Hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were the surprise winners Sunday for Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards in a show with a heavy dose of Justin Bieber.
In a field that included superstar Taylor Swift, who had the most nominations of the night, the Seattle-based duo won for Best Video with “Downtown.”
“I had no idea we were going to win an award,” Macklemore told the gala ceremony in Milan.
“We’re not on a major label; we don’t have a big budget. What you guys give to us, we give back to you in the art we make,” Macklemore said, referring to fans.
The duo, best known for their 2012 gay equality anthem “Same Love,” shot the video for “Downtown” in Spokane, Washington, showing street life as Macklemore shops for a moped and leads a street parade.
Superstar Justin Bieber, whose long-awaited album fourth album “Purpose” comes out next month, appeared in a red jumpsuit as he performed his new hit “What Do You Mean?” driven by a mellow electronic beat.
The Canadian singer also won the award for Best Male and hinted that he was happy to win attention for his music, not his legal troubles or often turbulent personal life.
“Thank you, it’s been a long couple of years. I just feel that this is pretty awesome to be recognized for my music,” Bieber said.
Best Video is determined by MTV’s editorial team, but most categories are decided through fans’ voting.
Other awards including Best Song were yet to be announced.
Conceived as an alternative to the US-based MTV Video Music Awards aimed at international fans, the ceremony has often been dominated by North American stars.
MTV Europe gave out a number of awards aimed at non-English-speaking audiences.
Singer Marco Mengoni of host country Italy was named Best European Act and Brazilian singer Anitta won for Latin America.
Diamond Platnumz, a star of bongo flava, the Tanzanian hip-hop genre that has found a growing international audience, won in a category for Africa and India.