(LOS ANGELES) — So what if the big closing number of the 40th Anniversary edition of the American Music Awards was a song sung in Korean, and the big winner was Canadian? The fan-voted awards show, which aired Sunday night on ABC, still managed to pack a year’s worth of hit songs in every genre into one blowout, three-hour telecast.
Justin Bieber was the night’s big winner, in more ways than one. He took home the most prestigious award, Artist of the Year, as well as two additional trophies: Favorite Pop/Male Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Album. He also performed two songs — “As Long as You Love Me” and “Beauty & a Beat.”
Carly Rae Jepsen, the fellow Canadian whose career he boosted to the top of the charts this past year, scored her first major award for Favorite New Artist of the Year. On top of that, Bieber’s mentor, Usher, opened the show and took home his 8th AMA, for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist.
At the podium for the first time, a defiant Bieber announced, “This is for all the haters who thought that I was just here for maybe one or two years. I feel like I’m gonna be here for a very long time.”
At the end of the evening, the overwhelmed singer brought his date for the night, his mom Patti, up onstage, and told his fans, “As long as you guys keep believing in me, I will always make you proud.”
Nicki Minaj, Bieber’s duet partner on “Beauty & a Beat,” also had a good night, taking home two awards: Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop album for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
The rapper and newly-minted American Idol judge thanked her fans, who she calls “Barbz,” saying, “You are so passionate and so inspiring. Thank you so much for voting your little fingers off. I could just eat you and kiss you and love you and hug you.”
Some of music’s biggest names won in categories that weren’t announced on camera. Beyonce was named Favorite Female Soul R&B Artist, while Katy Perry was named Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. Rihanna took the Favorite Soul/R&B Album for Talk that Talk. Adele was named Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, while Maroon 5 won Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group. None of those artists were in the house, as it happened.
In the one rock category of the night, Linkin Park won Favorite Alternative Rock Artist for the fifth time.
In the country categories, Taylor Swift was named Favorite Female for the fifth time — her 11th AMA overall. Carrie Underwood won Favorite Country Album for the fourth time for her current disc Blown Away. Every album she’s ever released has won that award. Luke Bryan was a surprise winner for Favorite Country Male Artist, while Lady Antebellum three-peated in the Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group category.
And because it was the 40th Anniversary of the American Music Awards, the show’s long history was celebrated through the night with a few classic clips here and there, including some 1975 footage of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson together, and a montage of Whitney Houston wins. In addition, Ryan Seacrest introduced a tribute to the late Dick Clark, creator of the American Music Awards.
“Dick Clark loved the power of music and its ability to create pure joy,” he told the audience, before bringing on Clark’s friend of 49 years, Stevie Wonder. The music legend performed three of his hits — “Master Blaster (Jammin’),” “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke” — while a montage of Clark photos was shown behind him.
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