LOS ANGELES • British boy band One Direction swept the top honours at Sunday's American Music Awards, while a sorrowful tribute to the victims of the attacks in Paris lent a sombre note to a night of otherwise vibrant performances.
One Direction was named Artist of the Year for a second consecutive year and also won the Best Pop/Rock Album for a third consecutive year, with the album Made In The A.M.
"It's absolutely incredible to receive this award two years in a row. It's a testament to how incredible our fans are," band member Louis Tomlinson said.
French-Canadian singer Celine Dion led the tribute to the victims of the Nov 13 Paris attacks, singing Edith Piaf's classic Hymne A L'Amour (Hymn To Love) in front of a screen flashing images of Paris that culminated with the Eiffel Tower in the French flag's tricolour.
She was introduced by actor- musician Jared Leto, who made a moving tribute to the 130 victims of the Nov 13 attacks, specifically the 89 who died at the Bataclan concert hall, where he said he and his band, 30 Seconds To Mars, had performed "a beautiful, peaceful" show earlier this year.
"Tonight, we honour victims of the unimaginable violence that took place in Paris and around the world," he said. "France matters, Russia matters, Syria matters, Mali matters, the Middle East matters, the United States matters, the entire world matters and peace is possible," he added to applause.
The tribute was a rare sombre note in the made-for-TV ceremony.
Electronic producer Skrillex also referred to world turmoil as he accepted an award for his work with pop star Justin Bieber. "There is so much negative stuff going on in the world, so it's up to us to be positive," Skrillex said of the musicians' role.
Key winners at the fan-voted awards included Taylor Swift, who went into the night with a leading six nominations and won three awards, but did not attend the event.
Ariana Grande beat Swift for Favourite Female Pop or Rock Artist. The 22-year-old thanked her grey-haired grandmother who was sitting next to her in the audience. "I think I owe a lot of this to my nonna," said Grande, who is of Italian descent. "She told me, 'Ariana, I went on the computer and voted, so I think you'll win.'"
In a sign of the burgeoning United States market for country music, the award for Favourite New Artist went to Nashville crooner Sam Hunt, who outpaced emerging stars in other genres, including The Weeknd, which won two Soul/R&B awards.
In one of the moments that drew the most attention on social media, singer Charlie Puth passionately kissed Meghan Trainor after they sang together. Puth and Trainor, who has become a star in part due to her struggles with body image, had teamed up for his song Marvin Gaye, which uses the name of the legendary R&B singer as a euphemism for sex.
Star Wars veteran Harrison Ford introduced five-piece a cappella group Pentatonix, who put their vocals to John Williams' iconic Star Wars score. The performance comes ahead of next month's new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film.
Performers also included show host Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber and Coldplay.
Earlier, on the red carpet, killer looks came courtesy of stars such as Gomez in a sequinned backless dress, Demi Lovato decked out in 1920s flapper style, and models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE