The Last Jedi is a Messy Masterpiece
The 41st annual American Music Awards, held last night at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, was a spectacle of flashy performances, surprise guests, and recognition of the year’s best music.
Hosted by Cuban-American rapper Pitbull, the show never failed to bore or distract its audience, beginning with an impressive performance by Katy Perry, set against the backdrop of a Chinese village with trapeze artists flying overhead and lights flashing from behind.
British boy band and fan favorite of the night One Direction, mellowed out the night with their performance of “Story of My Life.” Winner of Best New Artist, Ariana Grande, sang her song, “Tattooed Heart” and dazzled the stage in a shiny red dress with a group of back-up singers almost like they were taken out of a 1950s saloon.
Winner of Best Alternative Group, Imagine Dragons gave one of the best performances of the night. Starting out with “Demons,” then finishing with their powerhouse jam “Radioactive,” the band, full of energy that seemed like it had been building up for days, aggressively went through their set, with frontman Dan Reynolds belting out the chorus and banging on a gong that adorned the stage.
Host Pitbull and Kesha performed their song together, “Timber,” followed by a performance of Justin Timberlake’s song “Drink You Away,” which was an analogy of being drunk on love.
Jennifer Lopez paid tribute to Cuban musical genius and legend Celia Cruz, performing a medley of three of her biggest hits, “Quimbara,” “Bemba Colora,” and “La Vida es un Carnaval.”
A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera performed their song “Say Something,” followed by a brief performance from hip/hop artist Kendrick Lamar, with his party tune “Swimming Pools (Drank),” a piece about peer pressure in the high school party scene.
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly together performed “Do What U Want” and country musician and winner of Favorite Country Male Artist Luke Bryan performed his catchy hit, “That’s My Kind of Night.”
One of the most anticipated performance of the night and my personal favorite was TLC, featuring rapper Lil Mama, performing the R&B trio’s 90s hit, “Waterfalls.” Lil Mama filled in the vocals for Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who was killed in a car crash in Honduras back in 2002. The performance was dedicated to her.
The final performance of the night was Miley Cyrus singing her somber hit “Wrecking Ball.” Cyrus still managed to raise some eyebrows, though mostly in confusion. Cyrus was wearing an outfit that was decorated with cat faces, and her background was an animated cat, mouthing the song’s lyrics in sync with Cyrus. The performance seemed to strike a chord in Cyrus, who got tear-eyed in the song’s bridge, however whatever she felt was immediately lost as she turned around and did a mini twerk at the end of her performance.
The biggest highlight of the night however was singer/songwriter Rihanna being awarded the inaugural Icon Award. Comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher announced the award, but the award itself was presented by none other than Rihanna’s mom, in a very emotional moment that left not one dry eye in the room.
Taylor Swift took home the most awards including Artist of the Year, setting the record for the most awarded artist with 14 American Music Awards. Justin Timberlake came in second, taking home awards in the pop/rock and soul/R&B genre. One Direction managed to surprise many, as they are a British group yet also managed to be very successful last night, evoking every girl in the room to yell and scream a la Beatles mania.
All in all, the American Music Awards proved to be successful, bringing together diverse artists of varied genres and celebrating legends, icons, and the underdogs.