The King of Pop returned to the stage and tried to recapture his youth with today's chart toppers, 'N Sync — one of the big winners at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Michael Jackson burst out of a giant Etch-A-Sketch as 'N Sync finished performing "Pop." Jackson flashed some of his signature dance moves. He looked a bit wobbly when he came out of some of his spins, but the surprise performance drove the crowd wild and earned Jackson a standing ovation.
"We want to thank Michael for coming out onstage with us, that was huge," said Justin Timberlake while accepting 'N Sync's award for Best Group Video. "He just made five fans very happy." The group picked up four awards, and will repay Jackson's favor by appearing at his tribute concert in New York this weekend. The top award of the night, Video of the Year, went to the female powerhouse collaboration "Lady Marmalade" featuring Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott.
Fatboy Slim came out the big winner, earning six moon men statues for "Weapon of Choice." The DJ, who left the performing to Christopher Walken, does not appear in the video. Just one of his awards was broadcast during the live event, leaving 'N Sync to appear the most anointed during the show.
Big arrivals and oddball fashions rivaled the awards for attention during the show famous for its spectacle.
Britney Slaves Over Her Performance
Timberlake's girlfriend Britney Spears made an equally noticeable appearance as America's most famous virgin again tried to prove she's no little girl.
She capped off the night emerging from a cage in a green bikini. She later danced with a huge light yellow snake while performing her new song "I'm a Slave 4 U."
Host Jamie Foxx said the act gave him "jungle fever," and warned Timberlake "you better not wait too long."
Spears' skimpy outfit was rivaled for attention by Macy Gray's shameless self-promotion. She wore a dark purple dress boldly advertising the release date of her new album.
Mudvayne picked up the first MTV2 award looking as if they had just returned from a war zone. The heavy metal act had fake bullet wounds on their heads, with faux blood dripping down their jackets.
Fatboy’s Winning Collaboration
Fatboy Slim headed into the VMAs with nine nominations, picking up six moon men. Collaborations and guest appearances proved the way to victory in many categories.
The "Lady Marmalade" remake also earned the sexy songbirds Best Video from a Film for Moulin Rouge.
The ladies traded thank you's during the acceptance with Pink giving props to "everyone who thought we'd make good whores."
Gwen Stefani helped two other performers find victory. Her duets scored wins in the categories of Best Male and Female Video.
Moby accepted his award for "South Side," saying it was her looks, not his, that gained a following for the song. "Without Gwen the video wouldn't have gotten shown in the first place," he said.
The No Doubt singer joined Eve onstage to pick up the pink-haired rapper's award for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." "This is so crazy, thank you everybody, stylists, makeup, thank you!" said Eve. Stefani added; "I'm just so stoked."
Equally surprised was Alicia Keys, awarded Best New Artist which previously went to Macy Gray and Eminem.
"I'm trying to be cool y'all," said Keys. "[But] I don't even know how to stand at the podium."
Tributes to Aaliyah, The Ramones
U2's vast career was honored when VJ Carson Daly presented the band with the Video Vanguard award. The Irish quartet ended their performance with a surprise addition — they brought out the Ramones.
"They lost Joey Ramone and I would like to give an award to the remaining Ramones," said Bono while paying tribute to the punk rockers for paving the way for so many other bands.
Earlier in the night, the performances were halted for an emotional tribute to 22-year-old R&B star Aaliyah who was recently killed in a plane crash. Janet Jackson, Elliott and Aaliyah's brother, aspiring filmmaker Rashad Haughton, spoke about her short but successful life. "On behalf of my family I want to thank her friends and her adoring fans who supported her throughout her career," said Haughton.
He ended his comments, saying "We love you, I love you," while looking upward.
With ABCNEWS Radio's Heidi Oringer, David Blaustein and Andrea Dresdale reporting from Lincoln Center.