Welcome to the top of this late November week, a time during which we tell those we love that we are thankful for them and begin thinking of our stocking stuffers. That’s right: the American Music Awards trots out the most appreciated pop acts for three hours of performances, including spots from Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Psy, Pink and Chris Brown.
I will be live-blogging the winners, the songs, the shows, the presenters and those uncomfortable little spots where nothing is happening all evening. Show kicks off at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. here in Austin) and goes until 11 p.m., fresh from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
Follow me for more bite-sized Twitter commentary at @katieaprincess.
8:00 pm: Usher won the coin toss against Justin Bieber as to who opened the show. He even wore his lucky red rainboots.
8:02: It’s a three-hour show, Usher, can you bring us to “Climax” so early? Half a warm-up track isn’t much foreplay.
8:05: “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Must” be every dancer’s dream, as is evident by this chorus line number. Usher is definitely singing live tonight, which running on a treadmill will make painfully obvious.
8:07: Ryan Seacrest on tap for host duties. With a 40th anniversary show, I’m curious why hosting was such a Seacret (get it?).
8:09: Justin Bieber wins Most Popular Boy. Er, Pop/Rock Male.
8:10: “This is for the Haters.” Oh, you. You’re one of the best-selling artists in the last three years, in both music and concert sales. Make “Metal Machine Music” and we can discuss hate. Or cameo on “General Hospital.”
8:13: The hyping of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” makes me think there will be some Queen B news coming out of tonight. She’s got a Super Bowl appearance that needs promo starting now, right?
8:15: Drunk Eric Stonestreet is my favorite Eric Stonestreet.
8:17: Stonestreet makes a “you win all the awards” jokes at Taylor Swift, who clearly would much rather talk about anything else. “Red” star takes home Country – Female
8:18: I want to live my life as the human equivalent of Lucy Hale’s dress.
8:21: Upshot to Carly Rae Jepson starting with the song that isn’t “Call Me Maybe” is the painful wait to see how she uses those phone booths. Perhaps she’s expecting a call from 2002?
8:24: Sometimes I try to distinguish The Wanted and One Direction in my head as the one band who dances and the one that doesn’t. And then I remember that neither group dances, and both are still trying to figure out what to do with their bodies when they’re not singing. The Wanted does the skinny tie better.
8:31: My hope is that Randy Jackson is as loud on “American Idol” as his jacket is on the AMAs.
8:33: Kelly Clarkson is wearing her “American Idol” audition number. Happy 10th anniversary, winner. She still rocks “Since U Been Gone,” which is what I wish I could say about those fetish boots.
8:35: “Catch My Breath” has really grown on me. What a voice.
8:38: Hearing Stacy Keibler’s voice is like watching money catch on fire.
8:39: Nicki Minaj wins Favorite Album – Rap/Hip-Hop. Her gown indicates the best quinceñera ever.
8:42: Ke$ha goes with a Day of the Dead theme for her “Die Young.” It’s totally working for her, she’s having more fun than anyone on this stage so far has, and that includes Minaj’s handler.
8:43: Tribal dance ends in a Madonna/Mary Mother Madonna pose. Mother Mary Ciccone is off somewhere, practicing her roundhouse.
8:48: I know No Doubt is performing “Lookin’ Hot” but I’m still waiting for the… song. Gwen Stefani looks like she’s wearing a Gwen Stefani Halloween Costume, one of the ones that arrive in shrink-wrap.
8:53: Linkin Park wins Alternative Rock Music – Artist, still chuckling over the term “alternative”
9 p.m.: Country guys saying “T-Swizzle” makes my heart grow two sizes too big
9:02: Taylor Swift playing smoky masquerade-themed “Trouble,” much more active than one of those acoustic-guitars-barefoot numbers. For those playing at home, this is her “dubstep” hybrid. Do not ask for a dubstep for Christmas.
9:04: I really want Chris Brown to win something so I can be offended about how inoffensive his acceptance speech is compared to all the rest of Chris Brown.
9:05: Usher can’t read his phone for his thank-yous because he’s wearing sunglasses. Fun fact: Usher never not wears sunglasses. Takes home Male Soul/R&B Artist.
9:12: Favorite Country Male Artist nominees looks like a race for Splashiest Lens Flare.
9:13: Luke Bryan wins. Usher should’ve worn this ensemble instead of the catsuit.
9:15: Linkin Park’s “live” vocals make me think of the guy who jumped out of that hot air balloon to break the sound barrier, for some reason.
9:18: Seriously, that rock performance would have been 20X more fun with a Diet Coke and a pack of Mentos.
9:20: In a wintry turn of events, Nicki Minaj goes solo on “Freedom.” Patent leather puffy shorts and cotton candy hair.
9:23: Gospel choir files out of the wings, the chorus is finally sung properly. Stage landscape is sparse and the rap/singing star is emoting: were there a bonfire, I’d be checkin’ for Frank Ocean.
