LOS ANGELES — While picking up his second trophy at Sunday’s American Music Awards, Usher suggested that he would be returning to the podium. “[I’m] two-for-two, and the night is still young,” he said.
When your album is the year’s best-seller and you’ve already swept several award shows, you can afford to be confident, and in the end Usher did return two more times, going four-for-five for the night.
“I really didn’t think anybody was going to beat Usher tonight,” country singer Kenny Chesney said after besting the R&B singer for the publicly voted Favorite Performer award.
Usher won Favorite Male Artist in the Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B categories and Favorite Album in the Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B categories, besting Outkast, who walked away with three trophies.
“This is one of the greatest days of my career,” Usher said backstage at the Shrine Auditorium. “I can’t say it’s the greatest, because there’s so much to look forward to.”
Such as Monday’s Vibe Awards, where Usher has a leading five nominations, or Thursday’s MTV Europe Awards, where he has four nods. (Confessions, which has sold nearly 7 million copies in America, is also expected to earn several Grammy nominations.)
Although falling short of his Atlanta neighbor, Outkast’s Big Boi (Andre 3000 is out of the country making a movie) was more than happy to collect trophies for Favorite Album, Rap/Hip-Hop and Favorite Group, Rap/Hip-Hop and Pop/Rock.
“Three-for-three, it feels good,” Big Boi said backstage. “God is great.”
Big Boi was the only artist during the ceremony to acknowledge the sudden death Saturday of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. “Rest in peace, Ol’ Dirty Bastard,” he said. “We love you.”
Other winners included Sheryl Crow (Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock and Favorite Artist, Adult Contemporary), Alicia Keys (Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B), Linkin Park (Favorite Artist Alternative for the second year in a row) and Jay-Z (Favorite Male Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop), who was not in attendance.
Country singer Gretchen Wilson won Best New Artist, beating out Maroon 5 and also Kanye West, who showed his displeasure by walking out of the show in protest.
“I felt like I was definitely robbed and I refused to give any politically correct bullsh– ass [comment],” West, who appeared more sad than angry, said backstage. “I make the music from my heart … and to be able to get ‘Jesus Walks’ on the radio and everything that’s happening, I was the best new artist this year, so get that other bullsh– out of here. … I don’t know if I’ll be back next year.” (Winners were determined by a national poll of 20,000 people, while nominees were selected from retail sales and radio airplay data.)
West was zero-for-three for the night but was one of the show’s most memorable performers, first for bringing a gym to the stage for “The New Workout Plan” and later for rapping his “Slow Jamz” verse during a surprise performance from Jamie Foxx.
Gwen Stefani opened the show with her solo single “What You Waiting For?,” while Snoop Dogg and Pharrell, Usher and Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, John Mayer and Lenny Kravitz all performed their current hits.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the show and won over the crowd with material about hip-hop beefs and Ashlee Simpson. “We’re here to celebrate the music and the performers who sing and/or lip-synch tonight,” he joked.
Kimmel also had a field day with Anna Nicole Smith after her dazed introduction of a performance. “I told her to stay away from Snoop Dogg’s brownies,” the host said, referring to a bit earlier in the show where the rapper and Bobby Brown were seen running a backstage bake sale, selling “$100 brownies.”
Big Boi was the only artist during the ceremony to acknowledge the sudden death Saturday of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (see “Rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard Dies” ). “Rest in peace, Ol’ Dirty Bastard,” he said. “We love you.”