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bands have no NRJ in France...
France – The energy was at full voltage last Saturday
night on the French Riviera at the third annual NRJ
Music Awards but not for U2, Westlife,
or The Cranberries.
Hosted for the second year running by French-Canadian
comedian Anthony Kavanagh, the annual awards
show, organized by the top pop radio station NRJ,
recognizes both francophone and international artists
by presenting them with awards voted for by fans.
The Palais des Festivals, home of the Cannes Film
Festival each May, saw Pop stars instead of Hollywood
actors climbing its legendary red-carpeted stairs.
audience was an array of stars, rowdy fans and industry
bigwigs, including Virgin magnate Richard Branson.
The stage saw a mix of some of the best French and
And although none of the Irish nominees – namely,
U2, Westlife and The Cranberries – took away any awards,
the night was rich in performances.
Spears opened the show with a performance of ‘I’m
a Slave 4 U’. Spears was slightly less dressed than
at September’s MTV Video Music Awards in New York,
where the hit single was the closing song of the ceremony.
in a skimpy green bikini top and skirt, she was color
coordinated with Kylie Minogue, who was also
dressed in the emerald color. The Princess of Pop
reappeared later in the evening alongside French singer
and ex-boyfriend of Vanessa Paradis, Florent
Pagny, to present the award for Best International
Male Artist to the self-proclaimed King of Pop Michael
“Merci à tous mes fans,” (“Thanks to all my fans”)
Dido said when she won the first award of the
evening, presented by Wonderbra model Adriana Karembeu
and French sports champion David Douillet.
it was the award for Best International Newcomer,
the same category from which her nomination was withdrawn
in the Brits. Apparently, Dido (pronounced Dee-do
in France) is a newcomer in France, as are other confirmed
artists and fellow nominees Usher, Mary
J. Blige and Westlife.
was a Top of the Pops à la française as a string of
performances by French pop artists mingled with those
of their international colleagues.
Jean-Jacques Goldman, who has written some
of Céline Dion’s most popular songs, delivered
the second performance, before leaving the stage to
Jean-Claude Van Damme and his antics. The Belgian
was introduced as a “big American actor”, mainly to
mock his forgetfulness of his native French language
ever since he hit it big in Hollywood.
notable French performance was that of Mylène Farmer
and Seal, who sang their hit single ‘Mots
d’Amour”. The French songstress later exploded the
applause barometer as she accepted the award for Best
French Female Artist.
artist who got the applause barometer up to an unusual
level was Kylie Minogue. A little more dressed – and
more tastefully dressed - than Britney, “Keelie” performed
her mega hit single ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’,
which continues to hold the top spot in the European
Halliwell was amongst those who applauded with
the most enthusiasm. A few minutes later, the former
Spice Girl picked up the award for Best International
Song for her cover of ‘It’s Raining Men’, beating
Michael Jackson’s ‘You Rock My World’, Shaggy’s
‘It Wasn’t Me’ and Dante’s ‘Miss California’.
formidable et vive la France!” But Geri wasn’t the
only one practicing her French. Cranberries singer
Dolores O’Riordan, who presented the award,
made good use of her school-level French.
practice, I try, I try,” she told the bemused audience
after uttering a few French phrases. Geri discovered
that her biggest fan base was probably in France,
judging from their enthusiasm while she sang a medley
of ‘Au Nom de l’Amour’/’It’s Raining Men’. It was
also raining condoms. Anthony Kavanagh, accompanied
by two ladies in red, distributed condoms to the audience,
while the red AIDS ribbon flashed on the screens.
The act was an effort to bring awareness and recompense
the cause with a sort of Free Your Mind award. French
singer and U2 fan Pascal Obispo did the honors.
As is the tradition of any awards ceremony, one particular
artist came out as being the grand slam winner.
French Canadian singer Garou, who made various
stage appearances throughout the evening – presenting
an award, singing, singing again – took away the most
trophies, including that of best website, beating
those of U2, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode,
Lenny Kravitz and Jamiroquai.
Child beat U2, Depeche Mode, Daft Punk
and The Cranberries in the Best International Group/Duo
category, presented by Latino heartthrob Enrique
Iglesias and Noémie Lenoir.
was beat again, this time in the Best International
Album category by Dido. The French preferred ‘No Angel’
to Jamiroquai’s ‘A Funk Odyssey’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’.
time, Dido’s French was limited to “merci”. She added:
“I don’t actually have enough French to accept two
awards.” She later gave the best performance of the
evening. Singing ‘Hunter’, she was perhaps the only
artist present who didn’t lip-synch.
memorable performance was that of the “légend” Mick
Jagger. The Rolling Stone came as a solo
artist promoting his new album.
No French awards ceremony is complete without a representative
of the rap/hip-hop scene, the most popular form of
music in the Hexagon. And who better than France’s
biggest rap export, MC Solaar? ‘Hasta la Vista’
was a prelude to the close of the evening, but not
a couple of more awards and the final performance.
MC’s girlfriend Ophélie Winter joined Seal
to announce the winner of the Best International Female
Artist. J-Lo beat all the divas - Kylie, Geri,
Madonna and Mariah.
swooning female fans and dancing audience members,
Westlife closed the show with ‘Uptown Girl’.