This year's American Music Awards telecast is expected to be bigger and better than ever before. Hosted by Pitbull (also a performer), the three-hour event celebrates the most dazzling, buzzy stars of the year and the catchiest hook-laden hits of the Hot 100. Performers include Selena Gomez, Garth Brooks, Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Mary J. Blige, Iggy Azalea, Mary J. Blige, Charli XCX, Fergie,Lorde, One Direction, Sam Smith, Lorde, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Jessie J and many, many more.
Swift is expected to open the show with her brand-new Hot 100 No. 1 smash "Blank Space."
Presenters include: Uzo Aduba, Jhene Aiko, Elizabeth Banks, Aloe Blacc, Lauren Cohan, Gavin DeGraw, Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Becky G, Brantley Gilbert, Danai Gurira, Lucy Hale, Ella Henderson, Julianne Hough, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Kira Kazantsev, Heidi Klum, Mary Lambert, Rose McGowan, Danica McKellar, Train's Pat Monahan, Olivia Munn, Kevin O’Leary, Popdust favorite Pentatonix, Tracee Ellis Ross, Orange is the New Black's Taylor Schilling and Meghan Trainor.
Azalea leads the pack of nominees with an impressive six nods, including for the night's top honor Artist of the Year. She'll face off against Beyonce (bolstered by that mysterious 2013 surprise album), country superstar Luke Bryan, Eminem, Imagine Dragons, John Legend, Lorde, One Direction, Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams. The Aussie rapper also shows up for Single of the Year (for "Fancy" with Charli XCX) and Favorite Female Artist - Pop/Rock.
Other notable nominees include newcomers Sam Smith and Meghan Trainor, MAGIC! (in Single of the Year for "Rude"), Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Calvin Harris and the best-selling album of 2014, the ubiquitous Frozen soundtrack. You can see the full list of nominees below. Popdust will be updating this list throughout the evening to reflect the winners.
The Coco-Cola Red Carpet Live pre-show event was hosted by Lance Bass and the stunning Jordin Sparks and featured performances by Becky G ("Shower"), Ella Henderson ("Ghost") Katy Tiz ("The Big Bang"), Mary Lambert, and R5 ("Smile"). Various other hosting duties were handed off to Gavin DeGraw, Frankie Grande, Chelsea Briggs, Kandi Burruss, Taryn Manning, Morgan Stewart and accomplished personality and reporter Ted Stryker.
The 2014 American Music Awards go live from LA’s Nokia Theater tonight (Nov. 23) on ABC at 8/7c. Come back to Popdust soon for all your awards show coverage, including a super-snarky live blog and complete winners list!
[8:00] Three-time Artist of the Year, otherwise know as T-Swizzle, opens with "Blank Space," recreating her masterful music video. She's seated at an elegant dinner, across from her new lover. She slyly stands up and takes an apple over to him, he chokes, falls, she smirks and walks away. Very elaborate. Creepy paintings! Fog! Is this Halloween???
Meanwhile, the landscape catches fire behind her...as she goes "insane." She does it well. I love her self-awareness here. Blockbuster horror film? Sure! (I'd pay money to see Swift star in a psycho-thriller, lbr.) "Don't say I didn't warn ya," she says with her eyes, before powering through the songs delicious hook. Dancers (with ghostly makeup) hold picture frames and move behind her. A red door pops up on stage, a knock, and the next hunky victim steps through. BOOM POW!
[8:05] The night's host Pitbull is back in the house! He does look nice in a suit, I'll give him that. "We're gonna get off the chain!"
"In four minutes, she sold another 68 million albums," Mr Worldwide jokes. Heh. (Probably true, honestly.) Cue: jokes about Obama's ruling on immigration and other Spanish quips. "Get ready for just three hours of subtitles." LOL
Also, he makes some jokes about Jlo + Iggy's booty...which they'll "perform at the back end of the show." ZING!
[8:09] Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey hands out Favorite Band/Duo/Group - Pop/Rock...One Direction!
A NEW album and a NEW award! Way to go!
