VMA: Highs and Lows, Ringtones and Clunkers

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Shakira shook her hips, Justin Timberlake showed us his "SexyBack," and unlike past years, no single artist dominated at the winner's podium.

But the evening lacked one of those notorious moments that have marked previous MTV Video Music Awards.

Madonna, Britney and Christina didn't lock lips. Eminem wasn't there to pick a fight with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

There was no Rage Against the Machine to rage against anyone.

Now that the show passes into our memories, what water-cooler moments did the 23rd edition of the show provide?

Which artists actually advanced their careers with Thursday night's victories and performances, and which ones did not?

What was worth talking about?

The High Points

OK Go -- The Chicago pop band's performance of "Here It Goes Again" -- the perfectly choreographed dance on a treadmill video -- became a hit by becoming the most watched video on YouTube, with more than 3 million hits. It thus became the first band whose video breakthrough had nothing to do with MTV.

Christina Aguilera -- Her return to the VMAs proved once and for all that the girl has superhuman vocal prowess and is in a league of her own. Smart enough to realize that she did not need pyrotechnics or stage wizardry, Christina belted a beautiful ballad and got a standing ovation.

The Raconteurs -- The most rocking house band ever showed why rock 'n' roll music is one of the greatest art forms. Joined by musical luminaries such as Lou Reed, Jack White of the White Stripes, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the house band kept the loopy festivities from turning into a train wreck. The best song interpreted by them was the appropriate "Internet Killed the Video Star."

Shakira -- Her performance with Wyclef Jean incorporated Latin and hip-hop elements with Middle Eastern and Indian sounds. This world-beat groove version of "Hips Don't Lie" confirms the Lebanese-Colombian artist's status as a true global artist with a long shelf life ahead.

Justin Timberlake -- JT couldn't have picked a better venue and a more appropriate day to debut his new single, "SexyBack." The track jumped 30 slots to land at No. 1 on the U.S. singles charts this week. His performance channeled the two musical giants of the '80s -- Michael Jackson and Prince. Twenty years ago, both were at the top of their game and never collaborated. Justin is the closest we'll have to that.

Ringtones -- Who would have ever thought that a ringtone would ever receive a VMA? This is the year that MTV decided to take the leap of faith into the digital realm. It is a known fact that its demographic is fragmented and no longer gets its music and music-related programming from the traditional TV set. This year's Ringtone of the Year: Ford Minor's "Where'd You Go."

Hype Williams -- This year's Video Vanguard Award gave honors to a true visionary. At one point, Williams directed 40 percent of the channel's videos in rotation. The late '90s and early 2000 belonged to Williams, and acts such as Diddy, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot owe him for turning them into video superstars. Finally MTV recognized one of the most talented creators of the art form that helped propel the channel to the stratosphere of television.

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