HOLLYWOOD—I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you know Thanksgiving is around the corner when the American Music Awards airs. The 2016 ceremony was hosted by Gigi Hadid and “Saturday Night Live” star Jay Pharaoh who kicked off the festivities with a performance by Bruno Mars and his new hit “24K Magic.” Mars definitely has the moves on stage to mesmerize the audience at home and in-person. He is indeed becoming a superstar performer in my eyes. Justin Bieber was the night’s big winner taking home 4 AMA including Favorite Male Artist Pop/Rock, Video of the Year, Favorite Album Pop/Rock and Favorite Song Pop/Rock. Rapper Drake walked away with 3 AMA.
Pharaoh delivered the funny in my opinion, but it appears his comedic touch rubbed off on Gigi who did her ‘best’ impression of Melania Trump and gave shot-outs to the presenters and performers slated to take the stage throughout the 3-hour long telecast. Yes, 3 hours, far longer than I expect for the AMAs. Jay’s impersonation of Donald Trump was HILARIOUS, spot-on and simply fantastic.
The first award of the night for Favorite Pop/Rock Duo or Group was handed out by the ladies of “Hidden Figures” to “Twenty One Pilots.” Justin Bieber got a bit of love from the AMAs, as highlights were made to his whirlwind 2016 with a hit album.’ Bieber performed at the ceremony via satellite. Yeah, a live performance and a satellite performance aren’t the same people. One Direction boy-band member Niall Horan took the stage for a solo performance that was a bit somber in my opinion. So it was nice to see the girl-group Fifth Harmony rock the stage with the hit “That’s My Girl.”
The prize for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album was handed out to Drake for “Views.” What, he actually attended an award ceremony? It seems like Drake is always a no-show at such ceremonies. Singer Shawn Mendes hit the stage to perform his hit “Treat You Better,” with a rock-infused light-show. The Chainsmokers won the award for Favorite Electronic Dance Music artist. The Weeknd hit the stage to perform his catchy single before the AMA for Favorite Collaboration of the Year to Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign for “Work From Home.”
Ariana Grande hit the stage with assistance from Nicki Minaj to perform her ubiquitous hit “Side to Side,” which will stay in one’s mind for weeks. Jay’s spoof of Drake lip syncing to Taylor Swift’s hit “Bad Blood” was so funny, I mean funny that I thought I was about to fall of the couch while watching. John Legend took to the stage to sing his inspirational hit” Love Me Now,” which earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
It was a moving moment of the night to see Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister take the stage to deliver a powerful speech on behalf of her late brother, who took home an AMA for Favorite Soundtrack Album for “Purple Rain.” Lady Gaga hit the stage barefoot to perform her latest single, proving once again, that while she is one hell of a performer, she can definitely hold a note that will resonate with the soul. The American Music Award for Favorite Country Duo/Group to Florida Georgia Line, and Twenty One Pilots won the AMA for Favorite Alternative Rock Artist.
Selena Gomez picked up her first AMA for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. She gave a riveting speech discussing her personal tribulations and letting those who are broken know that its ok to be fixed. Ariana Grande took the stage to nab the biggest award of the night for Artist of the Year. Sting, who accepted the Merit Award courtesy of actor Robert Downey Jr., took the stage with a performance that was a highlight of the night. Other performers of the night included Green Day, Maroon 5 and Kendrick Lamar.
A worthy ceremony, but not full of the star-power that is common at such ceremonies like the Grammy awards, which will air in February 2017. However, it was a nice distraction from all the chaos that has been the highlight of pop culture in the recent weeks.