Madonna Steals MTV Euro Awards

Once Madonna burst out of a giant glitter ball wearing a purple leather leotard with matching boots, it was obvious that – whoever won the MTV Europe Music Awards – the 47-year-old queen of pop had stolen the show.

Although the British music business appears to have spent the last two or three decades believing William Pitt’s “You cannot conquer America” remark, these MTV gongs celebrate what’s going on outside of the U.S.

As if to prove what the former prime minister said in 1777 still holds good, she launched into her new single (“Hung Up”) and most of the next day’s newspaper reviews of the event began by talking about her performance.

She also captured NME headlines with the last-minute announcement that she was to play London’s Koko November 15th, a venue that’s close to her heart. She played her first show at the club back in June 1983, when it was known as the Camden Palace.

With the Confessions On A Dancefloor album out a day earlier, the rumour stories of a 2006 tour have already started.

The few headlines she didn’t hijack trumpeted the fact that the U.K. took six of the 13 awards that the music channel’s 120 million European viewers could vote for online. It was worth a bit of fanfare compared to last year, when Muse was the only U.K. winner.

Finals night was a November 2nd extravaganza at Lisbon’s Atlantic Pavilion, which was screened throughout the continent. Coldplay grabbed a couple of headlines by winning best single (“Speed of Sound”) and best U.K. and Ireland act. They were nominated in five categories.

Robbie Williams won best male artist, Gorillaz won best group, The Chemical Brothers took best video (“Believe”), James Blunt was best new act, with the U.K. success being rounded off by Bob Geldof collecting the “Free Your Mind” award for humanitarian work.

Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, which also received five nominations, made technological history when the cartoon band’s appearance was claimed as the “world’s first 3D hologram performance.” Technicians used hologram technology to beam three-dimensional cartoon alter-egos of the band’s human artists on stage, instead of using screened silhouettes.

While the media attention was clearly focused on Madonna, very few papers paid much attention to the fact that U.S. rockers Green Day walked off with just as many awards as Coldplay.

Apart from best rock act, the band also had best album for American Idiot. But, Madonna aside, the U.K. media was intent on hailing the night as a British triumph.

As far as the live music industry is concerned, the 11-month-old X-Ray Touring was well clear of the field as half the awards went to acts on its roster.

The Helter Skelter / International Talent Booking offshoot scored seven times with Williams and Gorillaz (both represented by Ian Huffam), Green Day (Martin Horne), Coldplay (Steve Strange) and Black Eyed Peas, which took best pop act and is looked after by Scott Thomas.

For the first time, the awards included a category for best African act. The winner was Nigerian hip-hop artist 2 Face, whose real name is Innocent Ujah Idibia.

Other non-U.K. acts to pick up awards were Shakira (best female), Snoop Dogg (best hip-hop), System Of A Down (best alternative act) and Alicia Keys (best R&B).

– John Gammon