Around a dozen artists are slated to take the stage at the American Music Awards tonight (Nov. 22), broadcasted live on ABC from Los Angeles, and just as many will be taking home fan-decided awards.
From Adam Lambert to Jay-Z, Green Day to Black Eyed Peas, J-Lo to Whitney Houston, Lady GaGa to Alicia Keys the stars have been scuffing up their stage shoes to help promote albums on the shelves, or to-be on sale. Will anybody fall on their face? Will A-listers or favorites get snubbed for top prizes? How will the nation’s love for Michael Jackson manifest?
The AMAs are decided by fan votes, popularity and sales, but even more exciting are the performances on the night of the ceremony. Watch along with us, and post your comments as HitFix gives us our thoughts on the night as it unfolds.
You can follow live-blogger Katie Hasty’s Twitter, too, at /katieaprincess.
7:55 Five minutes to showdown, and I have been promised eight minutes of Janet Jackson. Eager to see what she promotes and what of brother Michael’s legacy manifests. Meanwhile, I have some Kelly Clarkson Red Carpet photos to mull.
8:03 We have mish-mash medley! Janet rocks several cuts like “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” and “If I Was Your Girl,” but the voice sounds light and frilly like Prince. Her outfit is decidedly un-Prince, all brown and leathery, and her weave is getting no goodness from this lighting. Perhaps it took a turn in a dryer before being applied to her head.
8:06 Don’t think I didn’t see that white-man overbite, Rascal Flatts.
8:07 “Together Again,” Janet looks to the sky (ceiling). Cut to the Jackson brothers in the Glove and Sparkles. “I can see your star/shining down on me.” Thanks for that.
8:10 We have technical difficulties! Paula Abdul doing her best to not sound drunk, or sad that her post-“American Idol” plans are still a little hazy. Black Eyed Peas are all shiny when they win the pop/rock duo/group award. We still don’t know what two of the four members actually “do” in the group.
8:16: Rascal Flatts wins best country group, thanks God, family, curses what they get taxed. Yeah, life sucks, brother.
8:18 Pete Wentz looks surprisingly normal, also: cold. We like your jacket, but couldn’t you have settled for a shawl? He introduces Daughtry, as he faces the impending hiatus of his own band.
8:20 Chris Daughtry’s pipes are sounding clean as ever on “Life After You,” though I think he deserves his own, independent gallery of the Various Phases of Facial Hair. The bassist is all, like, look at my mohawk, edgy, but I think the pencil jaw-beard is talkin’ to me, man.
8:22 Shakira and her military celebrate the unitard and overtake the aisles. Her dress is a dark disco ball. Ther single sleeve matches but holds no flame to the metal glove of “Single Girls.” “Give It Up to Me” sounds slammin’, but how come I don’t remember her looking this way at all? Tasty step moves.
8:25 As I endure twee commercials for ice shows, Chrismas at the Gap, Target and Apple, jingle bells, all that, I recall the report that Adam Lambert will soon be dragging a real, live woman across the stage in chains as part of his bit. HAPPY HOLIDAYS, PASS THE GRAVY, THANKS MOM.
8:31 Keith Urban sings “Kiss a Girl.” Tough to even imagine girls, what with your your band of eye-candy an a shiny shirt. Wife Nicole Kidman is in the house, to present “Nine” co-star Fergie with somethingorother.
8:35 Clarkson has changed from whatever that was on the Red Carpet to a really tasteful black gown. The orchestra backing her on ballad “Already Gone,” which is definitely not any of the hits you were hoping she’d sing, but it sounds solid regardless. This is the place where you expect a comment on her weight right? RIGHT? Kelly Clarkson can be as chubs or skinny as she wants as long as she keeps entertaining me. HEART.
8:42 HEY ANNOUNCER GUY, DON’T SAY “IZZLE” OR ANY OF ITS ITERATIONS EVER AGAIN. Snoop Dogg helps present.
8:43 Taylor Swift takes the pop/rock female award over Beyonce and Lady GaGa. Pop/rock. You heard right. The pop-country-crossover act gives her thanks via video from London, where she’s rehearsing. Predictably adorable.
8:48 There are some audible boos when A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, haters) presents Jay-Z with Alicia Keys. Alicia starts out with “New York, New York” on piano before heading into “Empire State of Mind” with Hov. Lady’s classy. Is it possible for a rapper with such a dark, *rawr* voice to be shrill? His “yeahs” are like, um, naw. Keys throws devil horns, Perez Hilton continues to make me want to punch him in the ear. Song’s still slammin’.
