When I was a kid, there was one night I knew I would be allowed to stay up past my bedtime for-the American Music Awards. While I didn’t appreciate the Grammys until much later (too serious, too much non-pop music), the AMAs were the fun award show. Over the past couple of years, though, it’s gotten a bit boring. Whether it’s because the marginally talented Jimmy Kimmel has hosted for the past four years or whether it’s because a sizable chunk of winners have stopped showing up (it’s become abundantly obvious lately that winners are now notified before the ceremony, guaranteeing their appearance), the show has lost some of it’s luster. Or maybe I’m just getting older.
Unlike the MTV VMAs and the Soul Train Awards, both of which completely jumped the shark this year, the AMAs found themselves in a holding pattern. Here were this year’s Top 5 highlights and lowlights.
1) Alicia Keys turning in a spirited performance of the remix to her hit “No One”, featuring cute choreography and guest appearances from reggae legends Beenie Man, Junior Reid and Chaka Demus & Pliers. If you were from New York (or Jamaica), you probably stood up and cheered (because all of the songs they performed were HUGE hits in the NYC area). If you were anywhere else in the country, you probably scratched your head and wondered who those folks were.
2) Beyonce’s performance of “Irreplaceable” with country duo Sugarland. When I first heard “Irreplaceable”, I thought it sounded a little bit country. Hell, the song’s writer, Ne-Yo, said in several interviews that he wanted to write country music. But who knew it would work so well with a twangy arrangement? Hell, she’s already made a Latin album. Could Beyonce’s next step be a two-step to Nashville?
3) Mary J. Blige, who turned out a stellar performance of “Just Fine”. MJB has come a long way from dodgy notes, shakin’ her booty while singing the song perfectly. I had to chuckle when she soft-tossed her sunglasses to the side. They must have been too expensive to chuck into the audience. While “Just Fine” in no way shape or form sounds like a typical Mary J. song, it has grown on me a great deal. It wa also funny how ABC’s cameras tried their best to shoot from the chest up, considering she was wearing a fairly sheer top.
4) The “Soulja Boy” skit, featuring Kelly Pickler and Jordin Sparks, along with host Jimmy Kimmel. Oh come on, you didn’t laugh at that?
5) Rihanna and Ne-Yo’s classy duet of “Hate That I Love You”. Who knew she could sing live? Rihanna did a very nice job.
1) Jimmy Kimmel. Despite the “Soulja Boy” skit, almost everything else he did fell flat (wow, guess he really does need writers). When your comic trick bag consists of yet more jokes about Snoop getting arrested and smoking pot and a punching match with Kid Rock, you’re in pretty bad shape. Kudos for not making any Britney jokes, though.
2) The Soul/R&B category. While I don’t have a problem with Justin Timberlake winning Favorite Soul/R&B Album over R. Kelly and Beyonce (it was certainly the best album of the three), what’s up with Rihanna winning Favorite Soul/R&B Female? Last I checked, she wasn’t exactly an R&B singer. Even SHE expressed surprise at winning the category.
3) The Jonas Brothers-one of only two acts that lip-synched (Chris Brown was the other, and considering the choreography, I’m willing to give him a pass there).
4) Usher’s presentation to Beyonce of the International Artist Award, in which he stumbled over the TelePrompter and the award inscription at least five times. Yo, Ush…it’s called “rehearsal”.
5) Duran Duran’s lame performance of “Hungry Like The Wolf”. While I admire the fact that bassist John Taylor seems to have not aged in the past twenty years, it seems like Simon LeBon was more hungry than the wolf was and probably ate it.
If you must know, it was “American Idol” night at the AMAs. Chris Daughtry (oh, excuse me. The “band” Daughtry) and Carrie Underwood won three awards each. Kelly Pickler, Jordin Sparks and Ryan Seacrest also made appearances. They tried to bring Ruben out, but he wouldn’t leave the catering tray.
Justin Timberlake won two awards via satellite and seemed completely unenthused.
Here’s a full list of winners:
Favorite Male Artist, Pop/Rock: Justin Timberlake
Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock: Fergie
Favorite Group, Pop/Rock: Nickelback
Favorite Album, Pop/Rock: “Daughtry” Daughtry
Favorite Male Artist, Country: Tim McGraw
Favorite Female Artist, Country: Carrie Underwood
Favorite Group, Country: Rascal Flatts
Favorite Album, Country: “Some Hearts” Carrie Underwood
Favorite Male Artist, R&B: Akon
Favorite Female Artist, R&B: Rihanna
Favorite Album, R&B: “Futuresex/Lovesounds” Justin Timberlake
Favorite Rap Artist: T.I.
Favorite Rap Group: Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony
Favorite Rap Album: “T.I. vs. T.I.P” T.I.
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Daughtry
Favorite Alternative Artist: Linkin Park
Favorite Latin Artist: Jennifer Lopez
Favorite Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns
Breakthrough Artist: Daughtry
International Artist Award: Beyonce
T-Mobile Text-In Award (for favorite artist of the year): Carrie Underwood