Party time at MTV Asia Awards 2008

On a celebratory night of high fashion, glamour and exhilarating live performances, Malaysia finally got to savour the flavour of a star-studded MTV event as it played host to the MTV Asia Awards 2008 for the very first time.

While Singapore and Thailand have hosted the previous editions of the awards, Saturday’s glitzy event – held at the Arena of Stars in Genting – proved to be the perfect opportunity for Malaysia to step up and prove its credentials as a credible alternative. With the enthusiastic 3,000 strong crowd in fine voice, eager to show their appreciation and make plenty of noise, a carnival atmosphere flowed throughout the evening, confirming that Malaysians do indeed know how to let their hair down and party with the best of them.

Funny duo: Jared Leto (left) and KarenMok, hosts of the MTV Asia Awards 2008,charming the audience with their banter.

Celebrating its sixth edition, the pan-regional awards show saw a total of 18 international and regional awards given out on the night, including two surprise late additions to the awards list – the Knockout Award and The Inspiration Award – as voted by MTV Asia viewers across the region.

Jointly hosted by Hollywood hunk Jared Leto (frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars and actor of Panic Room, Alexander and Requiem for a Dream), and award-winning Hong Kong actress and singer Karen Mok, the awards show aimed to give recognition to international and regional artists for their musical achievements as well as providing a platform for exciting music collaborations in the region.

In short, it was time for Asia to rock ‘n’ roll ... MTV style!

The evening got off to a lively start courtesy of an attention-grabbing dance routine by Jabbawockeez, winners of the popular US TV show America’s Best Dance Crew. Busting out their signature moves complete with white masks and gloves, the dance crew managed to get party started in exciting fashion.

The decibel count in the audience was then raised several notches when the sexy, statuesque Pussycat Dolls took to the stage, looking every inch a sight for sore eyes. Kicking off with a sizzling rendition of their slinky slow jam Buttons, the girls also performed their latest hit single When I Grow Up for the very first time in Asia amidst plenty of fanfare and fireworks.

Maybe, the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony committee should thought about hiring these girls.

Back in Genting, the first award of the night went to the all-singing, all dancing, 10-member Korean boy band Super Junior for being voted Favourite Artiste of Korea. The boys received a roaring welcome when they returned to rock the stage with an energetic rendition of their hits Mirror and Thirst later in the evening.

Other regional award winners included Lee Yu Chun (Favourite Artiste China), Leo Ku (Hong Kong), Yovie & Nuno (Indonesia), Chicosci (Philippines), Show Lo (Taiwan) and TOR+ Saksit (Thailand). Elsewhere, Singaporean songbird Stefanie Sun bagged the Favourite Artiste Singapore Award for fifth time running (doesn’t Singapore have any new names?). On the local front, Chinese pop crooner Nicholas Teo beat off a strong challenge from four-time MTV Asia Award winner Siti Nurhaliza to clinch the Favourite Artiste of Malaysia award.

The Sarawak-born Teo has come a long way since grabbing the Astro Talent Quest title nearly six years ago. The 26-year-old has carved a name for himself in the Taiwanese pop scene and now this MTV Asia Award recognition is guaranteed to boost his career further.

Fab gear:Spencer Smith(left) andBrendon Uriefrom Panic atthe Discolooking goodand soundinggreat on stage.The band willreturn to KualaLumpurtomorrow for afull concert.So, you knowwhat is in storefrom theseguys

On the international front, Linkin Park proved as popular as ever with Asian music lovers as they took home the coveted Favourite International Artiste in Asia Award. The other international honorary music awards were presented to OneRepublic and Timbaland (Best Hook-up), 30 Seconds to Mars (Video Star Award) while The EDC Style Award was presented to Panic at the Disco for their impeccable fashion sense and sartorial elegance,

Gorgeous Brit singing sensation Leona Lewis, who is currently enjoying unprecedented success on both sides of the Atlantic with her blend of smooth R&B, bagged the Breakthrough Artiste award while her English counterparts Radiohead, deservedly walked away with the Innovation award. Muse, another British act, also found themselves among the winners with their 2007 Asian Tour being awarded the Bring Da House Down award. It’s a sign that the Brit music scene is making an impact in Asia.

Among those presenting awards on the night were Dave, Jaclyn Victor, Joe Flizzow, Leo Ku, Miguel Chavez, Moots from Pop Shuvit, Pussycat Dolls, Show Lo, Electrico and Stefanie Sun. Guest presenters MTV veejays Denise Keller, Juju, Mike and Utt caught everybody off guard when announced the first surprise of the night – the Knockout Award – which was given to the artiste who has successfully captured the hearts of young music audiences in Asia. Power pop quintet The Click Five floored the rest of their competition to swoop this brand new award.

The second surprise addition was the Inspiration Award, which was presented to co-host Mok for her achievements in the music and film industry as well as her dedicated efforts in promoting social and humanitarian causes.

In between all the award presentations, there were plenty of top-notch live (or mimed in Super Junior’s case) performances to savour. Keeping the arena buzzing with their heartfelt performance,

US pop rockers OneRepublic, fronted by the multi-talented singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder, roused the crowd with stirring renditions of their signature tunes Stop and Stare and Apologize. Elsewhere Irish newcomers The Script almost stole the show with an impassioned performance of their single The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.

But in the end, the night belonged to the angelic-voiced Leona Lewis who lived up to all her hype by singing her two hit singles Bleeding Love and Better in Time like her life depended on it.

Sugar rush: (from left) Joe Guese, Joey Zehr and Kyle Patrick from the US power popquintet The Click Five thrilling the audience with their sweet tunes at the MTV Asia Awards in Genting.

Playing the local card to good effect, The Click Five worked with traditional Malay kompang players to give a local twist to their medley of hits Empty and Jenny.

Asian music took centre-stage when Project E.A.R (East Asian Revolution) unveiled their very first performance as a group. Their debut consisted of a medley of songs performed in five different languages from the region and fusing various genres of music including rap and rock. Comprising members from Ahli Fiqir (Singapore), Pop Shuvit (Malaysia), Saint Loco (Indonesia), Slapshock (Philippines), Silksounds (Thailand) and Thaitanium (Thailand), this was an Asian collaboration that succeeded in bringing the noise.

Singaporean acts Electrico and Stefanie Sun also got swept up in the spirit of collaboration, teaming up for a medley comprising Save Our Souls, a song specially written by Electrico to raise awareness to the humanitarian relief for disaster victims in Asia, and Ni Guang, one of Sun’s biggest Mandarin hits.

The night ended with a bang courtesy of quirky emo kings Panic at the Disco’s barn-storming finale.

Performing their two biggest hits – I Write Sins, Not Tragedies and Nine in the Afternoon – the highly visual performance was a blast with marching band, acrobats, showgirl dancers and lots of confetti.

Minor quibbles like poor live sound quality (not so much from the performers but from the presenters’ podium) aside, Malaysia’s MTV Asia Awards debut turned out to be a memorable occasion. Roll on next year.

Repeat telecast of the MTV Asia Awards will be shown on Astro (Channel 713) throughout the week.