8:51 Green Day’s Bille Joe Armstrong starts making some point about alternative or punk music needing support or something — after winning alternative rock award — but then is undoubtedly cutting himself short for an impending commercial. They’ll take the stage later anyway, say something juicy then…
8:58 Kate Hudson adjusts her droopy aluminum shirt, taking attention away from Nicole Kidman’s juicy-as-a-pear skin. She’s like a botched punchline, that one. The two are co-starring with Fegie in “Nine.” Cut to Black Eyed Peas.
9:01: What the hell are you wearing? Now I want to box Will.IAm in the ears. He and Perez. Appropriate, no? The band starts out with a song that isn’t “Boom Boom Pow” or “I Gotta Feeling.” Taboo and The Other One need new in-ear monitors.
9:04: Sample “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the non-song ending to “Boom Boom Pow.” Did the camera cut to Kanye? That was like a bad acid flashback.
9:06 Michael Jackson gets favorite soul/R&B award, Jermaine keeps the acceptance mercifully short.
9:12 I think the nation is still a little hazy on why Zac Brown Band is famous. It’s about time we got some real beards up there, though, no more of this stubble and pinched goatees.
9:13: Keith Urban, who wins for best country male, obviously doesn’t own any button-downs that don’t open perfectly mid-chest.
9:14: Kris Allen makes a crack about not knowing what it’s like to perform on live TV, but the joke falls flat because he was obviously given the instructions to be wooden and boring when you present an award. Beyonce wins favorite female R&B/soul but doesn’t even phone in her “thanks” (she’s touring overseas).
9:16 I was JUST telling HitFix ed/blogger Greg Ellwood that Rihanna is my favorite robot. She is confirming this in a somewhat lengthy video intro.
9:20 Rihanna’s “Hard,” from her album “Rated R,” is as dark and double-entendre-y as you imagine. Rihanna looks mean. She also looks like she’s wearing stripey long underwear. I just imagined Rihanna with footies. Now I feel bad, I don’t think laughter is what she intened. She’s making her notes and sounding great.
9:22: I just want to note I finally witnessed the “Guitar Hero” commercial with Taylor swift, Travis Barker, Rivers Cuomo and Pete Wentz.There are just some things you can’t unsee.
9:26: Carrie Underwoodseems to be suffering the least amount of sound problems on “Cowboy Casanova” — or she’s downright just the best singer the show has seen yet. Is that a romper? It’s like drapery for curvy lady-parts. Thank goodness the mic matches the dress, her shoes certainly don’t. [That woosh you heard was me flipping my scarf]
9:31: In a move that surpises no one, Lady GaGa’s outfit is crazy like a piano on fire. OH WAIT.
9:33: “Bad Romance” gets the same dance in the insane vid, but this time, everyone’s in flesh-colored Dance Skins and on-body tracklighting. GaGa gets just as annoyed with her light-up head piece as we do and flings it as gently as possible to the ground. Her voice is sounding good until “Speechless,” and the weird tremolo on the chorus is a mix of auto-tune and the “vodka” bottles that lines the top of the piano. A piano that is on fire. Lady GaGa is in a box of mirrors with a grand piano on fire, breaking bottles of “liquor” on the keyboard and singing a ballad. I wonder if I ever get to write that description again.
9:35: Perez Hilton makes a joke about interviewing a guy in the bathroom and getting in a fight with musicians. Already beat you to it, and even I thought it was lame when I did. Also, Perez: You’re gay. We get it.
9:41 Mary J. Blige will never not be fabulous. That is all. Thanks for that performance.
9:46 Country-pop group Gloriana wins the corporate-sponsored breaking artist award, over folks like Lady GaGa. They joke about the fact that nobody knows who the hell they are. There’s spiky boy band hair like it’s 2001. The fan-voted award provides one of the few actual surprises tonight.
9:49 Jennifer Lopez takes the stage, fashioned as a boxing ring, as a boxer. The “boxers” make me think of the UFC-like stunt in “Bruno.” Hot, regardless. J-Lo’s rocking a new song “Louboutins” (not “Louis Vuittons” but, hey, both are shoes). Her dance break-down is massive and she gets her boxer-man-slaves to give her a costume change. Requisite close-up on shoes.
Now, you may be asking yourself, does Jennifer Lopez have her own shoe line? And I think you may have your answer.
Oh also, you would have missed it if you blinked: but the singer took a fall. On her bum. I promise: I did not do that with my mind. Occurs at 2:43.
9:58 Samuel L. Jackson (remember him?) introduces Whitney Houston, and we get a video montage, showing us all the various stages of Whitney Houston awesomeness. We hope she does her legacy sweet justice.
