Maggie Mallon

Like most editions of the ceremony, the 2008 Video Music Awards left much to be desired.

The hype surrounding the ceremony seems to grow each year, but this year’s show, hosted by Russell Brand, was only mildly entertaining.

Britney Spears opened the show, looking much healthier than she did a year ago during her disastrous performance of “Gimme More.”

Sunday night was an attempt at redemption, and with all the buzz that surrounded her opening, everyone was expecting more than a bizarre comic sketch with Jonah Hill and a brief introduction to the events.

Since the night’s events were the 25th edition of the show, references to the first ceremony were thrown around.

Rihanna provided the first performance of the evening and displayed a brief homage to Madonna’s infamous performance of “Like a Virgin,” with choreography featuring her rolling around the stage.

Brand was an unexpected choice of host and only recently came into moderate U.S. celebrity with an appearance in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

He swaggered onto the stage, clad in a tight black ensemble and sporting a hairdo reminiscent of the Amy Winehouse beehive.

His monologue was overtly political and sexual and provoked the audience.

After starting by urging Americans to vote for Barack Obama, Brand quickly moved into ridiculing the Jonas Brothers for pledging their chastity and wearing purity rings.

When presenting an award, Jordin Sparks expressed her support of the Jonas’ choice of lifestyle and prompted Brand to apologize for his comments.

The artists given awards were not noteworthy, except for Spears’ trio of silver Moon Men.

The VMA voting committee must have consisted of Spears fanatics, because she swept all categories she was nominated for, including the first award of her career.

Spears won awards for Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year for her single “Piece of Me.”

The biggest draw to the show is undoubtedly the performances, and with this year’s awards taking place at the Paramount Pictures Studio, they were more theatrical than ever before.

In addition to Rihanna, the Jonas Brothers, Lil’ Wayne, T-Pain, Leona Lewis, Paramore, T.I., Christina Aguilera, Kid Rock and Kanye West performed.

While the Paramount lot should have added a unique element to the different outdoor performances of the night, the particular set used did little to enhance them.

The set featured Hollywood’s take on urban life, resembling streets in old New York City.

The performances were entertaining to watch, but some featured bizarre choreography and costumes.

Aguilera returned to the stage for the first time since giving birth but looked like she belonged in a German techno nightclub instead of on the VMA stage.

West closed the show with an uncharacteristically somber performance.

Despite all the press MTV devotes to its Video Music Awards, the audience has learned not to expect much from the show.

The show was a great excuse to get together with friends to ridicule the events unfolding on the stage but not something with any real entertainment value.

Better luck next year.