Madonna nabs five MTV awards

'Ray' draws top nods

Madonna was the big winner at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, taking home five trophies during ceremonies held Thursday at the Universal Amphitheater. Will Smith, Aerosmith and Prodigy each scored a pair of the spaceman statuettes.

Madonna, the Maverick Records kingpin who went into the 15th annual ceremony with eight nominations, nabbed honors for the coveted video of the year and best female video for “Ray of Light,” the title track to her most recent album.

The music cabler fave also swept the professional categories — those voted on by industry insiders — with her “Ray of Light” vids landing best direction, choreography and editing nods, while the disc’s first single, “Frozen,” earned best special effects honors.

Winners are selected by more than 1,400 industry execs and select MTV viewers who receive ballots from the music cabler that are tabulated by Price Waterhouse.

Smith nabbed accolades for best male video and best rap video for “Just the Two of Us” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” respectively, tunes off his successful Columbia Records disc “Big Willie Style.”

The actor-comedian bested the likes of Eric Clapton, Brian McKnight and David Bowie in the male video category and topped rappers Master P, Pras, Busta Rhymes and the late Notorious B.I.G in the rap listing.

Aerosmith, whose video “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the “Armageddon” soundtrack has become a cabler staple, nabbed honors for best video from a film. The group’s “Pink” also took home the trophy for best rock video.

Prodigy, whom the cabler last year declared the vanguard of the techno movement (a musical genre that failed to significantly materialize), landed honors for best dance video for its “Smack My Bitch Up” track from its XL Mute/Maverick Records disc “Fat of the Land.” The track also earned the breakthrough video trophy.

Newcomer Natalie Imbruglia, whose “Torn” single has propelled her RCA Records disc “Left of the Middle” to sales of more than 1 million copies, picked up the best new artist in a video trophy; while Backstreet Boys won best group video honors for its “Everybody” vid off its eponymous Jive Records debut.

Wyclef Jean featuring the Refugee Allstars earned the best R&B video trophy, and Green Day went home with the best alternative musicvideo statute.

Best art direction and cinematography honors went to Bjork’s “Bachelorette” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” respectively.

The 1998 awards ceremony, hosted by actor Ben Stiller, moved to Los Angeles after two years in New York and boasted perfs from Madonna, Beastie Boys (who received the Video Vanguard Award), Dave Matthews Band, Backstreet Boys and Hole, among others.

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