Given its post-election airdate, this year’s American Music Awards unsurprisingly had its share of passionate and awkward political moments. Portraying a strange time in pop culture and spotlighting one of the youngest lists of honorees in recent memory at the AMAs made for an uneven show, at least on TV.
The live show was more exciting in person, as well as more surreal, especially when banter didn’t connect and/or certain topical lines were crossed. Ultimately, what was said on stage didn’t matter. It was the music that mattered, as it should be.
Here, five things observed from the audience during the show.
EDM category winners the Chainsmokers and Artist of the Year Ariana Grande both found themselves bleeped when they let a couple curses slip into their admittedly nervous acceptance speeches. But model Chrissy Teigen’s profanity-laced intro for her husband John Legend was on another level. The perfect combo of bitter and sweet, Teigen kept it real–and raw.
“This next performer is a brilliant musician and a wonderful father who makes a pretty damn good breakfast sandwich, and he has been known to write love songs about me. What can I say? I’m very inspiring,” she joked. “But his songs are bigger than either of us and on the heels of what’s been a really f—ng interesting, f—d up election for all of us, I think we could all use a little love tonight.”
Anyone who follows Teigen on Twitter knows she is not a Trump fan. In fact, she had a Twitter war with the President-elect himself back in Dec. 2015, following Trump’s announcement that he would be meeting with a group of black pastors at the Trump Towers. After her AMA comments, we’re guessing the Trump-Teigen Twitter wars ain’t over yet–that is, if she decides to make her account public again (Teigen set her tweets to “confirmed followers only” in October, and we’re guessing Mr. Trump isn’t one of those).
Gigi Hadid’s Hosting Game
The AMAs co-host wore a procession of stunning get-ups throughout the telecast, but she offered more than mere eye candy onstage. Although most of her jokes–including a feeble attempt at a Melania Trump impression–bombed, the supermodel proved to be proficient and prepared for her role as hostess, outshining co-host Jay Pharaoh, coming to the stage early during commercial breaks, chatting with producers, and playfully interacting with the shows presenters and nominees. In person, she was a chill complement to the sensory overload at the event, and proved that she has the chops for more host gigs in the future.
Bonding in the Crowd
In addition to the usual celeb schmoozing (Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga seemed particularly chummy off-camera), the AMAs offered a concert-like atmosphere that saw many fans in the audience letting loose, dancing together, and screaming for their idols throughout the show. Giant glowsticks handed out to the crowd for Maroon 5’s interactive closing number became makeshift light sabers before and after the performance for some.
Putting on a timed-to-the-tee event such as the AMAs requires a lot of hands. The AMAs only had one stage to set the show on, and it was a marvel to watch how it was transformed in a matter of minutes in between each act during commercial breaks. From Grande and Nicki Minaj’s tropical island backdrop to Gaga’s intimate pseudo prairie jam; Fifth Harmony’s post-apocalyptic dance-off to flashy turns by 21 Pilots and Green Day, the show on the whole was a visual feast made possible by a fleet of quick moving staff. As Rihanna would say, they really work, work, work, work, worked!
The American Music Awards consisted of 28 fan-voted prizes, but only 11 made it onto the broadcast.
Here’s the full list:
Artist of the Year: Ariana Grande
Favorite Female Artist , Pop/Rock: Selena Gomez
Favorite Artist, Alternative Rock: Twenty One Pilots
Favorite Duo or Group–Country: Florida Georgia Line
Top Soundtrack: Purple Rain, Prince
Favorite Artist–Rap/Hip-Hop: Drake
New Artist of the Year Un-Leashed By T-Mobile: Zayn
Favorite Song—Country: Tim McGraw, “Humble And Kind”
Collaboration of the Year: Fifth Harmony Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Work From Home”
Favorite Artist– Electronic Dance Music: The Chainsmokers
Favorite Album–Rap/Hip-Hop: Views, Drake
Favorite Duo or Group–Pop/Rock: Twenty One Pilots
Tour of the Year: Beyoncé
Video of the Year: “Sorry,” Justin Bieber
Favorite Male Artist–Pop/Rock: Justin Bieber
Favorite Album–Pop/Rock: Purpose, Justin Bieber
Favorite Song—Pop: “Love Yourself,” Justin Bieber
Favorite Male Artist—Country: Blake Shelton
Favorite Female Artist—Country: Carrie Underwood
Favorite Album—Country: Storyteller, Carrie Underwood
Favorite Song–Rap/Hip-Hop: “Hotline Bling,” Drake
Favorite Male Artist–Soul/R&B: Chris Brown
Favorite Female Artist–Soul/R&B: Rihanna
Favorite Album–Soul/R&B: Anti, Rihanna
Favorite Song–Soul/R&B: “Work,” Rihanna f/Drake
Favorite Artist–Adult Contemporary: Adele
Favorite Artist—Latin: Enrique Iglesias
Favorite Artist–Contemporary Inspirational: Hillsong United