The statuette for best music awards show host in 2011 should go to comedian Kevin Hart. He was a major bright spot during BET Awards '11 (June 26) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. In between Hart's shenanigans-including a hilarious reality show spoof "The Real Husbands of Hollywood"-Chris Brown danced away as the night's top winner with four awards, including best male R&B artist and best collaboration for "Look at Me Now" featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes.
Other major winners included Rihanna (best female R&B artist), Nicki Minaj (best female hip-hop artist), Kanye West (best male hip-hop artist), Diddy-Dirty Money (best group), Wiz Khalifa (best new artist) and a tie between siblings Jaden and Willow Smith for the YoungStars Award. Mary Mary won best gospel artist while Tinie Tempah was named best U.K. international act.
Leading the nominees list with six nominations, Brown was also among a lineup of performers who turned in ovation-worthy performances. Starting out solo on "She Ain't You," Brown was joined by Busta Rhymes on a rousing rendition of "Look at Me Now." Then Brown's signature footwork took center stage on "Paper Scissors Rock." After winning best collaboration for "Look," Brown let the song's featured guests, Rhymes and Lil Wayne, do the talking, admitting to audience laughter that "public speaking ain't my strong suit." Brown also returned to the stage with newcomer Big Sean on the latter's "My Last."
Opening the show was Mary J. Blige who ripped through a set with Anita Baker, DJ Khaled and Jadakiss hat included "All Night Long," "Real Love" and "Caught Up in the Rapture." Jill Scott tantalized the audience with a stirring performance of "Roliing Hills," a track from her new album, with actor Idris Elba. Also bringing the audience to its feet was Kelly Rowland, who performed her hit "Motivation" with Trey Songz.
Alicia Keys, celebrating the 10th anniversary of her debut album "Songs in A Minor," brought best new artist nominee Bruno Mars onstage to help sing "A Woman's Worth" and introduced her new song "Typewriter."
Rick Ross, Ace Hood and DJ Khaled energized the room with "Hustle Hard" as did Ross and Khaled with Drake and Lil Wayne on "I'm on One."
Beyonce closed the proceedings with "Best Thing I Never Had" and "End of Time" live via satellite from the Glastonbury Music Festival in the U.K. In a reversal on Beyonce's Billboard Music Awards performance, dancers inside the Shrine gyrated in synch with the singer and her dancers on the U.K. stage.
This year's special award honorees were syndicated radio personality/author Steve Harvey, presented with the Humanitarian Award, and Patti LaBelle, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dressed in silver and black and wearing a black wig reminiscent of LaBelle's storied hairdos, Cee Lo Green strutted his way through "Somebody Loves You Baby."
Also paying tribute: Marsha Ambrosius on "If Only You Knew" and gospel legend Shirley Caesar on "You Are My Friend." Accepting the award from fellow R&B pioneer Gladys Knight, LaBelle delivered with gusto the hits Love, Need and Want You" and "Lady Marmalade."
Noting at the top of the show that it was his responsibility to make sure everybody had a ball, Kevin Hart didn't disappoint. He started out by admonishing artists like Fabolous ("lose the sunglasses; we're inside now) and Sean "Diddy" Combs ("I'm sick of the nicknames"). His best bit: brief episodes of a mock reality show, "The Real Husbands of Hollywood," featuring himself, Bobby Brown, Nelly, Jermaine Dupri and Nick Cannon. In fact, one viewer asked fellow tweeters to retweet her message if they thought the bit should actually become a reality TV show.
Despite the highlights, there were a couple of stumbling blocks. A surprise appearance by '80s R&B stars Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal performing their hit "Saturday Love" failed to ignite owing to O'Neal's underwhelming vocal. And the Coca-Cola Viewer's Choice winner was initially announced as Chris Brown, then Rihanna and then Drake, who came out to accept the award, noting, "This is awkward." However, after a commercial break, it was confirmed that Brown was indeed the winner for "Look at Me Now."