The MTV Video Music Awards competed with Vice President Joe Biden’s convention speech Thursday night, offering Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas doing flips and rapper Lil’ Wayne stage diving.
MTV moved the East Coast broadcast of the Los Angeles show up an hour when programmers realized they would be up against President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech unless they ended the two-hour show by 10 p.m.
One Direction claimed the most screen time, winning three “Moon Man” trophies and performing their pop hit “One Thing” in the show. The UK boy band won for best new artist, best pop video and the “most shareworthy” video.
The 2012 version of MTV’s big show passed without a major faux pas, such as happened three years ago when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance of the best female video award to say it should have gone to Beyonce.
Beyonce lost again, this time to Nicki Minaj for her “Starships” video, but Kanye was not in the house to object this year, choosing to be in New York with girlfriend Kim Kardashian instead.
Rihanna, who also lost to Minaj, took the night’s biggest honor later in the show, winning video of the year for “We Found Love.” Rihanna opened the show performing a “Cockiness/We Found Love” medley with A$AP Rocky.
While Swift was left out of the trophy handouts, she did close the show by dancing and singing “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” and ending with a stage dive into the crowd.
Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend Chris Brown looked all business in a dress suit as he took the stage to accept the best male video award for “Turn Up The Music.” In winning, he beat hip hop rival Drake, who was also on the other side of an infamous bar fight earlier this year.
Host Kevin Hart joked about the Brown-Drake nightclub clash, telling both artists “Nip it in the bud, guys. I’m tired of it. Fix it tonight.”
Drake got his own “Moon Man” statue when his “HYFR” won for best hip hop video. That video “is about being me being black and Jewish,” Drake said in his acceptance. It was dedicated “to any kid that’s ever had a long walk home by yourself.”
Drake’s recording partners 2 Chainz and Lil’ Wayne got the Staples Center crowd on their feet with a rap performance that the television audience did not get to completely hear. The censor cut frequent expletives in their lyrics, leaving viewers to hear a song punctuated with frequent silent gaps.
Lil’ Wayne, who entered on a skateboard, ended with a dive off the stage.
In contrast, singer Frank Ocean delivered the most subtle performance of the night with a rendition of his “Thinkin’ About You.”
Other performances included P!nk doing aerial acrobatics as she sang and Green Day, who set a record for the most VMA performances with “Let Yourself Go.”
The “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics team took the stage to introduce Alicia Keys, who performed her newest song, “Girl On Fire,” with Minaj. Gold medalist Gabby Douglas did flips while Keys sang.
MTV gave the Twilight film franchise cast — minus Kristen Stewart — the stage to introduce a 90-second clip from “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.”
As the show ended — and presumably as most viewers prepared to change channels to see Obama’s speech — Hart put in a plug for them to take the time to vote in the election. “It’s in our hands,” Hart said.