Irish pop singer Sinead O'Connor took the best video of the year honor and pushed aside Madonna to win best video by a female at the seventh annual MTV Music Video Awards on Thursday night at the Universal Amphitheater.
"I don't really know what to say, except thank you very much, and peace," said O'Connor, 23.
Madonna, whose stylish black and white "Vogue" video was a heavy favorite, instead captured the best direction statue for videographer David Fincher.
And in what proved to be an evening of unexpected winners, Michael Penn walked away with the new artist award for his densely written "No Myth" and the new wave group the B-52's won best group for their exuberant "Love Shack."
Penn, actor Sean Penn's brother, blew past critically acclaimed competitors such as Lisa Stansfield and Lenny Kravitz.
O'Connor won for her avant-garde "Nothing Compares 2 U," in which an unflinching camera closes in on her closely cropped head and does not let go, even when she begins to cry.
O'Connor created a stir last month when she threatened to walk out on an audience of 9,000 at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey if the state-owned facility played the national anthem before her show.
The center, which traditionally plays "The Star Spangled Banner" before performances, relented to prevent a commotion at O'Connor's show.
Billy Idol won for the "Cradle of Love" video adapted from the film "Ford Fairlane," M.C. Hammer won best dance video and Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" won for choreography.
Noted more for on-stage drawing power than historical significance, the MTV Awards were broadcast live on the Music Television cable channel.