It was a night of surprises at the MTV Video Music Awards. Rihanna‘s “We Found Love” won Video of the Year against favorite Gotye for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” It was the second win for Rihanna, who previously won for “Umbrella” in 2007. She is only the second artist to win this category twice, following Eminem, who won for “The Real Slim Shady” (2000) and “Without Me” (2002).
Despite her victory in the top category, Rihanna lost her Female Video bid to Nicki Minaj, pulled off an upset against both Rihanna and Katy Perry to win for her video “Starships.” It’s her first win and second nomination in the category.
Chris Brown won Best Male Video for “Turn Up the Music.” It’s his second win in the category, following “With You” in 2008. He upset the predicted favorite in the category, Justin Bieber, who won the category just last year. He also defeated Drake, with whom he has been embroiled in a heated public feud. Brown has enjoyed a comeback this year following his 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna, including a Grammy for R&B Album in February.
“Turn Up the Music” also won a technical award tonight: Best Choreography.
One Direction also pulled off an upset against Bieber; they claimed Best Pop Video for “What Makes You Beautiful.” The British boy band, who also performed their song “One Thing” during the ceremony, won two other things: Best New Artist and Most Share-Worthy Video, making them the night’s top winner with three Moon Men.
Drake didn’t go home empty handed. He and Rihanna both led with five VMA bids, of which Drake won one: Best Hip-Hop Video for “HYFR,” his collaboration with Lil Wayne. His victory prevented Kanye West, nominated twice in the category for “Paris” and “Mercy,” from finally winning his first award in the category.
Calvin Harris, who shared Rihanna’s Video of the Year award for his featured work on “We Found Love,” won another Moon Man: Best Electronic-Dance Video for “Feel So Close,” upsetting frontrunner Skrillex.
Skrillex’s video for “First Of The Year (Equinox)” didn’t go away empty handed, though. It won Best Visual Effects. Also prevailing in technical categories was M.I.A.‘s video for “Bad Girls,” which lost Video of the Year, but claimed Best Direction and Best Cinematography.