There were no snakes, lesbian kisses or bizarre appearances by Michael Jackson. Instead, MTV played it safe at the 2006 Video Music Awards, held last night (Aug. 31) at New York's Radio City Music Hal

There were no snakes, lesbian kisses or bizarre appearances by Michael Jackson. Instead, MTV played it safe at the 2006 Video Music Awards, held last night (Aug. 31) at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Even host Jack Black mocked the event's ho-hum vibe of late, proclaiming, "This show's been laying farts for the past 20 years and I'm gonna light the match." Sadly, after a promising intro, the show's writers gave Black very little to do until a humorous late-evening argument, reconciliation and performance with his Tenacious D partner Kyle Gass.

Lil' Kim did appear fresh from prison (but in a business suit that was a far cry from the skimpy getups of her past), and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline lampooned their critically savaged reality show with a pretaped segment before announcing Beyonce's best R&B video win for "Check on It."

But if the show itself lacked the big wows of years past, several award winners were major surprises. The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shakira came in with a leading seven nominations each, but took home just one a piece. Upstart rock combo Panic At The Disco! bested both of them by winning video of the year for "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies," although the band's acceptance speech was marred by a stage crasher who somehow got ahold of the microphone.

In addition, Blunt beat out Kanye West, Nick Lachey, T.I. and Busta Rhymes for best male video with "Beautiful," while the All-American Rejects toppled the likes of the Chili Peppers and Gnarls Barkley for best group video with "Move Along." Avenged Sevenfold, which has been a band for eight years, still wound up taking home best new artist over Blunt, Chris Brown and Rihanna.

With two each, Blunt and Gnarls Barkley were the only artists to win more than one award. "You're Beautiful" also won for best cinematography, while Gnarls Barkley's summer smash "Crazy" won for best editing and best direction.

Other winners included the Black Eyed Peas for best hip-hop video with "My Humps," Kelly Clarkson for best female video with "Because of You," AFI for best rock video with "Miss Murder," Fall Out Boy for the Viewer's Choice award with "Dance, Dance," Pink for best pop video with "Stupid Girls" and Pussycat Dolls for best dance video with "Buttons."

Justin Timberlake opened the show with a medley of the new songs "My Love" and "Sexy/Back," the latter of which rocketed 31-1 this week on the Billboard Hot 100. Among the most entertaining performances came from rock act OK Go, who reproduced the treadmill dance moves of the homemade video for "Here It Goes Again," which has become an Internet sensation in recent weeks.

"It's amazing for a band like us to go from nowhere to the VMAs," frontman Damian Kulash said backstage. "I'm not sure how cool it would be to keep making videos just like this one but if we come up with another great idea, we'll make another cheap video."

Shakira conjured a Bollywood theme for her performance of "Hips Don't Lie," while Christina Aguilera sat alone for a powerful rendition of "Hurt." Ludacris ran through his new single, "Money Makers," in tandem with Pharrell Williams.

The Raconteurs served as the house band for the evening, interspersing songs from their V2 debut, "Broken Boy Soldiers," with performances of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" with Lou Reed and ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" with the group's Billy F. Gibbons.

Late in the show, West presented Hype Williams with the Video Vanguard award for his work on memorable clips starring the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey. "If you want to be No. 1, you gotta work hard, you gotta pray hard and you gotta get Hype Williams," West said. Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star than performed a snippet of "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," followed by Missy Elliott and Timbaland offering a similarly short version of "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)."