The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic continues to affect awards shows. The 2020 American Music Awards, hosted by Taraji P. Henson, was no exception.
Henson began, “It has been a long year and now that 2020 is coming to end, it’s time to remember that it’s one country. We need to heal and love on each other a little more. We’re gonna have some fun, embracing our neighbors and coming together with music.” And they did. The masked crowd applauded and cheered throughout the program at the Los Angeles Microsoft Theater.
Justin Bieber Wins
Justin Bieber called 2020 “the toughest year ever” accepting the award Favorite Country Song for his Dan + Shay collaboration “10,000 Hours.”
“We haven’t been able to be together in person,” he added. “I just want to say that music has such an incredible power to unify us. Music has power to change lives, to save the world. So to [all] our fellow artists and nominees, everybody creating art at home, thank you for doing what you do.”
Dan + Shay won Collaboration of the Year, recognizing their work with Bieber. The group beat high-profile nominees like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion as well as Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.
Taylor Swift Beats Her Own Record
Taylor Swift was a no show, though she accepted the award for Artist of the Year on video saying, “Oh hey guys, thank you so much for this! This is a fan-voted award, which means so much to me. You guys have been beyond wonderful all the years of my career, but especially this one when we’ve been so far apart, and we haven’t been able to see each other in concert. I still feel really connected to you through the music.”
Taylor added that she’s “re-recording all of my old music in the studio where I originally recorded it. It’s been amazing, and I can’t wait for you to hear it.”
She also won Favorite Music Video for her Folklore track “Cardigan” as well as Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist. In doing so, Swift broke her own record twice for the most awards in this category, with six. The star has now racked up 32 AMA wins over the course of her career, the most wins by any artist.
A bandaged The Weeknd dedicated an award to Prince. He won Favorite Soul/R&B Song for “Heartless” and Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist.
Ricch won one award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial. And Megan Thee Stallion took home an award for her work with Cardi B on “WAP.” She performed “Body,” off of her recent debut album Good News.
Other winners included Harry Styles. He won his first solo AMA prize for Favorite Album Pop/Rock for Fine Line. The late Juice WRLD won a posthumous AMA award in the category of Favorite Male Artist Rap/Hip-Hop.
The night kicked off with a medley performance by Bieber and Shawn Mendes. Bieber began with “Lonely,” transitioning to “Holy.” The set featured pink crosses bathing him in rose-colored light. Masked dancers joined him. Mendes later appeared, sitting atop a platform and strumming a guitar as he sang “Monster.” Bieber joined him under strobing lights.
Mendes’ second performance was a solo of “Wonder” that started in a lit living-room set before he moved from the room to perform the rest of the song to clubby strobe lights.
With Kenny G, The Weeknd sang “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears.”
In throwback performances, Nelly and Cedric the Entertainer did a medley of “E.I.” and “Ride Wit Me.” The pair also sang a medley of “Do Me” and “Poison” from Bell Biv DeVoe. Jennifer Lopez and Maluma performed Marry Me film tracks “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely.”
Billie Eilish sang a world-premiere performance of “Therefore I Am.” Bathed in red light, she moved around a backdrop of red hallways and small rooms.
Dua Lipa performed “Levitating” from London and BTS performed to close out the show. They accepted their Favorite Pop/Rock Duo or Group from their native South Korea. The group also won Favorite Social Artist for the third year consecutive year.
Closing the night Henson repeated her plea to the audience that despite recent events, the U.S. is one country. She reminded people to “stay safe.”