The 47th annual American Music Awards were held on Sunday night in Los Angeles at the Microsoft Theater. Celebrities streamed in wearing an array of colours and prints with an abundance of attitude – Christina Aguilera in her structural hooded Jean Paul Gaultier look was a vision to behold (dare we say, Madonna-esque?) and Lizzo’s tangerine Valentino moment was as sweet as it was fierce. Awards were received by the likes of Khalid, Post Malone and BTS, with special performances from music veterans Toni Braxton and Shania Twain.
Female empowerment, fire and time seemed to be the running themes for this year’s AMAs. Ciara, the host of the awards show this year, debuted her new song “Melanin” – an ode to embracing our natural skin tones and the uniqueness that accompanies them, and by extension, accepting who we truly are.
Halsey accepted her first AMA for favourite pop/rock song with “Without Me”. Using her award speech as a platform for her controversial statement (Twitter fans have been referring to it as “tea” or “shade” at the Grammys *insert that Kermit the Frog meme*) in which she seemingly called out the 2020 Grammy Award nominations. She claimed that awards were of little importance to her, and the only reason that she was interested or excited about her AMA is because it’s a competition based on the votes of fans.
We can’t talk about girl power without mentioning Taylor Swift. She’s currently embroiled in a very public feud with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun. Swift took to Tumblr earlier this month to express her frustration at being unable to perform any of the songs from her first six albums at the AMAs. Donning a prison-style white shirt with the names of the six albums her previous label currently owns, she dominated the stage with “The Man” – from her album Lover, it explicitly addresses the sexist double-standards within the music industry. This led to a 13-minute medley of her biggest songs, featuring tracks from her previous albums in a nod to her current turmoil. Of course, it wouldn’t be true girl power without the help of other women; joining Swift on the stage were Camila Cabello and Halsey for “Shake it Off”.
The winner of new artist of the year, Billie Eilish, gave her first award show performance. Singing “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” in her oversized fire sequin-embellished ensemble, she stalked around the stage, retaining her muted, almost secretive energy. The fire on the stage may have just been seen as a fun display of theatrics, but her all-caps T-shirt that read “No Music on a Dead Planet” suggested otherwise. It was a poignant reminder that while we enjoy an indulgent award show full of performances from our favourites, there’s a deadly environmental problem right now.
We revisited a bygone era with Green Day, who took us back to 1994. The only rock band to play the AMAs this year, they transported us to the crazy crowds of the ’90s with “Basket Case”, one of the defining songs that led a generation of music lovers. The song transitioned into a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” before winding down with a snippet of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”.
Then, Kesha revived all our 2009 memories with her surprise performance of “Tik Tok” – as expected, the crowd went insane, and who wouldn’t? (Especially if you’re brushing your teeth with Jack.) Having opened her stage with the words “Welcome to our Sunday service”, Kesha didn’t take us in the direction we were expecting, but we certainly aren’t complaining about such a noughties classic.