"I want to challenge MTV right now to play more videos," Timberlake said while accepting the "Quadruple Threat" trophy, and later hammered home the point by bashing the Jessica and Ashlee Simpson-themed reality shows for which the network is well-known.
Beyonce took home the Earth-Shattering collaboration trophy for "Beautiful Liar," which features Shakira. Fall Out Boy won best group, while their proteges, Gym Class Heroes, won the fan-voted best new artist award. Fergie was named female artist of the year but was a surprising no-show to accept it.
In what was supposed to be a dazzling start, Britney Spears opened the show with a lethargic version of her new song, "Gimme More," her maiden major public appearance in the run-up to the Nov. 13 release of her first Jive album in four years. After emerging from a coin-operated booth, Chris Brown showed off his impressive dance moves during "Wall to Wall," all while dressed in a Charlie Chaplin-like getup. Rihanna then emerged in a black bodysuit and high heels for a run through "Umbrella."
Later, Timbaland, who served as the show's "maestro," introduced Linkin Park's laser-enhanced version of "Bleed It Out," and Alicia Keys unveiled her new single, "No One" which morphed into a cover of George Michael's "Freedom."
Performances were frequently teased from suites in the hotel, including West performing his new, Daft Punk-sampling hit "Stronger" and the T-Pain-assisted "Good Life" in a room filled with revelers in glow-in-the-dark glasses, Fall Out Boy playing "Thnks fr th Mmrs" and then trashing their equipment, 50 Cent rapping "Ayo Technology" with Timberlake and Foo Fighters rocking out with Cee-Lo on vocals for a cover of Prince's "Darling Nikki."
The show ran about 10 minutes past schedule due to its last performance, with newly blond Nelly Furtado's "Do It" shifting into Timbaland's "The Way I Are," Timberlake's "Lovestoned" and a few seconds of Timbaland's "Give It to Me."
One of the few true surprises of the evening was an appearance by legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, who has spent the past several years out of the limelight while working on his next album, "Detox." "'Detox,' it's coming, baby," he told the crowd. There was also a scuffle between ex-Pamela Anderson husbands Kid Rock and Tommy Lee, but details were still coming together as the show ended.
Producer/DJ Mark Ronson led the house band, which was fronted in the early going by Akon ("Smack That") and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine ("Wake Up Call").
MTV had insisted it was breaking from tradition by not rebroadcasting the VMAs, but a repeat airing came on immediately following the live show. The VMAs will also be available in a variety of "remixed" incarnations on MTV.com.
For more MTV VMAs coverage, visit the Billboard blog at JadedInsider.com.
Here are the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards winners:
Monster single of the year: "Umbrella," Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
Quadruple Threat award: Justin Timberlake
Earth-shattering collaboration: "Beautiful Liar," Beyonce featuring Shakira
Male artist of the year: Justin Timberlake
Female artist of the year: Fergie
Best group: Fall Out Boy
Best new artist: Gym Class Heroes
Video of the year: "Umbrella," Rihanna featuring Jay-Z
Best editing: Ken Mowe for Gnarls Barkley's "Smiley Faces"
Best director: Samuel Bayer for Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around … Comes Around"
Best choreography: Marty Kudelka for Justin Timberlake's "Let Me Talk to You/My Love"