Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Panic! At The Disco to rock MTV Awards

Justin Timberlake is on a mission to bring sexy back to MTV's Video Music Awards, which return to the Big Apple Thursday night after a two-year excursion to Miami.

Timberlake, who has the No. 1 song in the country with "SexyBack," was expected to kick off the show. Other performers include Beyonce, The Killers, Panic! at the Disco, and, for the old-timers who still watch MTV, Lou Reed.

Though the MTV Awards have never lacked star power  last year, Diddy acted as host and stars ranging from Eva Longoria to Jessica Simpson and then-hubby Nick Lachey squeezed themselves into the spotlight that water-cooler MTV moment has not materialized recently.

There was no same-sex smooching a la Britney and Madonna (at least not on camera). No barely there outfit that remains scorched in the public memory. And except for the inexplicably wacky R. Kelly performance of "Trapped In the Closet," which he lip-synched with mock-drama, and a little 50 Cent-Fat Joe beefing on stage, the show ran pretty much like any other awards show. Which is not what we have come to expect from the VMAs.

It was unclear if any major surprises were in store this year. Madonna, who has provided some of the VMAs' best moments over the years, was nominated for five trophies for her "Hung Up" clip, but it was not known if she would attend.

Still, the VMAs should have more intentional laughable moments this year. Comedian Jack Black was acting as host, and his band, Tenacious D, was slated to perform.

As far as the reason behind the evening the video nominations  Shakira and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the top contenders, with both garnering seven nominations for "Hips Don't Lie" and "Dani California," respectively.

Besides Madonna's "Hung Up," the nominees for video of the year include Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man"; "Dani California"; "Hips Don't Lie"l and Panic! At the Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," reports AP.