"American Idol" won't return to the air for another couple months, but it was all about "Idol" Sunday night at the American Music Awards, where former finalist Chris Daughtry proved you don't have to win the show to win some awards.
Of course, someone who did win "Idol" — country superstar and Season Four champ Carrie Underwood — also took home some trophy case furniture. Both former Idols snared three statues during a broadcast that featured a Jonas Brother (Joe) almost face-planting during a performance (it wasn't quite as spectacular as Beyoncé's onstage fall in July but embarrassing nevertheless), and host Jimmy Kimmel was forced to wing it most of the night as a result of the Hollywood writers' strike.
The three wins by the reality-show stars, which overshadowed such chart perennials as Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, may have been boosted by new voting rules, which allowed fans to vote online versus the traditional method used by the show of polling 20,000 music buyers. Daughtry's wins included Favorite Breakthrough Artist, Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Album for his debut, Daughtry, and he was clearly pumped by the wins.
"Wow. I can't believe we're in the category with Justin Timberlake and Linkin Park. It's pretty awesome," Chris Daughtry said. "I want to make sure we thank the fans again because you guys made this all possible for us." The group also performed an acoustic version of their breakthrough hit, "Home," on the program.
Underwood scooped up Favorite Female Artist and Favorite Album in the country category for Some Hearts and a special T-Mobile text-in award. "Thank you, fans, for going out and buying this album. You guys are amazing," she said. "This is one heck of a night."
With two wins out of three nominations, Timberlake certainly wasn't shut out: He accepted his awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Album awards via satellite from a tour stop in Australia. Fellow three-time nominee Beyoncé, however, got blanked in the competitive categories and had to make do with a special International Artist Award of Excellence, which has been bestowed on some pretty heavy hitters in the past, including Rod Stewart, the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Michael Jackson.
Accepting the trophy from Usher, she said, "I'm so blessed to wake up every morning and do what I love. I don't take it for granted. I'm so grateful, so honored and so humbled by this award." She also participated in a banjo-fied Nashville soul mash-up of her song "Irreplaceable" with country duo Sugarland. Other performers included Lenny Kravitz doing a solo piano version of his new song "I'll Be Waiting," Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Duran Duran, Fergie with Will.I.Am and Nicole Scherzinger, Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne and Rihanna with Ne-Yo.
After wowing people at the VMAs a few months ago, Chris Brown pulled out another showstopping performance, featuring glow-in-the-dark tracksuits and a trio of dancers suspended from wires amid laser blasts.
Kanye West, whose mother passed away last week, was very much on the minds of people in the audience and onstage. Rihanna and Kid Rock offered words of support, and Usher said, "I'd like to take a moment to recognize the loss of Kanye West's mother. My heart, my prayers and all of our prayers go out to you, Kanye, for the strength in this recovery."
Other winners included Fergie for Favorite Pop/Rock Female artist and Nickelback for Favorite Pop/Rock group, while Akon snagged the Favorite Soul/R&B Male trophy, Rihanna got Favorite Soul/R&B Female award and Jennifer Lopez was named Favorite Latin Artist. Linkin Park did not show up to collect their Favorite Alternative Rock trophy and T.I., who is under house arrest awaiting trial on gun charges, obviously was not available to pick up his Favorite Male Hip-Hop and Favorite Hip-Hop Album honors in person, due to his home confinement. The soundtrack to "High School Musical 2" won in the Favorite Soundtrack category.
With a script that was completed weeks before the now two-week old writers' strike, host Kimmel — also a writer, but not allowed to pen any new material for the show because of the strike — was unable to interject any headline news into his comedic bits. Instead, he resorted to references of such also-rans as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and a spoof re-staging of the now infamous tussle between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee at the VMAs two months ago — only this time Rock, who was in on the gag, pretended to punch Kimmel in the face for sitting in his seat.
And whether it was an old joke or not, his introduction of Snoop Dogg as "one of America's most beloved and arrested hip-hop stars" still got a roar from the audience.