Recording artist Lady Gaga won two awards and provided a double shot of her trademark edgy, eccentric stage theatrics at Sunday's MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto — but it was a surprise appearance from teen-pop star Justin Bieber that really sent fans into a frenzy.
Bieber wasn't promoted as one of the evening's guests, but the 17-year-old from Stratford, Ont., seemingly couldn't resist coming out to support his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, the Disney-reared actor and singer who hosted the outdoor bash.
The couple may have shared a kiss at the Billboard Music Awards a few weeks ago, but on Sunday they shared the spotlight, inspiring a screaming throng of teens that clogged downtown Toronto streets all day.
"I want to say thank you so much to all my fans, you guys are amazing," Bieber said as he accepted his first award of the evening, international video by a Canadian, which he shared with Toronto rapper Drake.
"I love you Toronto."
All that PG-rated sweetness stood in stark contrast to the boundaries-testing raunch conjured by Lady Gaga, the outlandish pop provocateur who tried to top her MMVAs performance from two years ago.
Back then, Lady Gaga took the stage for a medley of her hits with a gaggle of barely dressed dancers and a large model of a New York subway car. After much carefully choreographed weirdness, she closed that evening by posing with a metal bustier shooting sparks into the night air.
The five-time Grammy winner began this year's show with a relatively tame take on her new single The Edge of Glory, during which she scaled a three-storey fire escape clad in a studded leather jumpsuit, her hair coloured bright turquoise.
Her closing performance, however, got a tad hairy. Singing Born This Way, Gaga emerged from a plastic cocoon clad in an elaborate outfit of black feathers. She soon shed that and strutted around the stage with tufts of fake bright blue hair positioned under her arms and over the crotch of her black pants.
She finished the performance cavorting with her dancers under a shower of purple goo.
Still, the singer struck a different tone as she accepted her second award, the UR Fave international artist trophy. Her voice hushed, she remembered the date — Father's Day — and paid tribute to E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died Saturday night.
"Oh my gosh, thank you so much," she said, clad in a revealing black dress. "I love you so much, little monsters in Canada. This award was the most important one to me because it's from you. You are so beautiful."
The three presumed front-runners heading into the show — pop R&B singer Shawn Desman, local pop-punk howler Fefe Dobson and youthful rap-rock outfit Down With Webster — each claimed one award out of four nominations apiece, with Desman winning video of the year for his slinky come-on Electric/Night Like This.
Other winners included Vancouver dance-punk outfit You Say Party, former So You Think You Can Dance contestant Blake McGrath, Toronto rapper JDiggz and hard-edged Toronto rockers Abandon All Ships.