticks to the network's original mission of just playing videos.