“Highlights” of the 2004 Video Music Awards held in Miami, which was by my made-up count mentioned 87 times.

Best Performance: Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, and… who’s that black guy who plays guitar? The “Are You Gonna Go My Way” guy?

Worst Performances: Hoobastank. Dude was so out of key he must’ve had to pick the lock to his apartment when he got home. And Jessica Simpson. By the way, her little sister Ashlee, who has, like, the number one album in the country, wasn’t dressed all hotly mall punk as usual. After realizing this, the rest of the program held no joy for me whatsoever.

Biggest Shaft: Longtime underground geniuses gone platinum Modest Mouse not only not winning anything, but losing to super-derivative Aussie garage penises Jet, whose girlfriends are ugly.

Best Unintentional Pun: “I gotta seminate these women!” quoth Omarion (I think it was him, my notes were pretty shoddy at this point), as he prepared to present the best female nominees for something by singing, not speaking their names. “Know what I’m sayin’?” Well, yes. Still, the word I think you probably intended, my r&b-singing friend, was “serenade.” “Just don’t hurt yourself!” replied the lady co-presenting with him.

The I Don’t Know What to Call It: Al Sharpton provocatively complaining to Jon Stewart about the lack of black artists in the viewer’s choice category, then saying, “I already voted for my girl Christina!”

Jessica Simpson: Hip
photo: Sony Music

Best All-Around People: Lil Jon and Christina Aguilera. Two words: Pimp juice.

Ugliest Outfit: Beyonce Knowles‘s gold hot pants and low-cut jacket thingie, designed by her mom.

Hottest Outfit: Like Jay-Z, Puffy, Usher, and Big Boi, Kanye West opted for a suit instead of some street-corner-ass XXX-large T-shirt. Close-fitting and black, with a radiant but not obnoxious pink tie and shirt, it actually appeared to be worth the money spent on it. And, as the pants and jacket were velvet, the outfit still said P.I.M.P.

Best Bit: Jimmy Fallon presenting with Queen Latifa. It was a stupid concept about Fallon stealing the announcer’s girl (something I’ve witnessed though not experienced in real life), but amusing nonetheless: “He’s one of the most talented people on television — if you measure talent by how much someone laughs at their own jokes!” The announcer also referred to him as “Captain Fart.” OK, you had to be there.

Most Disturbing But Sorta Hot Comment: Marilyn Manson (whose right eyelash was falling off) referring to having a “love child” with Mandy Moore.

Best Presenter: Gwen Stefani. Hott.

Biggest Sluts: The Bush twins. After Kerry’s conservatively dressed daughters scowlingly delivered their please-vote talking points, the twins, via satellite, repeated same but looked, of course, like they were about to kick off a Girls Gone Wild video. (You can just see it in their beady little eyes.) Incidentally, apparently because they weren’t LL Cool J, both sets of ladies were booed.

Biggest Male Slut: Usher, who stripped off his black ribbed muscle T as it — oh my! — rained onstage.

Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock: Knee-dy
photo: Piper Ferguson

Best Political Statements: Ad Rock urging kids to vote while prominently displaying his anti-“W” button, which was pinned to the corny green jumpsuits the Boys were wearing. (For a band so reliant on gimmicks, you’d think they’d have fresher ones.) P. Diddy making a big to-do about his “Vote or Die” campaign, which sure beats 50 Cent‘s “Do Whatever the Fuck You Want and Die” campaign.

Cutest moments: Jay-Z shouting “What up, B!”, after winning whatever award it was; Beyonce squeaking “What up, Jay!”, after winning whatever award she was up for.

Dave Chappelle Highlights: To the audience, which screamed nonstop when music wasn’t blaring: “Lemme ask you guys a question — what don’t you like?”; “I’d like to shout out my wife and kids”; presenting Jay-Z with his choice of fake Gucci watch from an African immigrant’s briefcase.

Jon Stewart Daily Show Break Highlight: “Now back to what I can only hope is more Hoobastank!”

Grand Finale: My girlfriend’s TiVo automatically quit recording after three hours, so I missed the end. Biggest shocker of the night.

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