Beyonce won a hat-trick of awards at the 16th MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) at Berlin's O2 World Arena, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The ceremony was also notable for a third MTV EMAs honor for German pop-rock act Tokio Hotel - the band also won in 2007 and 2008 - and the live performance by U2 with Jay-Z as surprise guest in front of the Brandenburg Gate. An audience numbering over 9,000 in the arena witnessed a show lasting over two hours that provided a spectacular prelude to the celebrations marking the anniversary of German reunification.
Beyoncé was greeted with a standing ovations when, wearing a scarlet bodice replete with red suspenders, she emerged from a gigantic red box. She then went on to receive three awards, one for best singer, another for best song for "Halo" and the third one for best video for "Single Ladies." Visibly touched, she thanked her husband saying "there's only one person I want to thank and that's Jay-Z, who put a ring on my finger." Jay-Z won the award for best urban act, to which he responded: "I am looking forward to the time when all the walls fall and it's all only about music."
After performing their hit "World Behind My Wall" with twelve-meter high flame throwers behind them, Tokio Hotel went on to win the award for best group, beating Black Eyed Peas, Green Day, Jonas Brothers and Kings Of Leon. Host Katy Perry referred to Tokio Hotel as the best example of German reunification, explaining that all the band members had come from eastern Germany. Bill Kaulitz, the lead singer of Tokio Hotel, commented: "We had not expected to beat all these great bands. We are very proud and thank you for your love, energy and unerring support." Their fans in the audience at the O2 World responded with a deafening concert of screams lasting several minutes.
U2's open-air concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which was shown in the O2 World Arena, met with a very enthusiastic response and featured Jay-Z on "Sunday, Bloody Sunday." With a gigantic laser shower, it proved to be a gigantic declaration of love for Berlin. Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit commented: "What a spectacular concert!"
After the fall of the Wall, U2 had travelled to Berlin to record their "Achtung Baby" album in the Hansa Studios directly adjacent to the Wall. The album cover was illustrated with the Eastern Germany "Trabant" car. The single "One" became something of a "reunification anthem" in Germany. Speaking in German, Bono called out to the audience "Berlin, you're wonderful." Ten thousand people had received free tickets for the concert from MTV over the Internet. A light show projected parts of the wall onto the Brandenburg Gate, which was built over 200 years ago. The sign on the Gate bearing the words "No access" segued into the word "Freedom" complete with hearts. The audience applauded wildly when U2 played hits such as "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "One Love" and "One." After the concert, Bono accepted the award for best live act on behalf of U2.
The concert had attracted harsh criticism, however. As the local daily newspaper "Berliner Kurier" had written, "A free gift to the people of Berlin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall? That's what you think. Only 10,000 fans will be lucky enough to be there. Partitions have been set up blocking the view of the Brandenburg Gate and the entire area is cordoned off. Only holders of the coveted tickets are allowed in. Everyone else will be turned away. The fans are furious. A new wall has been constructed to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Is that someone's idea of a bad joke?" MTV Networks International issued a statement saying that it worked closely with its local promoter DEAG, the borough of Berlin and the Berlin Police department on security, explaining that the barriers had been set up to protect the shops in the surrounding streets. Said one Berlin local sarcastically: "MTV has continued the good tradition of our history with these barriers."
The other award winners at the Nov. 5 ceremony were Green Day for best rock band, Linkin Park for best worldwide live performance and Placebo for best alternative. MaNga from Turkey received the award for best European band. Pixie Lott got the first MTV Push Artist award. Lady Gaga, who with five nominations had been a favorite for a number of awards, went home with only one - for best new act. She did not come to Berlin in person but sent greetings by video. Similarly, Eminem, who won the best male artist category, was not present in person in Berlin.
Internet voters selected Silbermond, who also come from eastern Germany, as best German band. Said vocalist Stefanie Kloß: "We particularly appreciate this award as we were democratically chosen by the music fans on the Internet."
There was a long list of celebrity award presenters, including David Hasselhoff, who had landed a hit 20 years before with "Looking for Freedom." "That was the best moment in my life - aside from the birth of my daughter. I came back to say thank you," he said. Hasselhoff attributed the fall of the Wall to the Eastern Berliners' strong yearning for a normal life in freedom.
Other presenters included Backstreet Boys, Juliette Lewis, Jean Reno, Jonas Brothers, Lil' Kim and boxer Vladimir Klitschko.
Shakira, who performed "Did It Again," the bands Green Day and Foo Fighters and Leona Lewis were particularly popular with the audience. Presenter Katy Perry put on a brave face when she hovered on a trapeze above the audience, stretched out on a grand piano and lolled about on a sofa in a bodice. At the end of the show, sitting on a crescent moon high above the stage, she wished the audience a safe trip home.
German media certainly admired the occasion - the first time the EMAs has returned to a city for a second time, after Berlin hosted the inaugural event in 1994. German news magazine "Stern" gushed, "pop is saved."