(Reuters) – British boy band One Direction were the big winners at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, edging out Rihanna and taking home three prizes to crown their arrival on the U.S. pop scene just six months ago.
The five baby-faced guys, contestants on the British version of TV singing contest “The X Factor,” beat Justin Bieber and Rihanna for best pop video, and fellow all-boy British outfit The Wanted as best new artists.
They also won the most-shareworthy video award – which was voted on by fans – for their debut hit single “What Makes You Beautiful” and later performed their latest release “One Thing” to hordes of screaming girls at the two-hour Los Angeles ceremony.
“To win one Moonman is amazing, to win two is incredible,” said Harry Styles, as the band collected the silver VMA trophy for best new artists.
“Thank you so much! We have grown up watching this show and to collect one of these straight away is incredible,” said a jubilant Niall Horan.
One Direction, which is managed by British TV entrepreneur Simon Cowell, made history in March when it became the first UK group to see its first album, “Up All Night,” debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
Rihanna, who went into the VMA’s sharing a leading five nominations with Canadian rapper Drake, came away with just one award.
But it was the most coveted award of the night – video of the year – and the Barbados-born superstar won it for her dizzying visual romp in hit single “We Found Love.”
“I love you guys! This is awesome,” Rihanna told her fans as she collected the Moonman trophy and showed off a new pixie hair cut.
In a hip-hop-heavy show, rapper Nicki Minaj won best female video for “Starships,” while Chris Brown won two awards – best male video and best choreography for “Turn Up the Music.”
Drake also came away with just one win, for his hip-hop video “HYFR,” which celebrates his Jewish heritage. “I want to dedicate this award to any kid who has had a long walk home,” Drake said.
The VMA’s have become known as one of the more unpredictable and controversial award shows, but Thursday’s ceremony had none of the jaw-dropping moments – like the steamy 2003 Madonna/Britney Spears kiss – that have marked previous years.
This year, U.S. Olympic gymnastics champion Gabby Ross, 16, back-flipped and leapt across the stage while Alicia Keys sang her new single “Girl On Fire.” Ross and her four fellow team-mates also introduced Keys.
Punk rocker Billie Joe Armstrong seemed fully recovered from a weekend dehydration episode that forced Green Day to cancel a performance in Italy, and he was mobbed on Thursday while singing after inviting fans to come up on stage.
Lil Wayne gave the first televised performance of his new single “No Worries,” and Frank Ocean, who made headlines in July by coming out as a rare gay hip-hop artist, performed an emotional version of “Thinkin Bout You.”
Calvin Harris was the winner of the VMA’s first award in the increasingly popular electronic dance music category for “Feel So Close.”
Country-pop crossover singer Taylor Swift closed the show with her best-selling single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and other performers included Pink, Minaj, and Rihanna.
(Additional reporting by Courtney Garcia; Editing by Eric Walsh)