Alicia Keys’ might have named her latest single and album ‘Girl on Fire’, performing the track on Sunday night at the MTV European Music Awards, but if anyone lived up to that moniker, it was Taylor Swift, the girl who took home three awards.
Swift was the second-highest nominated artist after an absent Rihanna, who failed to pick up a single prize in the fan-voted awards, now in their 19th year. At Frankfurt’s aptly-titled Festhalle (Party Hall), a massive complex in the centre of the city, Swift was named best female, best live and best look, shuffling off with three of the heavy globe-shaped gongs before closing the show with a spectacular pyrotechnic version of ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’.
“This is unreal,” she gasped, after walking from the central celebrity seating area to the podium where Lana Del Rey waited with her award, her first EMA ever. “This was our first time touring in Europe. Thank you for giving me another reason to come back.”
Having later run out of ways to express her delight at winning yet again (“This is the coolest night,”) she thanked fans in German.
The EMAs returned to Frankfurt after 11 years, with a German hostess: model and TV presenter Heidi Klum, who had on Saturday said the teleprompter made her nervous. She stumbled (over her words, not her trapeze) a couple of times during the circus-themed show but her six Versace-designed costume changes rivalled Katy Perry’s hosting of the awards four years ago and she managed to get two nearly naked men onto the stage for a spanking. “The made me do it, it was in the script,” she said, before taking her Teutonic wrath out on the second man in chaps. “That one wasn’t in the script.”
This was one awards ceremony where there was no risk of falling asleep — the fast-paced show barely paused for breath from the moment Rita Ora opened the event with a performance of RIP to Swift’s closing song. It was heavily scripted, as it needed to be in order to air live to people in dozens of countries, and hence lacked sincerity somewhat, especially in a rather baffling Whitney Houston tribute which had One Direction and Steven Tyler struggling for valuable nuggets of musical insight about her.
The best unscripted moment came when Justin Bieber won his first of three awards, Best Male, which drew as many boos from the crowd as it did applause. He also took home Best Pop and Best World stage, thanking fans by a prerecorded video. The other teen favourite, One Direction, followed in awards, with the Biggest Fans award and Best New Act. They were also not at the event. Carly Rae Jepsen, however, made sure she was in Frankfurt to pick up her first international gong since the release of the infectious ‘Call Me Maybe’, taking Best Song and Best Push awards back to Canada with her.
Other winners present were Lana Del Rey, who was given her Best Alternative award in an underwhelming off-stage presentation; surely she deserved better treatment for ‘Born To Die’; and Chinese pop star Han Geng, who thanked fans for the votes which made him Best Worldwide act, beating Morocco’s Ahmad Sultan, the Mena region candidate.
Kim Kardashian, in a dress by Stephane Rolland, the Jonas Brothers and German pop favourite David Hassellhoff presented awards, while the EMAs lived up to their reputation as a top music event with performances from Muse, Rita Ora, No Doubt, The Killers, Muse, Pitbull and of course, Korean superstar Psy, who ‘lost his international virginity’ at the event by winning his first international award for best video. He had around 50 dancers dressed in his trademark skyblue blazer on stage to perform his hit ‘Gangnam Style’ — after appearing in a video with Klum showing she’s got the horse-riding move down pat.
The video link got plenty of use, with David Guetta (Best Electronic) and Linkin Park (Best Rock) and Nicki Minaj (Best Hip Hop) accepting their awards while away.