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BERLIN — This time it’s Berlin calling.
The MTV European Music Awards are coming to the German capital with an international cast, featuring performances by U2, the Foo Fighters, Shakira and Leona Lewis.
Berlin is the only city to host the awards show twice, in 1994 and on Thursday — a decision MTV said it made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9.
“This year’s EMAs is unique in having the theme of unity in addition to what we normally do — celebrating and playing the music,” MTV International’s CEO Bill Roedy told the Associated Press in an interview.
Legendary Irish band U2 will play a short set in front of the Brandenburg Gate before the awards show is held at the O2 World stadium. Tickets to U2’s performance were given away free online and were snapped up within hours.
U2’s concert is not only a historical nod to the significance to the Brandenburg Gate — which lies on the line that formerly divided East and West Berlin — but also a reflection of the band’s history. Their seventh album, “Achtung Baby” was recorded in Berlin in 1990 and their single ‘One’ was inspired by the fall of the wall and written on the eve of German reunification.
The EMAs feature 13 award categories with nominees from Europe, North and South America. Traditionally, many awards go to American artists who are also popular in Europe.
Last year’s EMAs were held in Liverpool, with Americans Britney Spears, Kanye West and Pink all taking home awards. There is also a Best European Band that went last year to Turkey’s Emre Adym.
This year’s nominees include newcomers like pop-act Lady Gaga and the English electro-pop duo La Roux, along with established acts like Green Day, Shakira and Jay-Z. Vying for Best European Act are Finnish rock group Deep Insight and Italy’s Lost, who beat out the Jonas Brothers this year to win the 2009 TRL Best Band award.
Music from the Western world was embraced by youth in East Germany before and after the fall of the wall.
“Everything that looked like a lively and vivacious culture was loved by East German youth because they felt a great yearning,” Frithjof Hager, a sociologist at the Free University in Berlin, told the AP. “They wanted to get out of the cruel, gray unhappiness of their country and experience the new and beautiful.”
The fall of the wall had major impact on Berlin’s creative scene, its mayor says.
“With the fall of the wall, Western energy and the creative and artistic impulses of the music scene in Berlin were set free,” Klaus Wowereit told the AP.
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