On Sunday night (November 20), the music industry's A-listers gathered inside Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre to celebrate some of 2011's most memorable musical moments. It was a night dominated by chart-toppers like
Minaj and David Guetta were the first to electrify the stage. The two stars joined forces to get the room jumping with their track "Turn Me On," which transitioned into Nicki's breakthrough hit "Super Bass."
Maroon 5 were the first big winners, taking home Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group. "This is our first one. This is crazy. I think in order to get one of these, you have to have loyal fans," lead singer Adam Levine said.
Next up, Swift nabbed a trophy for Favorite Country Female Artist. After hugging pal Selena Gomez, Taylor excitedly accepted her award wearing a glittering gown. "I want to thank my band and my crew and the fans for filling up stadiums," she said. "And my mom and my dad and my brother who came with me tonight, and my fans who continue to amaze me."
Sean Kingston was onstage to welcome his "true friend" Justin Bieber, whom he noted kept in touch with him continually during his recovery earlier this year. Bieber brought a little Christmas to the stage, performing his Under the Mistletoe song "Mistletoe."
The flurry of performances continued, including one from the Band Perry (who appear on Bieber's UTM) singing their crossover track "If I Die Young." Then 50 Cent took the stage to proclaim the following about Chris Brown: "You haven't seen this guy till you've seen him perform onstage. It's the main event." Brown gave the room a little medley, slowing it down with "All Back" then transitioning into "Say It With Me."
Nicki Minaj took home her first award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist. She was the only girl up against Yeezy and Weezy. "I didn't think I was going to win it," she told the room. "I have to thank God ... and Taylor Swift, wherever you are. I want to thank my Barbz. There's power in your peace. Hold your peace."
Kelly Clarkson performed a big-band-inspired version of her song "Mr. Know It All" before Favorite Soul/R&B Album was handed out to Rihanna for Loud. In a pre-taped message, Rihanna said, "This means a lot to me. I love you guys. Thanks to all my fans."
Enrique Iglesias took the stage with a little help from a marching band to perform his feel-good track "I Like How It Feels" then recalled his performance last year when he once again performed "Tonight."
Jennifer Lopez followed up her fellow Latin superstar, kicking off her performance in a very diva way, complete with a flowing gown and wind machine, before kicking into high gear with "Papi," for which she changed into a sparkly, body-hugging outfit. For her third costume change, Pitbull took the stage with her for "On the Floor."
Lady Antebellum locked in the prize for Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group. Leading lady Hillary Scott said, "We just want to say thank you to the fans. It starts and ends with you."
Adam Lambert made his return to the AMA stage two years after his memorable (and divisive) debut performance, welcoming OneRepublic, who performed "Good Life" and had Bieber bopping his head from the audience.
Then, Minaj was back again, winning Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Pink Friday. Swift handed it off to her before Minaj said, "This one can actually make me cry. I can't believe this is happening ... just chase your dreams," she told her fans. "Shout out to all the female rappers, past, present and future."
Pitbull was joined by hypeman Lil Jon and Marc Anthony for "Rain Over Me" before Katy Perry took the stage. All decked out in pink, she embraced the sadness of her track "The One That Got Away" by keeping it simple and acoustic.
Immediately after performing, Perry was surprised with a special award of achievement for being the first woman in the history of pop music to have five #1 singles from one album. "Can I just say, thank you so much for letting me be a chameleon this year. I love you so much, and I also love my fans. I want to thank my band and all of the people who came out to see me."
Hot Chelle Rae won for New Artist of the Year before J.Lo took it home for Favorite Latin Artist. "I'm shaking," she said. "I didn't expect to win. It's been a really amazing year in so many ways. It's been up and down. It's been exciting and overwhelming. I'm just grateful for all my blessings."
Mary J. Blige brought some swagger to the stage for "Mr. Wrong" before paying homage to late MC Heavy D. "Rest in peace to my dear friend, the lovable, the great Heavy D. I miss you so much, brother."
The Favorite Soul R&B Female Artist went to Beyoncé, who accepted the trophy from NYC. "AMAs thank you very, very much. I'm so excited about this award because it was voted by all of my fans, and I have the best fans in the world. Actually, you're the only people I want to thank."
"Moves Like Jagger" brought Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera out, and their rollicking rendition of the bouncy party track had Swift and Gomez dancing in the audience. That transitioned nicely into Maroon frontman Levine joining Gym Class Heroes for their performance of "Stereo Hearts," complete with a big boom box behind them.
Drake brought some fire to the stage with his track "Headlines," which had the house going wild, including his Young Money sister Minaj and Swift, who seemed to know all the words to the Take Care track.
Bruno Mars won for Favroite Pop/Rock Male Artist. "I want to thank the fans," he said. "You all mean everything to me. I want to say hi to my family at home in Hawaii."
Daughtry brought power rock to the show with "Back to You," and then Swift took home another award: Favorite Country Album for Speak Now. "I want to thank all the fans for remembering the lyrics and caring about lyrics," she said. "This is so amazing."
Next, will.i.am took the stage with Jennifer Lopez for the premiere of his track "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)" for what turned out to be one very eye-popping performance, relying heavily on neon clothes and some assistance from Mick Jagger via video.
Adele won for Favorite Pop/Rock Album for 21, however, it was Swift who took home the big award for Artist of the Year, bringing her career AMA total to 10. "This is one of the craziest things that has ever happened to me," she said. "Thank you so much to the fans. I have no idea. I didn't think this was going to happen. I love you, Selena, my little sister I never had. Oh my God! Thank you for everything."
But that was hardly the end. LMFAO were the show's big finale, and they rocked out with lasers, their party-boy demeanor and lots of smooth dance moves as they hit the stage for "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It." Oh yeah: Bieber and David Hasselhoff also hit the stage with the guys. Apparently they really like to shuffle. And wiggle.
What did you think of the AMAs? Let us know in the comments below!