10:02 “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” has some great runs, few bad ones, but rollercoasters regardless. Better than her “GMA” appearance, or really, better than anything we’ve seen live from her so far in this “I Look to You” era. The gospel choir is enhancing goosebump intensity.
This talented lady is nervous. She really has survived some “dark hours.” She makes a long pause before delivering the final lines. Whitney Houston’s voice is still clearly suffering, but a good number regardless.
10:05: The house is on fire for Whitney, Reba’s tearing up, Jay-Z is like “yeah.” Whitney receives her Award for Being Awesome (American Music Awards International Artist Award), she thanks the regulars, including her daughter Bobbi Kristina, who is totes adorbs.
10:12: Taylor Swift wins another award (country female). World continues to spin, fish swim, cats purr, White Castle is gross.
10:13: Melissa Etheridge? Really?
10:14: Michael Jackson is up for pop/rock male and everybody pretends for a moment we’ll all just pretend he won’t win it over some other people, for the sake of entertainment
10:15: Jermaine thanks Allah. OK. Are we supposed to talk about this?
Anyway, “It’s not just about the winnings, the awards, it’s mainly the message, the message Michael had will live on forever. He saw the good in everyone and he wanted everyone to do good…”
I am having mixed feeling about this speech coming from a person who might be using his brother’s death as leverage for an A&E show.
10:17: Is that a brick wall “Bad” reference in Alicia Keys performance of “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart?” I’m almost getting tired of Alicia Keys being perfect. Costume change behind brick wall, long black backless body suit, back to the piano. Sorry, Alicia, I now demand all pianos be performed while on fire. The piano, not you.
10:25: I’m pretty sure presenter Seth Green won’t want to be known or remembered for his appearance in “Old Dogs.”
10:27: I remember when I first heard Eminem’s “Crack a Bottle,” I thought it was a parody, or satire or something. Now I’m just hearing half of it, since ABC has to blank out all the cuss words.
10:29: Dr. Dre has been name-checked twice tonight, but the man is not here. I think we’re just making him up.
10:30: 50 Cent, who was assisting Eminem, has a new album to promote right now, but it’s Timbaland who gets a whole song. Who’s the girl who looks like she’s about to step into a ep of “Dancing With the Stars?” [Answer: SoShy.] Nelly Furtado’s bangs are bangin’. “Thriller” reference with a dance cast that’s more creepy than pretty.
10:38: Dominic Monaghan does a little stomp dance when he introduces Green Day. I get what Evangaline Lilly sees in him.
10:39: I get that “21 Guns” is a hit, but you know what Green Day is known for? Rocking the F out. This song is a musical Quaalude. The cute hipster couple from the video makes-out on video, not on stage. Billie Joe misses his high note, looks like he’s going to throw up.
10:45: Jay-Z wins favorite hip-hop artist, rocking shades that aren’t Ray Bans, weird. Chews gum.
10:48: I have been informed that #buttfall is a trending topic on Twitter. Sorry, J-Lo.
10:52: Like, Whoa, Taylor wins Artist of the Year over Michael Jackson. She does seem in awe this time around, still phoning it (video-ing it) in. I’d spend more time being shocked with her, but it’s Adam Lambert time.
10:55: Adam Lambert wins out over Lady GaGa for Best Use of Bondage Gear, but this is basically a lot of goth kids writhing around and crawling on all fours. The vocal tracking isn’t matching Adam’s live vocals, resulting in what sounds like Constantine Maroulis doing his best Adam Lambert doing his best Bon Jovi impression. I know, it’s complicated.
10:57: Cameras quickly cut away from Glambert as a female dancer simulates fellatio on his belt line. Another similar moment happens with a male dancer, this time involving a chair. We get it, Adam, you’re… gay?
10:58: The voiceover before the last commercial break said this number would be “outrageous,” which means the Parents Coalition Against Sexy Sex or whatever is already click-clacking away at a missive. And they got their moment: Adam Lambert raucously kisses a male member of his band (see 3:24), camera cuts away.
But the most offensive part of this Adam Lambert performance — as much as I wanted to love it — was the singing circus itself. There was too much reaching on “For Your Entertainment,” too many big vocal fills as he strutted up and down on the giant Erector Set set. The backing tracks were overwhelming him, as he slid up to notes. He was too busy posturing to give a concentrated effort to even that last, drawn out, all-important run.
And as for those chains I was looking forward to? They looked like silver-painted mini-Slinkys.
What a hot mess. More pissed than provoked.
10:59: OMG this puppy’s finishing on time! Ryan Seacrest plugs his New Year’s Eve show. He is my favorite evil robot.