[8:16] The Fault In Our Stars Ansel Elgort introduces Charli XCX to perform "Boom Clap" and "Break The Rules." Lovely seafoam green gown, fitting for a high school prom...and of course sunglasses. (I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be "Boom Clap"ing the rest of the night inside my head.) Stars and balloons shimmer around her. Simple staging, but effective for the evening. Celebrate! Quick segue into the second song, she strips her dress to reveal a leather-inspired outfit. Oh, and there's boobs. Hot!
She goes from girl-next-door to goth chic in 1.2 seconds! It's like an '80s cult film in here! She may or may not be confusing viewers not familiar with her work...but it's oh so good.
[8:21] Matthew Morrison and Rita Ora introduces MAGIC! and Wyclef Jean (who is opening the performance with a guitar-strewn song). Short but sweet. Great vocals and phrasing. MAGIC! pops out of storybook. Way to make a clever entrance! ("Rude" is annoying, tbh.) He does his thing and everyone loves it. It's a love story, baby...
[8:29] Pitbull speaking Spanish. "Another 8 million Latino viewers."
Jamie Foxx, the most interesting man in the world, hands out Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album....The New Classic by Iggy Azalea!
"It means so much I can stand here against Eminem and Drake and win." (Considering recent drama, this was deserved and delicious.)
[Announced off screen: Carrie Underwood takes Favorite Female - Country! Congrats, girl!]
[8:34] Gavin DeGraw and Becky G introduces 5 Seconds Of Summer with a cover of The Romantic's "What I LIke About You." Throwback style! Fan favorite! They rock harder than Taylor Swift's hair flips.
[8:42] Enrique Iglesias took home Favorite Male - Latin (as Pitbull points out for us)! Congrats!
The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan (STUNNING!!!) introduce Imagine Dragons as they debut a new song called "I Bet My Life." An artistic moment! While elaborate, flashy staging and big pop anthems are nice, it's also refreshing for a more artistic, organically=grown moment. Nice melody, cool arrangement. Starry backdrop is surreal, though.
[8:46] Orange Is The New Black's Taylor Schilling and Uzo Aduba hand out Favorite Male - Pop/Rock...Sam Smith!
What a great wrap up to a truly wonderful breakout year!
[8:55] Glee's Dianna Agron and Castle's Nathan Fillon introduce Sam Smith and A$AP Rocky (what a combo!). Sam rips into his sensational hit "I'm Not The Only One," the video of which starred Dianna herself. Man, oh, man. There is simply no better male vocalist than Mr. Smith right now. Wowza! Chills. for. days. He's the kind of visionary that doesn't need distracting staging or ridiculata to get the message across. Although, I'm not sure about the addition of A$SAP Rocky on this...I guess that was a concoction of the producers?! They wanted to manufacture a "moment," when the song doesn't call for it? Ok, then...
[9:00] T.I. introduces Iggy with "Fancy." The performance begins with the press hounding her at a podium. She's donned a slick, glittering suit. Never get tired of this fist-pumping anthem. Just such an earworm. The dancers are the press! They dance with flashing cameras. Cool effect.
The performance then segues into "Beg For It," as Iggy works it upstage in a new outfit around some gym equipment--how Olivia Newton John "Physical" of her! Um...there's a lot of bleeping right now. There's edit for this? ;)
[9:04] Meghan Trainor and Jhene Aiko hand out Favorite Male - Country...Luke Bryan! "I'm pretty sure I have lipstick...a little bit," he begins, wiping off his collar. Ha.
[9:10] The Hunger Games' Elizabeth Banks introduces Lorde! Zoomed up on her face, the enchantress starts into a nearly-a capella "Yellow Flicker Beat," the theme from the new action flick. Fog is enveloping her from all sides. The color is a somber blue...before a red-orange seeps onto her face from the lights overhead. Searing? Check. Rocking? Check. Artist? CHECK. As she performs and the camera spins 'round and 'round, it appears she's trapped inside a windowless room...but as the beat progress, the walls lift into the air and the crowd goes wild. Very cool staging. See, she's the kind of artist that can do both.
Oh...and there's dancing...as only Lorde can dance.
