The most shocking aspect of the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards? That would be the lack of shocking moments at the show, held for the first time at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Chocked with stars, including Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Drake, Lil Wayne, Green Day, fun., Wiz Khalifa and others, the Kevin Hart-hosted affair ran largely by the book, with a mix of goofy gags, performances and a smattering of awards (One Direction, notably, won three).


The night opened and closed with Rihanna, who kicked off the festivities with a thumping split performance of “Cockiness” featuring A$AP Rocky, and her megahit, “We Found Love.” At the end of the night, her gritty clip for “Love” snagged Video of the Year honors. “I love you guys, this is awesome.”

Host Kevin Hart entered with a dud of a joke, accompanied with a security detail comprised of little people. “I told MTV I wanted a little security. They took it literally.” He called out previous host Russell Brand and the Drake-Chris Brown during his spit-fire opening monologue. “MTV is the place for mistakes.”


The first award given during the telecast, Best Pop Video, went to One Direction for “What Makes You Beautiful.” Presenter Katy Perry accidentally broke off the Moonman’s flag when handing it to the guys, but quickly made up for it by giving the guys a peck. “Katy, thanks for the kiss. We’ve grown up watching this show. To be here is incredible.” They later performed new single “One Thing” and later still solidified their status as the hottest new group in pop by winning Best New Artist. During the pre-show, “Beautiful” also won Most Share-Worthy Video.


Live sets came from P!nk, who performed “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” currently No. 11 on the Hot 100, and Frank Ocean, with an affecting take on his emotional “Thinkin Bout You.” Green Day represented the rock with a run-though of “Let Yourself Go,” off “Uno!” 2 Chainz sang “Yuck!”


Alicia Keys played the original version of her single “Girl on Fire,” with an able assist from Nicki Minaj and a moment-of-the-night cameo by U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, who did a bit of light tumbling during the tail end of the performance. It was all smiles from the all-around gold medalist at last month’s Olympics.


The show actually saved the best performance for last with Taylor Swift and huge ensemble of friends and furries dancing in an anthemic fist-raising TV debut of her recent Hot 100 No. 1 “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”


Other winners went to Chris Brown, a magnet for controversy, who went the subtle route with his acceptance speech for Best Male Video (“Turn Up the Music”), thanking fans and management in brief comments. Brown’s sworn enemy, Drake, got a bit more personal when accepting Best Hip-Hop Video, for “HYFR.” The Canadian rapper said growing up black and Jewish informed the song’s message. “I wanna dedicate this award to to any kid who’s had a long walk home by himself,” he said while surrounded by Young Money cohorts Lil’ Wayne and Nicki Minaj.


Pre-show awards went to Demi Lovato, whose “Skyscraper” earned the nod for Best Video With a Message. She was soon performing her most recent single, “Give Your Heart a Break,” which tops Billboard’s Pop Songs chart this week.


Calvin Harris, the night’s DJ, won Best EDM Video for “Feel So Close.” Conveniently, the super-producer (Rihanna’s “We Found Love”) had his Moonman while he was pumping the beats inside the Staples Center.


Unlike last year, when the red carpet was actually inside (and thus, air conditioned), this year the press line was housed in a custom-built, double-decker structure. The talent had to run the gauntlet outside, starting with MTV in the first position and then winding their way down the second level, before descending to the first floor. Then after that, the red carpet picked up on the hot asphalt in the street between the Nokia Theater and Staples Center, where it winded through a sea of bloggers and fans.


It didn’t carry the same WOW-factor as last year’s big red-carpet pregnancy news (Beyonce), but Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose announced to (your boy) Sway that they were expecting their first child. “I’m hot and my feet hurt,” the model said.

Video of the Year

Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris — “We Found Love”

Best Male Video

Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music”

Best Female Video

Nicki Minaj — “Starships”

Best New Artist

One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”

Best Pop Video

One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”

Best Rock Video

Coldplay — “Paradise”

Best Hip-Hop Video

Drake feat. Lil Wayne — “HYFR”

Best Electronic Dance Video

Calvin Harris — “Feel So Close”

Best Video With a Message

Demi Lovato — “Skyscraper”

Most Share-Worthy Video

One Direction — “What Makes You Beautiful”

Best Director

M.I.A. — “Bad Girls”

Best Choreography

Chris Brown — “Turn Up the Music”

Best Visual Effects

Skrillex — “First of the Year (Equinox)”

Best Art Direction

Katy Perry — “Wide Awake”

Best Cinematography

M.I.A. — “Bad Girls”

Best Editing

Beyonce — “Countdown”

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