Last night, the American Music Awards turned 40. And we know what you're thinking: WTF the American Music Awards?
Well, it's an ABC tradition, originated by the late, great Dick Clark. It's like the American Idol of shitty award shows, in that the fans choose the winners by an online poll, which means nothing is determined by talent and every artist is "more honored" because "it's the fans" who've granted them this achievement.
But did they totally suck? Well, sort of.
Six Things That Didn't Totally Suck
Usher's Epic Three-Song Intro
He's one of the coolest dancers/singers in the world and he kicked shit off proper with his opening medley of new hits. He danced his way through dramatic renditions of "Numb," "Climax" and the brand-new "Can't Stop, Won't Stop," all backed by some of the most intense lasers, smoke, and flashy distracting things the show would offer all night. Sure, his singing wasn't top-notch, but it's because he's actually moving up there and trying at the same damn time.
No Less Bullshit
One nice thing about the AMAs was the lack of stupid attempts to be funny between presentations. One of the most painful things about other shows is the terrible hokey-jokey videos that are supposed to be star-studded hilarity, but only end up being embarrassing for everyone involved. This award show had none of that crap, just straight-up lackluckster acceptance speeches intercut with a thousand performances by the highest-selling artists of the year.
Pink's Artistic Choreography
This lady easily had one of the best performances of the night, if not the best overall. Performing her new single "Try," Pink stunned the room with a highly emotional and contemporary dance routine. And not only that, she sang like a real superstar throughout the whole body-tossing thing. Basically, she shit on everyone. Too bad she didn't win any awards for the effort.
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How many trees die for award shows every year, just so they can print out the names of winners and put them into envelopes that will never be relevant again? Well, that's prolly a stupid big number. But it will soon be a thing of the past, now that the AMAs set a standard for e-delivery. Instead of paper, they applied the concept of product integration and let some new Samsung Galaxy phone play the role of envelope and card. That's both commercially viable and good for the whole planet. Maybe.
Justin Bieber Rap-Sings
Justin Bieber continued to show off how grown-up and sexy he's become with a dual performance of "As Long As You Love Me" and "Beauty and a Beat." But the best part was most assuredly his rap-sing rendition of Big Sean's verse from the former, which we accept as further proof that Justin Bieber is going to transform into an insufferable thug and then maybe die.
Stevie Wonder Is Still Awesome
Sometimes, we forget that pop stars used to be talented and write songs that everyone actually wanted to listen to without being brainwashed. Stevie Wonder came out and reminded us of that era. He honored the memory of entertainment icon Dick Clark with "Master Blaster (Jammin')," "My Cherie Amour," and "Sir Duke." And of course, Stevie totally rocked it. He also opened his performance with a political message, another archaic thing musicians have forgotten how to do.
Six Things That Totally Sucked
Goth Taylor Swiftstep
Last night, Taylor Swift won her 70 millionth American Music Award in a row, and then she gave the world an early Christmas present. She dropped her new dubstep track on everyone, and it was a godawful piece of shit. There's just something soul crushing about watching Swift dance around in a faux-goth getup, singing about boyfriends over what used to be a legitimately cool and groundbreaking wobble. Nothing lasts.
Favorite Electronic Dance Music
The AMAs made history last night, debuting a totally new award category for favorite EDM artist. And though everyone tried to make it seem like they gave a shit, it was just as disappointing and hackneyed a representation of the culture as one might expect. The nominees were David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Skrillex. And most obviously, Guetta took the prize. It felt like DJ Mag's Top 100 all over again. Except this time, your grandma was watching.
Xtina and the Drag Queens
Christina Aguilera tried to revive her career with a heavy dose of "Hey, gay community! I'm a pop star! Don't you love me?" She got up on stage with a bunch of drag queens and sang a song about being proud of your fabulous self. And while it was fun to imagine wholesome families across the nation having a bunch of dudes flash them, the desperate ploy couldn't save Xtina's less-than-stellar performance. Boooooring.
Pitbull Covered A-Ha
Yeah, we love Mr. Worldwide for helping put Miami on the map for something other than awesome cocaine, bath salt zombies, and an inability to properly vote for President. But we're not too keen on his most recent choice of melodies. He unveiled some shitty new song featuring the tune of A-Ha's '80s classic "Take On Me," and now we can't ever enjoy that song for its tongue-in-cheek cuteness ever again. A whole generation of idiot children will grow up thinking that's the "good" version. Fuck.
Psy and MC Hammer
Because one novelty is never enough, the AMAs closed out the show with a high-energy performance of "Gangnam Style" and brought an old clown out of retirement. That's right ... MC Hammer (who hasn't been mentioned in years, other than in reference to funny pants or financial cautionary tales) joined the Korean superstar. At least Hammer proved that he's still a really boss dancer at 50. Oh, and Psy's YouTube hit was mashed up with Mr. MC's classic "2 Legit 2 Quit," and we all shared a collective shudder at the cheesiness. But in a way, we loved it too.
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But the absolutely worst thing about the entire 40th anniversary edition of the AMAs was the sheer lack of cultural development exhibited by American audiences. We've never witnessed such a predictable pile of commercialized garbage as the list of AMA winners. All we learned from the American Music Awards is the machine is working and the talent has left the building.
Step it up you guys! Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber don't have any competition. And it's depressing.