2011 MTV EMA
Does size matter? Not for the streaker, and not for Belfast – the little city that throws a big party
Glitter balls, glamorous guests and GaGa, it could only mean one thing. After months of hard work and preparation, Belfast rolled out the red carpet for the star-studded MTV European Music Awards on Sunday night, while an estimated global television audience of six million viewers looked on.
It might have been the smallest city to host the awards, but what it lacked in size it made up for in enthusiasm. In the run-up to the main event, the excitement around Belfast was palpable, with MTV mania taking over as the countdown got underway.
On Sunday night, the week long Belfast Music Week programme climaxed with the glitzy awards ceremony at the Odyssey Arena, and two concerts partly broadcast live from the Ulster Hall and the City Hall, featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers and Northern Irish lads, Snow Patrol.
Up to 6,000 people, made up of MTV executives, sponsors, media representatives and music fans, packed into the Odyssey for the two hour show. Set designers took inspiration from the word 'odyssey' for the space-age stages: the first to facilitate the performing artists, the other, at the back of the arena, for presenters handing out the gongs.
The show kicked off at exactly 9pm, when Coldplay took to the main stage to perform 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall'. Before the show went live, frontman Chris Martin addressed the audience, encouraging them to make as much noise as possible. He needn't have worried: the 1,500 Belfast 'screamers' had been chosen specifically to do just that, and didn't disappoint.
Hostess for the night was baby-faced popstar and actress, Selena Gomez (pictured below), girlfriend of teen heart-throb, Justin Bieber. The 19-year gave previous presenters Christina Aguilera and Eva Longoria a run for their money in the fashion stakes, changing her outfit at least ten times. At one stage she stepped out in golfing attire, a nod to Northern Ireland's obvious talent for the sport.
US electro outfit LMFAO moved things up a gear when they arrived on stage in an explosion of glitter to perform 'Party Rock Anthem'. There were also performances from Bruno Mars, Jessie J, Gomez herself – whose sickly sweet pop tune saw this reviewer head straight for the bar – and young Bieber, who seemed to have shrugged off those worries over a paternity suit.
French DJ David Guetta also had a few tricks up his sleeve when he collaborated with Taio Cruz, Ludacris and Jessie J. Not surprisingly, however, the night belonged to Lady GaGa, who scooped four awards: Best Song ('Born This Way'), Best Video ('Born This Way'), Best Female and Biggest Fans.
The flamboyant fashionista, who changed her wacky costumes almost as many times as the show's presenter, debuted her new single, 'Marry The Night', sitting on top of a large moon sculpture. As she collected her Best Female award from Belfast's newest adopted son, David Hasselhoff, GaGa joked: 'I'm smiling, but you can't tell, because I've had a lot of Botox.'
While GaGa might have dominated the awards, there were also double gongs for Justin Bieber (Best Male and Best Pop), Bruno Mars (Best Push and Best New) and Thirty Seconds To Mars, who scooped Best Alternative and Best World Stage.
Like most awards ceremonies, it seemed the acts that bothered to turn up were the winners on the night. How else could you explain Katy Perry scooping Best Live Act? Perry was too tired to perform but flew in to Belfast to present the Global Icon gong to the band that first got her into music. So now we know we have Queen to blame for that.
Brian May and Roger Taylor collected the award and were full of praise for Belfast and its 'new beginning of peace'. The band, with Adam Lambert on board as vocalist, later treated the audience to a mash-up of some of their best loved songs: an undoubted highlight of the night and the perfect way to bring the curtain down on Belfast's biggest ever party.
There were a few cringe-worthy moments, of course. Some of the guest presenters should have stayed at home. WWE star Sheamus, for instance (it's OK, I've never heard of him either), got George Best and Calum Best mixed up when talking about the city's airport, while fashion designer Jeremy Scott was all style and no substance.
Then there was the awful moment when a streaker jumped on stage and the Odyssey audience held its collective breath. Thankfully it turned out to be a pre-planned stunt: it would be sad to think that could have been our MTV EMA legacy.
But no, it seems Belfast won't be remembered as the city where a naked man spoiled proceedings, but a city that knows how to throw a party. We might have been the smallest host, but as that streaker is well aware, size doesn't always matter.