Aug. 29, 2011— -- One of the most memorable moments from last night's MTV Video Music Awards happened when Lady Gaga, dressed as her male alter-ego Jo Calderone, appeared on stage to present the Princess of Pop -- Britney Spears -- with not one but two of the evening's biggest awards.
Britney took home not just the Video of the Year award for her single "Till the World Ends" but also the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
"It was really crazy. I had no idea what to expect," Spears told MTV News.
The Vanguard Award, also known as the Lifetime Achievement Award, is given to musicians who have made a profound impact on MTV's culture, and who have had the most acclaimed music videos in MTV history. Other recipients include the Beatles, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But Spears probably wouldn't be the megastar she is today without the help of Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, a 37-year-old music producer and songwriter, and his music-mixing magic.
He is one of the principal architects of "Till the World Ends," as well as many other popular tracks on Spears' album "Femme Fatale," released last March.
From Conway Studios in Hollywood, Gottwald has helped produce breakout hits for an impressive list of stars, including the Princess of Pop herself.
"She gets it done," Gottwald said of Spears in an interview with "Nightline" last February. "She's pretty focused when she gets in and records, and she sounds good fast, you know? She's a lot busier than I am, so she comes in and gets it done, and she's out."
With 23 No. 1 hit singles and two Grammy nominations under his belt, Gottwald is the most successful (and sought-after) hitmaker on today's pop music scene.
"I'm looking for voices that are distinctive," Gottwald said. "That's the most important thing to me. I mean, obviously, they have to be able to sing."
He has also shaped the "American-Idol"-bred barrage of Kelly Clarkson, the candy-coated track "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry, the polished punk rock of Pink and the intoxicating beats of Ke$ha. Time and again, Gottwald has proved that he knows the magic sound for what pop-music lovers crave.
"Maybe I just didn't mature or something," Gottwald joked. "I mean, I do have three sisters, and I think that has something to do with it. One of my sisters is 15."
The doctor is also a master at blending and mixing sounds together, as evidenced by one of his most popular productions: Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."
The song includes a mind-boggling 182 tracks, including guitar, an entire crowd of people for the chorus and, of course, Perry herself. But the producer told "Nightline" he doesn't just make music just for the fans. He said he has to think the song sounds good before it's released.
"I like to like it," he said. "I have to like it, otherwise it'd be weird."
Gottwald said he has been enthralled with music for decades. After studying jazz at the Manhattan School of Music, he spent 10 years as a guitar player in the "Saturday Night Live" house band. It was through this work that he became fascinated by the mechanics by which pop songs were built.
"The hardest thing, and the most difficult thing, is to do the most simple thing," he said. "Because that means that you've had to weed out every other option. I kind of feel like that about a good pop song, too. When it's right, it's perfect, you know?"
Gottwald also spent some time DJ-ing at New York City clubs, where he met Max Martin, the Swedish pop producer best known for his work on Britney Spears' breakout hit, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," in 1999. He joined with Max Martin again for Spears' other hit single, "Hold It Against Me," a song he said he found himself re-creating on the fly when Spears wanted changes.
"I don't want to disappoint people," he said, laughing. "Especially with an icon like Britney. You don't want to be the one who messed it up. Hopefully, I won't fail, you know?"
When asked what it was about pop music that made it all worthwhile, Gottwald said the songs were all about "feeling good."
"I wanna feel that way," he said. "I feel like if you can make music, and get people to, you know, evoke that feeling out of other people through writing songs, that's a pretty cool thing to do."