"Here's what I've learned, in five short words: Music is its own reward."Such was the lesson former schoolteacher-turned-international superstar Sting had to share as he accepted the Century Award at

"Here's what I've learned, in five short words: Music is its own reward."Such was the lesson former schoolteacher-turned-international superstar Sting had to share as he accepted the Century Award at the 2003 Billboard Music Awards last night (Dec. 11) in Las Vegas.

Presented by Stevie Wonder, whom he called "my teacher, my guru, my inspiration," Sting dedicated the honor to late Billboard editor in chief Timothy White and said, "I only hope I can live up to the acclaim."

The rewards of music were undoubtedly reaped by the fans watching the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, across which one top act after another performed throughout the two-hour show. After a brief skit by host Ryan Seacrest, the show kicked off with No Doubt's rendition of Talk Talk's "It's My Life," and showed few signs of slowing down as the night unfolded.

The Foo Fighters exploded with "All My Life," Pink writhed across a gigantic turntable as she sung "God Is a DJ" surrounded by a troupe of limber dancers and four-time winner Beyoncé delivered the sultry, yet empowering "Me, Myself & I," which she introduced by saying, "Ladies, I wrote this for you."

With his performance of "Send Your Love," Sting became the first of 12 Century Award honorees to perform as part of his acceptance. The track is taken from his eighth solo album, "Sacred Love" (A&M). In lieu of her acceptance for country artist of the year, Shania Twain also performed, belting out "She's Not Just a Pretty Face" while surrounded on stage by dozens of children.

R. Kelly, who took home four awards, rode through the arena in a red sled en route to performing his hit single "Step in the Name of Love." Earlier, Evanescence delivered the night's most dramatic performance with its hit "Bring Me To Life." Taking a cue from past Billboard Music Awards off-site performances, the group positioned itself amidst the discarded signage of Sin City in the Neon Graveyard.

Clay Aiken showed off the voice that has won him a legion of passionate fans by performing "Invisible." Immediately following his song, Aiken was given an award for best selling single of the year ("This Is the Night" / "Bridge Over Troubled Water"). "This is really a thrill to me," he said. "It's been an amazing year."

Along with performances, a light-hearted mood kept jokes flying from Seacrest, as well as some of the presenters. But the highest quotient of barbs came from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who was joined at the podium by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. Among those who felt the sting from the "Come Poop With Me"-plugging hand puppet were Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, Chingy, Sting and "American Idol"