Though he was on stage for less time than any other star at the VH1 Honors awards ceremony Thursday night, Michael Jackson still managed to take home the most prestigious trophy and, predictably, steal the limelight.
Jackson was among the six honorees at the second annual event at the Shrine Auditorium, a program that refreshingly skips your usual "best of" categories and recognizes musical entities for their charity work.
Also saluted were Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Annie Lennox, Vince Gill and the Red Hot Organization.
But they each just received a plain old VH1 Honors Award.
Jackson was honored with the brand-new "VH1 International Honors Award," the terms of which weren't really clear.
"You've given me so much, it's allowed me to take some of that love and pass it on to people whose problems in this world need and deserve our love," Jackson said during his brief acceptance speech.
The remarks followed Jackson's grandiose, surprise entrance, in which he came up from under the stage floor during Boyz II Men's performance of "We Are the World," the '80s charitable anthem that Jackson co-wrote.
While the other performers honored Thursday sang at least two full songs, Jackson only joined in for the final 15 seconds or so of the one song, took his award, and vanished.
This left room for the numerous musical highlights of the evening, most of which featured duets by the honorees and special guests.
"One of the things I've most looked forward to tonight was getting together and singing with friends," Houston said when she received her award for creating the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children. She then went into a soulful, tearful version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with CeCe Winans.
Houston was also one of the many, including Boyz II Men, Gill and Wynonna Judd, that kicked off the telecast with a series of Robinson's songs.
Lennox was the queen of the stage, though, displaying chameleon-like vocal talents with Robinson on his "Tracks of My Tears," and, then, with Herbie Hancock on Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye." Other duets included Midler with Judd, and Gill with Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating presented Gill with his award for helping victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. Other charity projects honored were Lennox's involvement with the Rokpa Trust, Boyz II Men with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, Robinson with the United Negro College Fund, Midler for the creation of the Manhattan Restoration Project.