The 2012 American Music Awards raved lamely through its EDM-iest ceremony ever Sunday night (November 18), surprising none with its predictable performances and new crop of old winners. Justin Bieber took home the most trophies, winning in three categories: Artist of the Year (for the second time, after the 2010 AMAs), Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist (another title he won at the 2010 ceremony), and Favorite Pop/Rock Album for his third LP, Believe. The 18-year-old pop singer also took the stage for a double-header live set, delivering a stripped-down version of “As Long As You Love Me” and teaming up with Nicki Minaj for a smoky, strobe-lit take on “Beauty and the Beat.”
Minaj went solo to perform “Freedom,” a cut from her Pink Friday re-release, The Re-Up, but also stepped onstage to collect awards for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Minaj won both those statues at last year’s broadcast.
Usher once again nabbed Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, defeating Trey Songz and Chris Brown for the third year in a row. The fan-favorite opened this year’s program with a medley of tracks from his seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself. The slick seducer went “Numb,” then hit a “Climax,” and closed with “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” To round out the Soul/R&B group, Beyoncé won Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist and Rihanna’s Talk That Talk pulled down Favorite Soul/R&B Album — which is funny, because it’s neither of those two genres, but no matter.
Awards show-fixture Taylor Swift appeared to grab the Favorite Country Music Female Artist award and to lead a formal-wear rendition of Red single “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Fellow country crossover star Carrie Underwood treated audiences to a live version of “Two Black Cadillacs,” off her fourth album, Blown Away, which won Favorite Country Music Album.
Linkin Park not only played “Burn It Down,” off Living Things, but the California six-piece also claimed Favorite Alternative Rock Artist for the fifth time, after winning in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2008. Other big winners include Maroon 5, who won Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group; Lady Antebellum, who won Favorite Country Music Band, Duo, or Group; Carly Rae Jepsen won New Artist of the Year; Adele won Favorite Adult Contemporary Aritst; and David Guetta won the AMAs’ first-ever Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist award.
Non-nominees No Doubt, Ke$ha, Pink, Christina Aguilera, and PSY got some stage time as performers. No Doubt left out the offensive Native American headress for their performance of “Looking Hot,” but Ke$ha kept her Satanic cult for Warrior single “Die Young.” Chart-topper Pink wrapped her hands around a 200-pound muscleman during “Try,” from new album The Truth About Love, while Christina Aguilera ran through several Lotus cuts joined by a large, leotard-clad woman who bounced her breasts and broke into a split. Closing out the show was PSY, who went all “Gangnam Style” with help from MC Hammer.
What else? Stevie Wonder paid tribute to AMAs founder Dick Clark with a sampling of his hits, including “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” and “Sir Duke” (but not “Skeletons”). “I just remember his friendship, his kindness, and I remember his love for music and love for people,” Wonder said of Clark. “I challenge you, you as communicators, leaders, politicians, spiritual leaders, put your love first as we musicians put our music and songs first, and unite the world.”
Scroll down to see performances by Usher, No Doubt, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Pink, Linkin Park, PSY, Justin Bieber, and Stevie Wonder, along with the full list of winners.
- Artist of the Year: Justin Bieber
- Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Justin Bieber
- Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Katy Perry
- Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group: Maroon 5
- Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Justin Bieber, Believe
- Favorite Country Music Male Artist: Luke Bryan
- Favorite Country Music Female Artist: Taylor Swift
- Favorite Country Music Band, Duo, or Group: Lady Antebellum
- Favorite Country Music Album: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
- Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
- Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
- Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: Usher
- Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyoncé
- Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Rihanna, Talk That Talk
- Favorite Alternative Rock Artist: Linkin Park
- Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Adele
- Favorite Latin Music Artist: Shakira
- Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: tobyMac
- Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist: David Guetta
- New Artist of the Year: Carly Rae Jepsen