Rock fans wouldn't necessarily think of 1992 as "Van Halen's year." Yet the veteran hard-rock group fended off such contenders as U2, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in walking away with the most honors--three--at Wednesday's MTV Video Music Awards, on the strength of a smart, engaging video that far outclassed those even by more momentarily essential acts.
Van Halen's almost artsy "Right Now" clip, which featured a succession of thought- and smile-provoking non sequiturs printed on screen against offstage footage of the band, won for best video of the year. It also picked up honors for its direction by first-timer Mark Fenske and its editing.
Picking up two statuettes each were Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (for alternative video and new artist), U2's "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (group video, special effects) and the Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" (breakthrough video, art direction).
Other winners: Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" (male video), Annie Lennox's "Why" (female video), Arrested Development's "Tennessee" (rap), Metallica's "Enter Sandman" (metal/hard rock), Prince's "Cream" (dance), Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (video from a film), Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" (cinematography) and En Vogue's "My Lovin' " (choreography).
A viewers' choice award, voted on by viewers during the telecast, went to the Chili Peppers. The honorary Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which is not voted upon but awarded corporately by MTV, was presented to Guns N' Roses--prompting the group's singer Axl Rose to quip, "And, oh yeah, this has nothing to do with Michael Jackson. Thank you."