American acts conquer Europe at MTV awards

The rock band Muse became the only British group out of nine nominated acts to win a prize at the MTV Europe Music Awards last night, beating Franz Ferdinand to claim the best alternative group prize.

Robbie Williams, Jamelia, the Darkness, the Prodigy, the Streets, Dido, the Cure and Keane joined the Scottish art-rockers in going home empty-handed at the award ceremony in the Tor Di Valle on the outskirts of Rome.

Muse, a three-man band whose elaborate, complex soundscapes are often compared to Radiohead, have produced four albums to wide critical acclaim. The band, which closed the Glastonbury festival with a mainstage performance this year, said they were surprised at the win. Matt Bellamy, the lead singer, said: "We didn't even know we were nominated until yesterday, so this is great."

Asked backstage how they felt about American bands sweeping the board, he said: "There needs to be more European bands. That's all I'm saying." The ceremony drew protests from politicians concerned that the noise from the concert, which was broadcast to crowds of more than 200,000 at a separate event outside the Colosseum, would harm the 2,000-year-old monument.

There were touches of controversy inside the walls of the Tor Di Valle as wellas the evening's host, the rapper Xzibit, told the 6,000-strong audience that the event was broadcast to a potential worldwide audience of some one billion people in 156 countries, adding: "That includes at least 16 countries that George Bush isn't planning on invading."

Eminem, whose band D12 won best hip hop act, began the evening by performing his anti-Bush single, "Mosh", accompanied by children dressed in fatigues.

The rap star, himself dressed in combat gear, sang: "Strap him with an AK-47/Let him go fight his own war/Let him impress Daddy that way."

Outkast's Andre 3000 and Big Boi took away the most awards of the evening, winning best single and video for their acclaimed "Hey Ya!", as well as best group.

As he picked up the awards, Andre 3000 said: "I hope you don't get tired of us. We only do what we do."

The ceremony also proved a success for Britney Spears, who won best female, beating Beyoncé and Jamelia. She did not attend but sent a video message promising her fans that she was "there in spirit".

Usher, who has taken the R&B world by storm, won both best male act and best album for Confessions. His girlfriend, Naomi Campbell, presented his award. Dressed in a white flowing gown, she said: "It's a sad fact that in the world of entertainment, all too often the achievements of men are overlooked. It is women who succeed but there really are some talented men out there."

She said she was very proud of her partner.

Debates about the effect of the concert, which follows shows by Paul McCartney and Simon and Garfunkel at the monument, were held in parliament. Rome's archaeology superintendent, Antonio La Regina, told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that staging the concert in front of the Colosseum gave the city a "debased, exploited, commercialised" image.

THE WINNERS

Best group: Outkast

Best single: Outkast, 'Hey Ya'

Best male: Usher

Best female: Britney Spears

Best hip hop act: D12

Best new act: Maroon 5

Best R&B act: Alicia Keys (far left)

Best album: Usher, Confessions

Best rock act: Linkin Park

Best pop act: Black Eyed Peas

Best video: Outkast, 'Hey Ya'

Best alternative act: Muse

Best UK and Ireland act: Muse

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