TORONTO — Nickelback took home the most hardware, but provocative electro diva Lady Gaga was the talk of the MuchMusic Video Awards on Sunday.
Just a few months after dominating at the Juno Awards, Nickelback nabbed a leading three trophies in front of thousands of frenzied fans at an award show that also featured appearances from the Jonas Brothers, Black Eyed Peas and such teen-approved celebs as “Twilight” actors Taylor Lautner and Montreal’s Rachelle Lefevre.
But it was Gaga who stole the show.
Showing some serious imagination — even while clad in a studded one-piece that left little to it — Gaga performed a surreal medley of a remixed version of “LoveGame” and “Poker Face” during the indoor-outdoor streetside show.
Billed as a tribute to New York, Gaga began the performance trapped inside a fake subway car — which she later exploded with a stick of pyro dynamite — and followed with a raunchy setpiece that featured fake police officers (they later stripped), gyrating, leather-clad dancers and finished with Gaga posing with sparklers shooting from her bustier.
While the screeching throng outside MuchMusic headquarters on Queen Street West was clearly agog for Gaga, they also heaped plenty of love on the Jonas Brothers, who co-hosted, performed twice and won the “UR Fave” people’s choice award for international video of the year for “Burnin’ Up.”
Fans began lining up for the show as early as 6 a.m. ET on a hot, sticky Toronto day. By mid-afternoon, an imposing queue of determined teens went all the way around the block.
“This is crazy,” marvelled reigning “Canadian Idol” champ Theo Tams as he walked the red carpet. “I thought the Junos were crazy but this is madness!”
There were some typically over-the-top entrances.
Toronto R&B crooner Danny Fernandes cruised onto the red carpet on a shiny red motorcycle, while Vancouver pop-punk band Marianas Trench was preceded by a full marching band before arriving in a pickup truck adorned with pink and red balloons and streamers.
And while many guests honoured Father’s Day by giving thanks to their dads, Billy Talent took it a step further by bringing their fathers onto the red carpet.
“All the dads are here, we were trying to dress them up just like us today,” said drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, whose band took home the award for best international video for a Canadian group for “Rusted from the Rain.” “We’re making it into a family event.”
Otherwise, the usually splashy show mostly lacked a signature shocking moment — in other words, no one mooned the camera Avril Lavigne-style or zipped around on a stolen wheelchair a la Blur’s Damon Albarn.
In fact, Nickelback didn’t even flinch when they were presented with their first award moments after exiting a mammoth black SUV and stepping onto the red carpet.
“Just for showing up?” asked frontman Chad Kroeger, whose Hanna, Alta., band took home awards for best video, best rock video and best post-production for “Gotta Be Somebody.”
“This is great, I’ve never gotten out of a vehicle and had someone say: ‘Here you go.”’
The Black Eyed Peas didn’t go home empty-handed either, winning for their ubiquitous electro-inflected anthem “Boom Boom Pow,” which they also performed.
Surrounded by dancers in skintight zebra-print costumes, the veteran group incited the crowd into a rousing singalong of the infectious chorus, while Kelly Clarkson’s powerful, no-frills performance of “My Life Would Suck Without You” stood as a reminder of why she was the first-ever winner of “American Idol.”
Regina pop-punk singer Shiloh started her performance in a red telephone booth, while St. Catharines, Ont., hardcore group Alexisonfire closed their performance by launching bright pyro into the crisp night sky.
In addition to her eye-popping performance, Gaga also captured the audience’s attention with a candid speech after accepting an award early on for best international video by an artist for her provocative hit, “Poker Face.”
“You guys make it so hard to love anywhere else,” the eccentric 23-year-old said before hoisting the trophy in the air and saying: “To God and the gays!”
Appearances from Lautner induced the expected feverish shrieks — one fan wore a homemade cardboard hat with Lautner’s picture and a plea for an autograph — while Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin provided a surprising moment when asked how he would celebrate winning a MuchMusic award, he effortlessly hoisted VJ Tim Deegan over his shoulder.