Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez were the big winners at the 2011 American Music Awards Sunday night, a performance-heavy evening dominated by onstage collaborations by the year’s highest charting artists. Taylor Swift picked up three of the biggest awards of the night, including Artist of the Year, Favorite Country Music Album for her third full-length release Speak Now and Favorite Country Female Artist for the fourth straight year.
Lopez, who nabbed the award for Favorite Latin Music Artist, broke out her Billboard chart-topping RedOne ode-to-love “Papi” in a rhinestone-covered nude body suit before being joined on stage by fellow Favorite Latin Music Artist nominee Pitbull for their banger “On The Floor.” Later, Lopez lent her voice to the hook of will.I.am’s new solo track “THE (The Hardest Ever)” in a futuristic black-light dance number that featured video of Mick Jagger performing a portion of the track.
There was more Mick to be had, at least in spirit, when Maroon 5 — who took home the first award of the night, Favorite Rock/Pop Band, Duo or Group — took the stage alongside Christina Aguilera to perform the undisputed song of summer (and Mom favorite) “Moves Like Jagger.” Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine then crossed the stage to meet Travie McCoy and Gym Class Heroes, who launched into their Benny Blanco/RoboPop single, “Stereo Hearts.”
But GCH wasn’t the only artist to make use of a stereo last night. To open the show, Nicki Minaj showed off her most famous, uh, assets in a pair of silver boombox pants. The Young Money femcee plugged herself into David Guetta’s turntable stage for a tech-savvy performance of “Turn Me On” and “Super Bass” as Swift and Selena Gomez rapped along from their seats. Soon after, Nicki won Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist (thanking superfan Swift in her acceptance speech) and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for her debut Pink Friday.
Justin Bieber took the stage early and alone in a white leather motorcycle outfit for his ska-inflected holiday hit “Mistletoe” but failed to score any big trophies over the course of the evening, despite a virtual legion of Beliebers. And following an all-pink acoustic version of her tearjerker “The One That Got Away,” Katy Perry. otherwise winless for the night, was presented a special American Music Achievement Award for racking up five No. 1 hits on a single album. Michael Jackson and Prince have also received the award, but Perry is the first female artist to earn the accolade.
Rihanna and Beyonce, though not in attendance, both picked up awards: Rihanna took home Favorite Soul/R&B Album for Loud — a vote of confidence on the eve of Talk That Talk’s debut — and Beyoncé was named Favorite Soul/R&B Female artist.