Setting a record with nine nominations, Taylor Swift was expected to sweep the awards. But it was someone else who stole the show on Sunday evening in Milan.
Winning in the Best Song category for "Bad Blood," recorded with rapper Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift walked away with only one prize. The show definitely belonged to Justin Bieber.
For the evening of October 25 in Milan's Mediolanum, the Canadian superstar probably clocked up the most mileage, not only performing his song "What Do You Mean" but stepping onstage five times to take his awards, including Best Male and Biggest Fans.
During the first 30 minutes of the spectacle, fans voted for their favorites by hashtag on Twitter - and in the end, Bieber edged out the British boy band One Direction. The remaining prizes were determined by online voting, which ended Saturday evening.
Big show, big glamour
As in earlier years, no costs were spared for elaborate sets, lighting effects and a powerful sound that gave an extra boost to appearances by artists including Pharell Williams, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Jason Derulo and Justin Bieber.
The audience reacted with long screams and wild applause to every nomination and every performance. Along with many highly-produced pop songs over electronic beats, Englishman James Bay contributed some variety in a rock sound with his rendition of "Hold Back the River."
There were two MCs: the highly popular songwriter Ed Sheeran and the Australian model Ruby Rose. Sheeran shared the stage with the London quartet Rudimental and took two prizes himself. Rose stood out for her nonstop wardrobe changes, a longstanding EMA tradition.
Italy = pizza and pasta
Most of the speakers greeted the audience with "Ciao, Milano," while tennis star Novak Djokovic spoke a few more words of Italian when delivering the Best Hip Hop award.
Italian clichés abounded, with Ruby Rose donning a spaghetti dress and, in a video, receiving a pizza-shaped tattoo with the MTV logo. To round it off, she concluded her hosting with a plate of spaghetti on her lap.
With his hit "Con Te Partiro" (Time To Say Goodbye), star tenor Andrea Bocelli made an Italian connection that went beyond pizza and pasta jokes - later to awkwardly cover Pink's "Learn to Love Again" together with young singer Torri Kelly.
Lena leaves empty handed
Winners in the category World Wide Act were selected from among the national winners on various continents. Germany's candidate Lena (whose full name is Lena Meyer-Landruth) was unable to repeat her successes of 2011 and 2013.
This year the trophy went to Italy and to pop singer Marco Mengoni, who won the 2009 round of the TV casting show "X Factor." With the candidates at the national level all sending their greetings by video, the international effect of the awards show was limited.
Otherwise British and American artists were in command, making some wonder again just how European the MTV Europe Music Awards are, apart from the venue.