Hips Don't Lie: MTV Adds Black Humor to Video Music Awards

As MTV celebrates its 25th year as the ultimate barometer of youth culture, the network that revolutionized TV viewing is at a crossroads, besieged by such new media "it darlings" as MySpace.com, YouTube and the ubiquitous iPod.

"I am Jables, hear me roar," says 34-year-old host Jack Black, using his nickname. "Prepare yourself for a ripsnortin' humdinger."

Through the years, artists like Duran Duran, Madonna and the King of Pop became global superstars, thanks to the medium and the marriage of sound and vision, which changed the music industry forever.

Today, although music is no longer front and center and videos are no longer a groundbreaking novelty, MTV's annual Video Music Awards, or VMAs, are undoubtedly the network's version of the Super Bowl.

Shakira, a multiple nominee, will be shaking her hips, and she's part of an impressive lineup of performers that includes Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, the Killers, Ludacris w/Pharrell, the All-American Rejects, Panic! at the Disco, T.I., the Raconteurs and OK Go.

Presenting duties will be handled by the ubiquitous Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Axl Rose, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Pussycat Dolls, LL Cool J, Diddy, 50 Cent and Sarah Silverman, with the not-so-sedate Black serving as ringmaster of this wild circus.

VMAs: Music's Ultimate Popularity Contest

Unlike the Grammys, the VMAs are the ultimate popularity contest. This year's VMAs, at Radio City Music Hall on August 31, will be one heck of an end-of-summer fest featuring some of the most popular acts of the moment.

Leading the field in the VMA nominations is "Hips Don't Lie" -- Shakira's ode to her anatomy -- and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' rock history flashback "Dani California," with seven nominations each, while veteran VMA momma Madonna and rock newcomer Panic! at the Disco scored five nominations apiece. The tamed-down Christina Aguilera nabbed four.

Videos from all five acts are competing for the all-important Video of the Year honor. Below is a list of the most buzzed about categories, and here's how the competition shapes up:

Video of the Year

Christina Aguilera -- "Ain't No Other Man"
Panic! at the Disco -- "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"
Madonna -- "Hung Up"
Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "Dani California"
Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean -- "Hips Don't Lie"

The nominations are a microcosm of what's hot and happening in pop culture right now, and as much as Madonna revolutionized the video format and the Chili Peppers scored the ultimate comeback of the year, the winner here is Shakira, whose "Hips" has become the most played and downloaded song this year. She'll be "shaking away" from her peers a couple of Moonmen on Thursday night.

Best Male Video

James Blunt -- "You're Beautiful"
Nick Lachey -- "What's Left of Me"
T.I. -- "What You Know"
Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx- - "Gold Digger"
Busta Rhymes/Lloyd Banks/Mary J.Blige/DMX/Missy Elliot/Papoose & Rah Digga -- "Touch It"

Kanye and Jamie's "Gold Digger" set the bench mark for creative collaborations, while Nick Lachey is still trying to find his place in his post-Jessica Simpson world with his autobiographical "What's Left of Me." Meanwhile, James Blunt, the most un-MTV-looking Brit crooner, scores what will probably be the most-played song at weddings for decades to come, and he should be a shoo-in to win Best Male Video.

Best Female Video

Christina Aguilera -- "Ain't No Other Man"
Kelly Clarkson -- "Because of You"
Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland -- "Promiscuous"
Madonna -- "Hung Up"
Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean -- "Hips Don't Lie"

Who says sex sells? The five nominees who will be battling in what has become the most contentious category. The year belongs to these ladies (and guests) who scored major hits and made videos that created major buzz when they received airplay. If someone can snatch the award from Shakira, it's Nelly Furtado with "Promiscuous," the undisputed song of the summer of '06.

Best Group Video

All American Rejects -- "Move Along"
Fall Out Boy -- "Dance, Dance"
Gnarls Barkley -- "Crazy"
Panic! at the Disc -- "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"

If there is a video that deserves an award for catchiest song of the year it's "Crazy," by eclectic duo Gnarls Barkley. The duo made history earlier this year by scoring the first-ever No.1 single available only on downloads. The psychedelic '70s-looking video deserves an award for its creative direction, and its three noms should do the trick.

Best R&B Video

Beyoncé featuring Slim Thug -- "Check on It"
Mary J. Blige -- "Be Without You"
Chris Brown -- "Yo! (Excuse Me Miss)"
Mariah Carey -- "Shake It Off"
Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris - "Unpredictable"

Beyoncé's comeback kicks off at the VMAs and is followed by her long-awaited CD release "Bday" (September 5), while Mariah Carey is still working and enjoying her mega successful "Emancipation" comeback. These ladies will have an uphill battle wrestling away the Moonman from Mary J. Blige, whose "Be Without You" has become an instant classic.

Best Hip-Hop Video

Black Eyed Peas -- "My Humps"
Common -- "Testify"
Daddy Yankee -- "Rompe"
Three 6 Mafia -- "Stay Fly"
Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx -- "Gold Digger"

"My Humps" shattered the notion that the Black Eyed Peas were a fluke, while Three 6 Mafia's surreal win at this year's Academy Awards made them hip-hop royalty overnight. Daddy Yankee single-handedly became the poster child of the "reggaeton" music movement, but this category belongs to Kanye and Jamie -- the hottest duo in hip-hop today.