Katy Perry Wins Big, Beyonce Shines at VMAs

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Katy Perry / Beyonce (Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic, Perry; Kevin Winter/Getty, Beyonce)
Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

Girls run the world, Beyoncé declares in her recent hit, and in a sense, female stars certainly dominated last night's MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Even if one of them (Lady Gaga) was dressed as a man.

Katy Perry took home top honors, winning Video for the Year for "Firework" and sharing Best Collaboration with Kanye West for "E.T." Lady Gaga, in character the entire night as male alter ego Jo Calderone, won for Best Female Video and, in a non-televised victory, Best Video With a Message, both for "Born This Way." Adele nabbed the most moon men statues, picking up pre-ceremony trophies for Best Art Direction, Editing, Cinematography, and Direction for "Rolling in the Deep."

"Now is the time when you want to interrupt me, Kanye," Perry said to West as the two accepted their combined honors, a reference to the rapper's notorious stage-rushing during Taylor Swift's 2009 VMA acceptance speech for Best Female Video. Perry led in nominations this year with 10, but her rule was nowhere near as total as that of her predecessor. Last year, Gaga won eight trophies on a record 13 nominations.

The 2011 VMAs had no host, and appropriately, its big moments came from an ensemble cast. Britney Spears, who got the festivities started with a Best Pop Video win for "Till the World Ends," also received a Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for her lifetime of music video contributions. Also among the winners last night were Justin Bieber (Best Male Video for "U Smile"); Tyler, the Creator (Best New Artist, "Yonkers"); Nicki Minaj (Best Hip-Hop Video, "Super Bass"); and Foo Fighters (Best Rock Video, "Walk").

In keeping with the night's lack of one dominant winner, a few artists with multiple nods went home empty-handed, including Bruno Mars, Eminem, and 30 Seconds to Mars.

While Perry was the night's biggest winner, Beyoncé may have made the most news. "I want you to feel the love growing inside of me," she said as she performed "Love on Top," from new album 4; at the end of the lightly funky, 1980s-steeped song, she dropped the microphone and pulled open her sparkly purple jacket to reveal a visibly pregnant midsection. Looking on from the seats of the Nokia Theatre, West could be seen heartily congratulating the father-to-be, Jay-Z. Beyoncé also won a behind-the-scenes VMA (Best Choreography, "Run the World (Girls)").

If Beyoncé gave viewers girl power, Gaga made it her mission to remind everyone that gender is nothing but a social construction. Calling herself "fucking crazy" in an opening monologue, Gaga's black-blazered appearance — as Calderone — led Karate Kid actor Ralph Macchio to post on Twitter that comparisons between the two had made him one of the social networking service's trending topics.

Still as Calderone, Gaga provided the ceremony's first live performance when Queen guitarist Brian May joined her for "Yoü and I" from her 2011 album Born This Way. Later, presenting the Vanguard award to Spears immediately after a dance-off medley of Britney's video hits, Gaga/Calderone tried to make out with the teen-pop icon. Spears, referring to her 2003 moment with Madonna and Christina Aguilera, coyly declined, explaining, "I've done that already."

Only after accepting the Moon Man for Best Female Video from Cloris Leachman and the girls of Jersey Shore did Gaga let her Calderone mask slip ever so slightly, revealing larger themes when she said, with evident emotion, "It doesn't matter who you are — gay, straight, bi, lesbian, transgendered — you were born this way."

Other notable performances included Bruno Mars' tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, preceded by remarks from Tony Bennett and Perry's hubby Russell Brand; Lil Wayne's Auto-Tune- and expletive-laden closing one-two punch of Tha Carter IV's "How to Love" and "John"; and an unannounced appearance by West and Jay-Z rapping their Otis Redding-sampling Watch the Throne hit "Otis."

There was still more. Adele gave an unadorned rendition of her 21 ballad "Someone Like You." Chris Brown ascended to the rafters during a medley that included backing music by Wu-Tang Clan and Nirvana. Ne-Yo and Nayer joined Pitbull for their trance-pop smash "Give Me Everything." And Southern California rockers Young the Giant played their "My Body" to a throng of enthusiastic fans.

Check out performances from Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Adele below, and scroll down for a full list of winners.

Lady Gaga, "You and I"

Beyoncé, "Love on Top"

Bruno Mars, "Amy Winehouse Medley/Valerie"

Adele, "Someone Like You"

Video of the Year
Katy Perry, "Firework"

Best Male Video
Justin Bieber, "U Smile"

Best Female Video
Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"

Best New Artist
Tyler, the Creator, "Yonkers"

Best Pop Video
Britney Spears, "Till the World Ends"

Best Rock Video
Foo Fighters, "Walk"

Best Hip-Hop Video
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"

Best Collaboration
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."

Vanguard Award: Britney Spears

Best Direction in a Video
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

Best Video with a Message
Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"

Best Choreography in a Video
Beyoncé Knowles, "Run the World (Girls)"

Best Special Effects in a Video
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."

Best Art Direction in a Video
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

Best Editing in a Video
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

Best Cinematography in a Video
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

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