Events

Bieber captures four statuettes at American Music Awards

Gerrick D. Kennedy and Randall Roberts
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Last year Adam Lambert's kiss at the American Music Awards sent the Internet tongues wagging, but this year it was Usher and his protege, Justin Bieber, who gathered the most attention at the annual music fete, held at downtown Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre and broadcast on ABC — albeit with less controversy.

The pair took home six trophies at the show, which celebrates the United States' most popular musical artists. Bieber won four trophies, including artist of the year, while Usher, who signed the teen in 2008, received two, including favorite male R&B performance. Bieber is the youngest artist to ever win artist of the year.

But the American Music Awards are usually short on drama and long on performance, and this year was no exception. The winners are determined by a combination of fan voting, radio play, record sales and online video play, so as a result it's a popularity contest, not a critical judgment.

As such, Sunday's show attempted to hit many demographics and generations. Introducing Bieber, young singing sensation Willow Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, said, "I'm really lucky. He's like my big brother." For his part, Bieber thanked Usher, calling him "not only my mentor but my best friend and my big brother."

Performances by an elder statesman of classic rock, Carlos Santana, was a look back, and a boy-band convergence featuring the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block rounded out the evening in an adult-contemporary mode.

Three of today's most controversial pop artists — Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Eminem — didn't attend.

In fact, after last year's Lambert stunt, the AMAs were family friendly in 2010. Katy Perry, whose award-show antics once included descending to the stage in a suggestive banana, floated down from above a children's choir looking more like the Virgin Mary. Even Miley Cyrus, who is a couple of days away from her 18th birthday and appears with midriff bared on the cover of her recent album "Can't Be Tamed," went the big-ballad route rather than with the more sexually suggestive image she's been selling of late.

Sunday's Nokia performances proved to be more promotional tools than part of an honors ceremony. The show was chock-full of acts — a startling 18 this year — with a vast majority, including Bieber, Ke$ha, Ne-Yo, Kid Rock, Pink, the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna — using their stage time to plug new albums. In one of the only unscripted moments in the telecast, in fact, Nicki Minaj interrupted an award to promote her debut album.

Rihanna opened the ceremony with a medley of hits from her new disc, "Loud," including a sequel to the smash Emimen collaboration, "Love the Way You Lie." Her fire-engine red hair and island rhythms suggested a return to her dancehall roots.

The lineup skimped on guitar heroes and rap veterans such as Santana, Bon Jovi and Diddy, who held down their respective genres amid all the glittery youthful pop. Taylor Swift, who secured a third consecutive win as favorite female country artist, was typically gracious in winning. "I only want to thank the fans," she said, smiling. "You guys get me and understand me."

But the 16-year-old Bieber was the man of the evening. He was named both the breakthrough artist and artist of the year, much to the delight of his fans at the Nokia, who shouted his name incessantly from the fan section of the theater.

Despite having one of the biggest-selling albums of the year, Eminem garnered only two wins, a true testament that heavy hitters are no match for nail-biting girls in front of their computers Tweeting about Bieber. After besting both the rapper and his mentor, Usher, in the artist of the year category, he too seemed to be in disbelief of his meteoric rise.

"I've been singing Eminem since I was like, 3," Bieber said as he clutched a statue.

The joint performance of the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, with the two man-boy bands being every bit as nostalgic of a bygone era as they performed a mash-up of their '90s hits, was a tease for their recently announced summer 2011 concert tour.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.