Los Angeles (Reuters, AFP) - Boy bands bested pop’s leading ladies in the top award categories at the American Music Awards on Sunday, but the women delivered the most high-octane performances including a Crazy Horse-style derriere-flaunting number by Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea.
Chart-topper Taylor Swift also used the platform to deliver a staunch defence of traditional album buying.
The American Music Awards focus on commercial success with fans voting for their favourites, in contrast to the Grammy Awards in which music industry professionals select what they consider to be the year’s top work.
One Direction, the British heartthrobs who have released albums every year since 2011, won the biggest prizes including Artist Of The Year and Favorite Album with their latest work, Midnight Memories. The quintet performed their new ballad Night Changes against a night-time forest backdrop.
Taylor Swift received a new award for excellence named in honour of the American Music Awards’ late founder Dick Clark, a pioneer of music television performances with his show American Bandstand.
Accepting the award from Motown legend Diana Ross, Swift appeared to dish out a new round of criticism of the streaming service Spotify. Swift has pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify, accusing the fast-growing streaming service of devaluing music by not paying enough back to artists.
Thanking her fans, she said: “What you did by going out and investing in music and albums is you’re saying that you believe in the same thing that I believe in – that music is valuable and that music should be consumed in albums, and albums should be consumed as art and appreciated.”
Her latest album, 1989, enjoyed the highest sales of any American album in its first week in 12 years. It far outpaced industry expectations by selling two million copies in the United States in its first three weeks.
Swift opened the evening by performing her latest single, Blank Space, in which she - having fun with her reputation for short-lived relationships – held a burning rose as she pushed back suitors who pranced around her holding open picture frames.
Boy bands proved strong as Australian newcomers 5 Seconds of Summer won the coveted New Artist Of The Year award. Azalea, another Australian newcomer, won two rap categories, Favorite Album for The New Classic and Favorite Artist over Eminem and Drake.Much of the three-hour awards show, aired on ABC, was dedicated to performances dominated by the women, including a raunchy rendition of Booty by Azalea and Lopez.
Pop stars Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Nicki Minaj opted for less audacious performances. Grande sang One Less Problem and Break Free with a jazz twist while an emotional Gomez sang The Heart Wants What It Wants, a dance track that she has revealed is about her on-off relationship with singer Justin Bieber.
Minaj and Skylar Grey performed their duet Bed Of Lies.
Later, Grande and Minaj spiced up the show with Jessie J with their upbeat number Bang Bang.
Hip hop bad boy Lil Wayne also took to the stage in a passionate dance with singer Christina Milian, his rumoured girlfriend. They performed his new track, Start A Fire – with ABC editing out some lyrics from the broadcast.