J-Lo, Usher heat up French pop awards in Cannes

CANNES, France (AFP) – Pop diva Jennifer Lopez and rhythm and blues sensation Usher lit up the stage in the French Riviera town of Cannes at the 2005 NRJ Music Awards, France’s flashy answer to the Grammys.
But performances by some of the biggest names in international pop music largely eclipsed the presentation of the awards. And as for fashion statements, white was clearly the color of the night.

Lopez, sporting a sultry white tuxedo with black lapels, electrified the youthful crowd with the first live performance of her new single “Get Right”, off her upcoming album “Rebirth” — a dance anthem sure to be a club classic.

Usher — decked out from head to toe in white, including his diamond stud earrings — swaggered through his monster hit “Yeah!”, eliciting screams from the women in the audience with his hip-thrusting dance moves.

The king of American R&B, nominated for eight Grammy awards, dominated the charts in 2004 with “Confessions,” the year’s top-selling album in the United States with nearly eight million copies sold.

Keys, a five-time Grammy winner nominated for eight statues this year, delivered a powerful rendition of “If I Ain’t Got You.” She followed the A-list dress code with a white trouser suit.

Other winners included US hip-hop group Black Eyes Peas, which took home top honors for best international album with “Elephunk.” British pop quartet Blue won for best international group or duo.

French-Canadian pop star Roch Voisine took home the award for Best Francophone Male Artist.

NRJ is one of France’s most popular radio stations, and more than five million listeners cast ballots in 13 categories — six French-language, six international and the video of the year — ahead of Saturday’s ceremony.

Irish rock band U2 received a special career achievement award. The group was originally scheduled to perform, but frontman Bono told reporters that one of the band’s members was attending to a sick child.

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