Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah Excel At AMAs

Ladies of R&B, along with Tim McGraw, get two awards each.

With the most nominations at the onset, Alicia Keys found herself in a four-way tie by evening’s end for the most trophies at the 29th annual American Music Awards, held Wednesday.

Keys, who was nominated for six awards, scored two statuettes, both for Favorite New Artist in the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories. Two was also the magic number for Destiny’s Child, who won for Favorite Band, Duo or Group in the soul/R&B class and Favorite Album, Pop/Rock for Survivor; the late Aaliyah, for Favorite Female Artist and Favorite Album (Aaliyah) in the soul/R&B category; and Tim McGraw, for Favorite Album (Set This Circus Down) and Favorite Male Artist in country.

In the pop/rock world, Lenny Kravitz was voted Favorite Male Artist over R. Kelly and Shaggy, while Janet Jackson, who accepted her award live via satellite from Tokyo, was named Favorite Female Artist, besting Keys and Jennifer Lopez.

Limp Bizkit walked away with Favorite Artist in the alternative category, garnering more votes than Linkin Park and Staind, and Nelly proved Favorite Rap Artist ahead of Ja Rule and Shaggy.

When ‘NSYNC won for Favorite Band, Duo or Group in the pop/rock category over U2 and the Dave Matthews Band, Justin Timberlake attempted to comfort any in opposition by saying, “Quit booing, U2′s gonna get Grammys.” The Irish rockers lead this year’s Grammy nominees with eight (see “U2, India.Arie Lead Grammy Pack” ). And if it served no consolation, at least it added some comic relief to an otherwise straightforward awards show.

A classy, charismatic P. Diddy and brassy, bubbly Jenny McCarthy hosted the three-hour event, broadcast live on ABC (tape delayed on the West Coast) from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. Diddy lathered his vibe on the show early, kicking off the ceremony by performing “Bad Boy for Life” and taking Snoop Dogg along for the ride. Thanks to several costume changes, which outfitted him in everything from a basketball jersey to a pin-striped suit, Sean Combs embraced his role with style and delivered his introductions with suaveness and poise. McCarthy, who seemed a bit awkward at first, eased herself into the smooth-running show.

Performances from Kid Rock and Britney Spears commanded the spotlight away from the podium. Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” opened with a clip from her upcoming film, “Crossroads,” in which she’s seen talking with onscreen mom Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”). The clip faded into an identical set onstage. Backed by a grand-piano player and two singers, she rendered the tune wearing perhaps her most demure awards-show outfit yet, a flowing, light beige dress that favored class over flash.

Introduced by girlfriend Pamela Anderson, Kid Rock was anything but proper in his performance, as the first of his two songs, “Lonely Road of Faith,” began with a reel-to-reel tape machine playing a pre-recorded message from the trailer-park messiah to “ensure that [his] performance was in strict opposition to the majority of the popular live music today.” The tape played the song behind a mannequin in a long, blond wig seated with a guitar in hand, presumably a riff on performers who choose to lip-synch rather than perform live. Once heads were sufficiently scratched, the real Rock rolled in atop the hood of the bright orange General Lee from the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” and proceeded to pound out a mean “Lay It on Me.”

Others performing included Lenny Kravitz (“Dig In”), Usher (“U Got It Bad”), Shaggy (“Angel,” “It Wasn’t Me”) Cher (who premiered the single “[This Is] A Song for the Lonely” from her upcoming Living Proof), Toby Keith, Yolanda Adams, Brooks & Dunn, and Luther Vandross, singing a George Harrison medley while images of those who recently passed on were shown on the video screen: Aaliyah, John Lee Hooker, Chet Atkins, Rufus Thomas, John Phillips and Harrison himself.

After a video montage that covered his career, Michael Jackson accepted the award for Artist of the Century, while Garth Brooks received the Award of Merit, given in recognition of outstanding contributions to music.

Decided online by visitors to the AMA Web site, U2 won for Internet Artist of the Year, while unsigned artists Carbon Leaf took home the Coca-Cola New Music Award, beating out 800 other bands for the honor.

Nominees for the American Music Awards are selected by factoring record sales, according to SoundScan, with radio airplay figures calculated by industry trade periodical Radio & Records. Winners are selected by a panel of judges.

The complete list of American Music Award winners:

  • Favorite Male Artist, Pop/Rock – Lenny Kravitz
  • Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock – Janet Jackson
  • Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Pop/Rock – ‘NSYNC
  • Favorite Album, Pop/Rock – Destiny’s Child, Survivor
  • Favorite New Artist, Pop/Rock – Alicia Keys
  • Favorite Male Artist, Soul/R&B – Luther Vandross
  • Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B – Aaliyah
  • Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Soul/R&B – Destiny’s Child
  • Favorite Album, Soul/R&B – Aaliyah, Aaliyah
  • Favorite New Artist, Soul/R&B – Alicia Keys
  • Favorite Male Artist, Country – Tim McGraw
  • Favorite Female Artist, Country – Faith Hill
  • Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Country – Brooks & Dunn
  • Favorite Album, Country – Tim McGraw, Set This Circus Down
  • Favorite New Artist, Country – Trick Pony
  • Favorite Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop – Nelly
  • Favorite Artist, Alternative – Limp Bizkit
  • Favorite Artist, Adult Contemporary – Sade
  • Favorite Artist, Latin – Enrique Iglesias
  • Favorite Artist, Contemporary Inspirational – Yolanda Adams
  • Favorite Soundtrack – “Save the Last Dance”
  • Internet Artist of the Year – U2
  • Coca-Cola New Music Award – Carbon Leaf
  • Award of Merit – Garth Brooks
  • Artist of the Century – Michael Jackson