9:28: Pink performing “Try” live — like she did in the video — just made my “Best” list and I haven’t finished watching it yet.
9:30: Pyro-heavy set makes this the live-action equivalent of Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie.” Actual violence pending.
9:32: Breaking windows, pantomime punches, “bruising” and pushing. I wonder if ABC will get any complaints about art.
9:33: Carly Rae Jepsen wins over One Direction for New Artist of the Year. Perhaps the boy band should’ve considered performing. Or showing up. Not that it would be required for a win or anything. Just saying.
9:40: Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat shamelessly plugging themselves, and say so. I love America.
9:41: Country Duo or Group goes to Lady Antebellum. So weird, I could’ve sworn they were just presenting an award just two awards ago…
9:42: Carly Rae introduces Justin Bieber. Knee-pad sighting. Placing bets that his acoustic guitarist’s name is Vedder.
9:45: Post-Hurricane Selena, Bieber is feeling sad. You can tell because he’s singing from a stool.
9:47: “Beauty and the Beat” starts up, but no Nicki MInaj so far. Pink hair doesn’t go with all-red rainboots look. Who decided on this motif? Switch to programmed vocals.
9:49: There’s Nicki. Outfit change to reflect Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” with the biggest hair this side of 1989.
9:51: Here’s the American Music Award presenters explaining to your mother that “electronic dance music” is a hot new thing! Because dance music — electronic or otherwise — definitely didn’t exist any other time in history so long as your mother has been alive, or at least was previously unworthy of recognition by name from the AMAs. David Guetta won, no, David Guetta is not dubstep, nor American, jeez let’s just drop the subject, Mom, here’s a commercial with Fergie, I’ll feed the cats.
9:58: Great to see one of America’s most treasured vocalists singing through auto-tune.
9:59: Christina Aguilera’s lady-luscious “Lotus” intro segues into all the extras from Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” video ensemble. It’s literally a freak show of circus performers and drag queens encouraging watchers to “love yourself.” Aguilera would probably prefer to perform “Your Body,” but it’s way too naughty.
10:04 p.m.: Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party” is like cocaine: ought to be fun, but being around it is actually annoying.
10:13: Justin Bieber wins another popularity contest for Best Pop/Rock Album. Jenny McCarthy literally grabs Biebs’ glutes and kisses his neck, 12 million girls just screamed out loud and passed out so hard.
10:15: Carrie Underwood is unsure what key this song is sung in.
10:16: Seriously. Carrie Underwood is a talented singer. Somebody please give her her key for “Two Black Cadillacs.”
10:18: Phew, that was close. Underwood took it home, and how. Now we can talk about Cadillac clip-art. Aguilera probably sees herself in Underwood, and misses herself dearly.
10:24: Brandy explaining her album title “Two Eleven”: Whitney Houston’s death date. Cue a 10-second “memorial” to the late singer.
10:26: Chris Brown, Ludacris and Swizz Beatz step out for “Everyday Is Your Birthday,” which is a good time. Chris Brown can’t keep his shirt on, wearing shirts aren’t in Chris Brown’s wheelhouse. He moves toward the camera, I instinctively move away.
10:27: Loved the dancing, energetic performance. Your move, Bieber.
10:30: Nicki Minaj wins Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, lady takes it home over the dudes. She thanks her Barbz with passion, and reveals she’ll be premiering the “Freedom” video tomorrow (Nov. 19). Costume change unfortunately encases her in shoes she cannot walk in. Blond hair, looking hot and temperature-hot.
10:38: Neon Trees presenting a country award, dressed in all the available items from Forever 21.
10:39: Carrie Underwood wins Country Album because Taylor Swift’s “Red” is conspicuously absent from the short list.
10:42: Ryan Seacrest introduces a montage honoring Dick Clark, who founded the AMAs. Set led by jams from Stevie Wonder. “My Cherie Amour” brings tears to Clark’s widow’s eyes, “Sir Duke” played abruptly with a closing shot of Clark.
10:49: Far more moved by this “Michael Jackson: Bad 25” trailer.
10:50: Besides being a singer, songwriter and producer, will.iam is touted as a “musical innovator.” Did he write that himself? Does writing that for yourself make you an innovator?
10:51: Justin Bieber wins Artist of the Year, brings his mom up with him. She looks like she got asked to prom by The World. Bieber is almost wordless, thanking fans for believing in him.
10:54: Psy brings “Gangam Style” to the stage to close out the night. Camera pans to all the stars who actually know how to horsey dance, and next to nobody who can speak-sing Korean. This No. 2 song fell to No. 5 this past week on Hot 100, but Psy’s Hammer pants are No. 1.
10:56: I’m not joking guys. I did that with my mind. MC Hammer came out for a mash-up of “Gangnam” with “2 Legit 2 Quit.” That quivering you’re experiencing is nostalgia. That sound you hear is your feet on the floor. That pain you feel is your back, because you are old.