The 2013 American Music Awards started with Katy Perry rocking out in a geisha outfit while cherry blossoms fell from the sky, and it ended with Miley Cyrus singing “Wrecking Ball” in front of a giant, crying kitty. Missed everything in between? Here’s the top moments from Sunday night.
Macklemore Takes Out Time For Trayvon Martin
“Now that I’m sitting here in front of millions of people I’ve like to address something extremely important to me,” Macklemore began while accepting the award for Favorite Album – Rap/Hip-Hop. “Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award, I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and violence that follows it. This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers and our fans, and it’s time we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it.”
Justin Timberlake: Total Gentleman
JT has been Mr. Congeniality lately — both his albums debuted at #1 and GQ just named him Man of the Year. So when he won the award for Best Male Pop/Rock Album, he ran around Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, reveling in yet another accomplishment and taking it all in with the most gleeful reaction possible. After he finished hugging and high-fiving fans, he jumped onstage and complimented presenter Taylor Swift before giving his speech. As he left, he offered his arm for Swift. Who said chivalry is dead?
Justin Timberlake: Funny Guy
JT buddied up with Taylor again as he was going up for the Favorite Male Artist (Soul/R&B) award, he brushed by her, giving off his best “OMG-I-just-won-an-award” glow that Swift is famous for. She smiled back, going with the joke and echoing him with and equally surprised face. One he got onstage, he riffed off Macklemore’s earlier moment after presenter Sarah Silverman fawned over him: “That’s the first time I’ve ever been racially profiled by a white woman.”
Timber (Not Lake)
The same night their music video premiered, Pitbull and Ke$ha debuted “Timber.” The duo gave the song a country twang — Ke$ha wore daisy dukes and flannel and she square-danced with some pals. Pitbull was the night’s host, kicking off the show with a demonstration of booty-popping dances with a line of bodacious women. He held down the show, adding Latin flair in between performances and awards.
did u guys like the FIRST EVER performance of TIMBER ?!??,?, cxxxx????
— ke$ha (@keshasuxx) November 25, 2013
Ariana’s Acceptance Speech Was The Cutest Thing
“Oh my god, I’m so nervous!” When she was announced as New Artist of the Year, the up-and-coming singer could barely believe it. She carefully stepped up to the stage toddler-style and scurried to the mic. She admitted her mom made her a cheat sheet for her speech, pulling it out the top of her sparkly red dress. But with only 10 seconds — “oh no, nine seconds, that’s so intimidating,” she said, looking at an offstage timer — Ariana rolled her thank yous off her tongue faster than Twista could, and turned to leave, breathless. This tweet says it all:
That was the most nerve wracking thing ever and I haven't had access to my phone all day but hi y'allllll love u I'm so nervous! u watching?
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) November 25, 2013
Rihanna Gets Iconic At 25 Years Old
Rih Rih won the Icon Award for being a voice of her generation. In a montage flaunting her accolades and titles, we saw where she started with “Pon De Replay” (seems like forever ago) while Jay Z voiced over about what makes her a star. She’s the best selling digital artists of all time, and on Sunday night, she performed “Diamonds.” Her mom, Monica Fenty, presented her with the first-ever award, choosing her words carefully: “I applaud and admire you for being so strong and positive and focused.”
Rihannas performance was EPIC and her speech for the acceping was legendaRIH!! Thank you @Rihanna
— BUY WHAT NOW (@RihannaXShe) November 25, 2013
Lady Gaga Seduces JFK?
In perhaps one of the most theatrical performances (Katy Perry’s cherry blossomed Japanese-themed “Unconditionally” comes close), Lady Gaga played Marilyn Monroe and R. Kelly played a President John F. Kennedy. Mother Monster seduces him on his desk, pulled him over top of her. But when the media confronts the prez after photos leak online, he denies knowing her, and Gaga is left pining on a piano, headlines rolling behind her and footage of her tinkling the ivories as a kid.
— Live Nation Jill (@LiveNationFans) November 25, 2013
Fortunately, the two are just good at acting, because they seemed more than happy to be together in Kells’ Instagram snap — and Taylor Swift was just as excited.
Miley Cyrus Gets Catty
“Wrecking Ball” is an emotional song — you could tell when Cyrus started crying during her performance — but who knew that it could make kitties cry? The entire time she was onstage, a kitten projected behind her sang along, singing at the sad parts and sticking its tongue out at the end. All the while, Miley wore a high-cut leotard with cat heads printed on it. Meeeeow.
Backstage, Miley lightened the mood, celebrating her 21st birthday with Kelly Osbourne.