[9:15] Ariana Grande and The Weeknd then take the stage. We go from alternative-rock to smooth R&B-pop. Ari strips down "Problem" into a throwback jazz performance. Wow. Very nice. The focus is entirely on her outstanding vocals. I know I've been a critic of her enunciation, but she's getting better. Maybe a throwback R&B album in her future? (Hint: YES PLEASE!) It's the perfect bridge into "Love Me Harder." Flashing lights, smooth delivery...and holy cow, her dress is gorgeous!
Question of the night: What's the deal with Weeknd's hair?
[9:20] Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg hand out Favorite Album - Pop/Rock...Midnight Memories by One Direction! Two for two so far!!!
Sweep, boys, sweep!
[9:28] Miss America Kira Kazantsev introduces Pitbull and Ne-Yo! How does Mister Worldwide do it: pulling double duty and he doesn't break a sweat? Like at all. (Not fair). It's another dance-y pop tune..."Fireball." Lots of skinny, scantily-clad dancers, because duh. Fire balls and sun in the backdrop. A literal globe on stage, because duh. Ne-Yo then joins him for his own "Time Of My Life." NEXT!
[9:33] Khloe Kardashian and Kylie & Kendall Jenner hand out Favorite Female - Pop/Rock...Katy Perry! She's quite honored...she says via pre-taped video! "Hi Katy Cats," she waves adorably. Aww. Meow.
[9:40] Brantley Gilbert and Danica McKellar (hi, Wendy!!!) hand out Favorite Artist - Alternative Rock...Imagine Dragons.
[9:42] Mary Lambert and Lucy Hale introduces Selena Gomez with "The Heart Wants What It Wants." The performance includes the super EMOTIONAL cold open. There's only her silhouette, with a moon on the backdrop. She saunters downstage, before launching into a touching performance of the track. It's the lead-in to her For You compilation.
Um. Could this possible be her best live performance ever???? (Hint: Absolutely)
[9:46] Juliane Hough hands out New Artist of the Year...5 Seconds of Summer! Heartthrobs FTW!
[9:55] Newsroom's Olivia Munn and Pat Manohan hand out Favorite Artist - Rap/Hip-Hop...Iggy Azalea! This is her second win of the nigh!
"I'm gonna love ya like a black widow, baby!"
[9:56] Kate Beckinsale introduces One Direction! They are performing their new single "Night Changes," from their new album FOUR (which, as of this afternoon, bowed at No. 1 in the UK). The boys lovingly gaze at the camera. This is probably one of their better single releases. Hopefully it catches on at radio/on the charts.
[10:01] Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross introduce Lil Wayne and Christina Millian. They perform (with flames, again, behind them) their new song "Start A Fire." I'm getting a severe FIRE motif with the show tonight, anyone else! The track, while Christina does some great stuff with it, is a little too ho-hum and middle-of-the-road to be a hit.
The performance segues into Skylar Grey and Nicki Minaj with a great new track "Bed of Lies," from Nicki's upcoming The Pink Print. After "Anaconda," this song is a complete 180 quality-wise. Seeing a more emotional side to the rapper is lovely. It follows the rap-verse, melodic-chorus formula, but it just works.
[10:12] Vintage clip of Diana Ross before she comes out onstage. Nothing but cheers and applause for the living legend. She's "really, really excited" to be there. She's so genuine. She's handing out a NEW award, thanks to Dick Clark (one of the media pioneers), to Taylor Swift. It's called: Dick Clark Award of Excellence.
1989 is to credit for this, of course, as it has already sold over two million copies since its Oct. 27 release. "She's really talented and beautiful," Diana says. Cut to: video tribute surrounding the album.
Before taking the stage in a dazzling green dress, she gives Sam Smith a quick peck on the cheek. Aww. "I'm so blown away to have just received an award from Diana Ross," she says, noting how the latter's legacy of "being a woman and standing up for herself." "Music should be consumed as art and appreciated."
