Even though the American Music Awards have always lived in the imposing shadow of the Grammys, there was a time, back when Dick Clark truly ran the show, that the awards meant a little something and even fostered events such as We Are the World.
But now they’re just a glorified People’s Choice Awards (*see Explanation of Convoluted Voting below).
Anyway, for those who care, Taylor Swift was the big winner with three AMAs (Artist of the Year, Best Country Female Artist and Country Album). The excitable country princess said one of the smartest things of the night to her fans…she thanked them not only for remembering her lyrics, but “for caring about lyrics.”
In a year of “Party Rock Anthem”s and various will.i.am virtual concoctions, she makes a valid point.
The show aired live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. A list of winners is at the end of this post, but first, let’s take a look at some high and low lights.
Let’s Make a Deal Award: Dear Maroon 5. Congrats on your first-ever American Music Award. I’m sorry it wasn’t for one of your decent songs, like “This Love” or “Makes Me Wonder,” but if it had to be for the worst song you’ve ever recorded, how about this: Now that’s you’ve won an award for and performed the ingratiating “Moves Like Jagger” on the AMAs, how about I never have to hear it again until the Grammys?
Who Knew The Jetsons Were Still Cool? Award: To Justin Bieber, for his Elroy-esque space suit getup during “Under the Mistletoe.” At least there was something to distract from his strained performance of the weakest track on his otherwise solid Christmas album.
The Why Oh Why? Award: So Chris Brown is a blond again. Wasn’t a good look the first time. Hasn’t improved this time. But hearing him sing for once (“All Back”) instead of being Auto-Tuned into the ground was…oh, wait, there it is, the inevitable electronic vocal manipulation on “Say it With Me.”
Most Sincere Acceptance Speech: For those ready to throttle Taylor Swift the next time she feigns shock at being popular, let’s all appreciate J. Lo for acknowledging her publicly tumultuous year: “It’s been up and down and exciting and overwhelming and so many things…I’m grateful for all of my blessings.” She then delivered a portion of her speech in Spanish – fitting, since her award was for Best Latin Artist. That almost makes up for…
Most Egregious Product Placement: Surely someone will want to make a trunk joke about that car (I refuse to name the brand) that turned J. Lo’s performance into an unnecessary obstacle course. Personally, I’d like to “Drop Dead Diva” it and wake up looking like J. Lo. But, more importantly…honey, it’s just shameful that you can’t even properly lip-sync “la la la la la la la.” Paging Britney for some lessons!
Most Hilarious Display of Artist Aggravation: Enrique Iglesias motioning to turn down his ear monitor before yanking it out of his ear. Darlin’, do you seriously think anyone is listening to your voice? You’re eye candy. The end. (Oh, and hi, Ludacris!)
Best Performances By Artists Who Actually Sing. In Key.: Kelly Clarkson, God bless you. Not only did she look classy in a shape-enhancing red dress, Clarkson also showcased her artistry with a swing version of “Mr. Know It All,” complete with standup bass. You could almost hear Simon Cowell saying, back in the days when he wasn’t forced to say nice things because he’s responsible for the financial future of a talent show winner, “You took a risk tonight and it paid off.”
Also worthy of praise was Katy Perry’s vulnerable rendition of “The One That Got Away,” though the cotton-candy hair was a tad distracting. Perry also was awarded an achievement AMA for being the first female artist to score five No. 1 singles from one album.
Most Painful Performance(s):
OneRepublic finally has a song that isn’t completely cringe-inducing (“Good Life”) and Ryan Tedder sings it as if his vocal cords are tied in a bow.
Then there was the assembly of will.i.am, J. Lo and, inexplicably, Mick Jagger (via video, though that doesn’t excuse his participation) on “Hard.” What was going on there? Glow-in-the-dark J. Lo, a monotonous, robotic chorus…I can’t be the only person to find that whole performance a steaming heap of garbage. Am I?
2011 AMA Winners
Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift
Favorite Country Album: Taylor Swift, “Speak Now”
Favorite Pop or Rock Male Artist: Bruno Mars
Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Adele
Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyonce
Favorite Latin Artist: Jennifer Lopez
Sprint New Artist of the Year: Hot Chelle Rae
Favorite Female Pop Artist: Katy Perry
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj‘s “Pink Friday”
Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group: Lady Antebellum
Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Rihanna‘s “Loud”
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Favorite Country Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group: Maroon 5
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns (from Atlanta)
*Explanation of Convoluted Voting: This actually makes “The X-Factor” make sense by comparison, but here’s the deal, straight from the source. Get our your abacus:
American Music Awards nominees are selected from both BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart and Mediabase. The Ultimate Chart is a ranked list of the most popular artists and songs based on a weighted combination of music sales, radio and TV broadcast, internet streaming and video viewing, and incorporating additional online metrics, including activity on social networks. Mediabase monitors more than 1,800 radio stations in 180 U.S. and Canadian markets, 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and provides vital airplay and programming information to more than 1,700 affiliate radio stations and every major broadcast group. Winners are chosen by public vote online.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene blog
Follow me on Twitter: @ajclifestyle