Beyonce stole the show before it even began when she announced on the black carpet that after more than three years of marriage, she and Jay-Z are expecting a baby. Dressed in a loose fitting, off-the-shoulder red-gown, she clutched the baby bump that so many celeb-watchers had been predicting since the two wed. Her publicist later confirmed the pregnancy to The Associated Press.
Later, Beyonce performed "Love on Top," and if Twitter hadn't already spread the news, her outfit gave clues to her impending motherhood; instead of her typical sexy outfits, she dressed in conservative spangled tux - but still danced around in her signature stilettos.
Beyonce didn't utter a word about the pregnancy, but ended the number by taking off her jacket and rubbing her swollen belly; in the audience, an elated Jay-Z hooted and clapped for his wife, as Kanye West hugged him.
In an instant, Beyonce and her soon-to-be child (Jayonce?) managed to overshadow the night's events. Lady Gaga's much-hyped opening number, during which she performed as a greasy, leather-jacketed male alter-ego during a performance of "You and I," became less interesting. So did the evening's meticulously planned wild moments, from Nicki Minaj's origami-like outfit to a dance-off between the members of Odd Future and Jack Black, Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen.
There was one apparently unscripted moment during Jay-Z's performance with Kanye West of "Otis," off their chart-topping joint album "Watch the Throne." Near the end of the song, someone tried to walk on the stage, but was quickly apprehended by a crew member as a bemused Jay-Z looked on. It was the second time Jay-Z had someone walk on unannounced during an MTV performance; two years ago, it was Lil Mama.
Britney Spears captured the night's first award, for best pop video, and later was honored with an MTV Video Vanguard award for her visual legacy. Lady Gaga, sticking to her gender-switch shtick, leered at Spears as she paid tribute to her.
"She's a pop music legend, and the industry would not be the same without her," Gaga said. "I used to hang pictures of her on my wall and touch myself when I was in bed."
Later, Gaga fished for a kiss, but as Spears leaned in, she quickly pulled back, reminding viewers, "I've done that before."
Other winners included Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, who won a trophy with West for her video "E.T."
"Now this is the time when you wanna interrupt me Kanye," joked Perry, referring to West's infamous intrusion of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech two years ago. Instead, West simply laughed and thanked God and "Katy Perry for being so brave for letting me on her record."
The show had no official host, though comedian Kevin Hart delivered an opening monologue and was featured in a series of vignettes during the show.
Adele had perhaps the highlight of the night as the seven-time nominee delivered a powerfully understated performance of "Someone Like You," off her top-selling "21" album. Chris Brown also wowed with an aerial number, soaring above the crowd in between high-stepping choreography. A tribute to Amy Winehouse by Tony Bennett was also planned.