VMA: Highs and Lows, Ringtones and Clunkers

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.

Underdogs -- Chalk a major victory to those who few people thought had a chance of winning. Groups like Fall Out Boy (Viewer's Choice Award for "Dance, Dance"), Panic! at the Disco (Video of the Year for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"), AFI (best rock video for "Miss Murder"), All-American Rejects (best group video for "Move Along") and Kelly Clarkson (best female video for "Because of You") were long shots to win against multiple nominees Shakira, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna.

With odds stacked against them, the underdogs won the most coveted awards.

The Low Points

Just a few weeks ago, MTV celebrated its 25th anniversary and the milestone was overlooked at the show until baby boomer and former Vice President Al Gore alluded to the fact during his save the environment plea toward the end of the three-hour ceremony.

It seems MTV might be more than a little self-conscious about its age.

Turning 25 should be something to be proud of and should be celebrated, even if it means that most of MTV's audience was not born when "Thriller" premiered.

One of the greatest VMA moments was during 1984's ceremony (the first year of the awards) when Madonna slithered her way to superstardom while singing "Like a Virgin."

Ever since, her relationship with MTV has been a symbiotic marriage.

This year, Madonna received five nominations and was completely shut out.

To add insult to injury, her absence from the show went unnoticed.

Host Jack Black stated that the last 20 editions of the VMAs had been a fart fest and he promised to light a match and shake things up.

That was the last we saw of him for a while.

Whatever happened to the water-cooler show-introductory moments of the past?

Remember the Michael Jackson-Lisa Marie Presley lip lock or the Pee-Wee Herman "heard any good jokes lately" intro?

MTV would have scored major points if it had congregated recently separated Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson and Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra to appear together onstage.

After all, both marriages were done and undone under the glare of the MTV cameras.

Lil Kim's last memorable moment at the VMAs was when she was wearing a purple pastie.

Recently released from jail, she came out wearing an orange jumpsuit.

No disrespect to her and the time she served, but going to jail should not be something that should be applauded and admired.