[10:17] Josh Dummel (so dashing) introduces Fergie! "She also makes really cute babies, by the way." Ha. It's all about "La La Love" for this black-eyed pea. She looks fantastic, performing the thumpin' track from atop her vibrantly colored bus (which has a skull for a face). She arrived earlier on the red carpet on this thing, seemingly out-doing Lady Gaga's previously noisy arrivals. Will this song put Fergie back on top? Time (and iTunes downloads) will tell...
As the song progresses, the more clothes she loses. Ok...
[10:26] Luke Bryan introduces Garth Brooks performance, which is via satellite. Beaming in from Greensboro, NC, he performs "People Loving People," a Top 30 hit on the country charts. A nice, syrupy-sweet anthemic mid-tempo, the lead-in to his just-released Man Against Machine disc. The next single is a tender ballad called "Mom."
[10:31] Ella Henderson and Aloe Blacc introduces Mary J. Blige, which a song she co-wrote with Sam Smith called "Therapy." It's refreshing when a song likes this showcases talent from across genres, across generations, across styles. As always, Mary, regardless of your feelings on this particular song (which is pretty good, nice and soulful--just like we like it), she drips with emotion and delivers the vocals with pinpoint precision, cutting through the noise of the night.
[10:39] The Shark Tank panel hand out Favorite Album - Country...Just As I Am by Brantley Gilbert! WHOA. Did not see that coming. Judging by some tweets, he's not as mainstream as the other nominees. But congrats man!
[10:43] Our favorite a capella group ever Pentatonix introduce Nicki, Ariana and Jessie J for "Bang Bang." Jessie J begins the performance sliding down the alley in a gold onsie. Way to make an entrance, girl! Outstanding and truly UNDERRATED vocalist. I don't care what anyone says, but she's one of the best of today's crop of talent. Ariana ratchets up the sex appeal in super-duper short gold dress. IT'S RAINING GOLD PEOPLE!
They dominate. Enough said.
[10:50] Heidi Klum hands out the night's biggest honor Artist of the Year...One Direction!
I think the screaming crowd sums up my thoughts here. ;)
[10:54] And now...the moment we all have been waiting for: Iggy Azalea and Jlo with "Booty." (Because, yes, we have been waiting all day for Sunday night.) The performance opens with the video's countdown and cold open. It's nearly an exact replica of the video, which is pretty bold, giving the graphic nature. But so what? They have booty, and can't be faulted with flaunting it. GIRL POWER!
Note: Jlo proves she can still kick some major ass on stage. Wow, those moves!
And that's a wrap!
The winners are as follows (as noted in red):
DICK CLARK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY KOHL’S
5 Seconds of Summer--WINNER!
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX “Fancy”
John Legend “All of Me”
Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J “Dark Horse”--WINNER!
Pharrell Williams “Happy”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST – POP/ROCK
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST – POP/ROCK
FAVORITE BAND, DUO OR GROUP – POP/ROCK
FAVORITE ALBUM – POP/ROCK
Lorde “Pure Heroine”
One Direction “Midnight Memories”--WINNER!
Katy Perry “Prism”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST – COUNTRY
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST – COUNTRY
FAVORITE BAND, DUO OR GROUP – COUNTRY
Eli Young Band
Florida Georgia Line--WINNER!
FAVORITE ALBUM – COUNTRY
Garth Brooks “Blame It On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences”
Eric Church “The Outsiders”
Brantley Gilbert “Just As I Am”--WINNER!
FAVORITE ARTIST – RAP/HIP-HOP
FAVORITE ALBUM – RAP/HIP-HOP
Iggy Azalea “The New Classic”--WINNER!
Drake “Nothing Was The Same”
Eminem “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST – SOUL/R&B
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST – SOUL/R&B
Mary J. Blige
FAVORITE ALBUM – SOUL/R&B
John Legend “Love in the Future”
Pharrell Williams “G I R L”
FAVORITE ARTIST – ALTERNATIVE ROCK
FAVORITE ARTIST – ADULT CONTEMPORARY
FAVORITE ARTIST – LATIN
FAVORITE ARTIST – CONTEMPORARY INSPIRATIONAL
FAVORITE ARTIST – ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC (EDM)
“The Fault In Our Stars”
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1″
[PHOTO CREDIT: AMA/Kevin Winter]