And who should emerge as one of the evening's top winners? Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake, 22, the only male nominee for best
Christina Aguilera, also 22, was named winner for best video, for "Dirrty."
Timberlake also was in the running for the best album award, which was carried off by 50 Cent, who also took awards for best hip-hop and best single for "In Da Club." The rapper (real name: Curtis Jackson) arrived seconds before the event kicked off, surrounded by 10 bodyguards whose faces were covered by bandanas.
An expected no-show because of a concert across town later in the night, 50 Cent was dressed in a flashy all-white suit and drew cheers from the shocked audience before winning three consecutive awards right off the bat. "I thank God for blessing me with the talent to win this award," he said.
Big Brovaz, a six-piece group from London, claimed the award for best newcomer and also tied with Punjabi MC in a joint award for UK act of the year.
Guitarist and singer George Benson won a lifetime achievement award and funk band Kool & The Gang won an outstanding achievement award.
Performers included Lumidee, Seal, Redman and DMX, celebrating his first performance on a London stage. The highlight of the evening, however, was a supercharged performance from the Black Eyed Peas, who performed their No. 1 single, "Where is the Love."